DEVONthink Pro Help Database

It occurred to me just now that users of Pro and Pro Office editions (because of the multiple database ability) might benefit from a downloadable help database – right now it might be nothing more than the contents of the PDF manual, but it might become an interesting way of demonstrating the power and usefulness of DTP. It’d be easy to add posts by Bill DeVille and other users who post tips, tricks, scripts, etc.

A tangential idea would be the possibility of integrating the database with DEVONthink’s Sparkle use – so that you could optionally download the latest help database with just a couple of clicks. I haven’t worked directly with Sparkle before, so I don’t know how possible it would be to accomplish this (ie, “DEVONthink Pro” > “Check for Updates” > “Update Help Database” > and the database closes the old copy and opens the new copy).

An alternative would be to make this completely unofficial – an alternative to the official documentation. The difficulty then is allowing and restricting access, managing changes, and so forth.


Interesting. The forum is very good as a free-form, issues-of-the-moment venue, and the forum community is helpful to newcomers. It’s a great place to post questions, suggestions and discuss the software.

But the bulletin board search features are weak if one tries to look at past posts or threads to find something out – and in any case, evolution of the DEVONtechnologies applications makes many of the older posts less relevant.

DT Pro/Office databases have strong search capabilities and can not only document tips and tricks but illustrate them in action. Remember that tutorial database when DT Pro was first released?

There are lots of possibilities for databases, including or linking to useful posts on the forum. User-developed scripts, and Christian’s scripting tips could become much more accessible. I’ve always been amazed and impressed by the variety of ways people use their databases – I would like to see samples of some of those approaches. One of the neat things about a database is that it can be played with, unlike a PDF documentation manual. A trick can be tried out, and perhaps modified to suit one’s own workflows, right inside the database. See? Here’s how it works!

I like the idea. How do others feel about this? Are you willing to make suggestions, up to and including content? Would you like to have pride of authorship, or be listed as a contributer to database design or content? As there’s work involved, volunteers would be welcomed and highly prized!

Perhaps, as kalisphoenix suggested, a database might be included in the download disk image. Or the disk image might simply include a link to current downloadable databases on various topics. Or the DEVONacademy site could host databases for download. Or users can, on their own initiative, swap databases. I’m sure the forum would be a good venue for comments, suggestions and critiques (that’s the politically correct way to say “criticisms”) of the databases. :slight_smile:

I was at least partially inspired by many of erico’s scripts, which are even as we speak disappearing into the bowels of phpBB3, never to re-emerge.

I’ve also considered registering a new domain and attaching it to my underutilized server (50GB space/1TB bandwidth per month) – a place for people to trade databases and stuff like that. Perhaps a concurrent versioning system for scripts and similar things. Strictly unofficial.

Most of the documents I work with are not public domain or anything close – but people might be able to trade subsets of their database that aren’t restricted by copyright. Particularly humanities researchers, people with sizable archives of Wikipedia or similar open content, public domain ebooks like selections from Project Gutenberg, or whatever. I figure a lot of work is being duplicated, and it might be nice for DEVONthink users to be able to explore other’s datasets (to a certain extent).

Aside from that, a lot of users are creating original content in their databases that is (currently) for personal reference only. One thing I’m doing right now, for instance, is my own interpretation of the I Ching. Many might scoff, but a few might find it interesting. It’ll never see the light of day, being only a preliminary step in a thought experiment that may or may not ever have any influence on my primary project.

It doesn’t take much time or effort to do this sort of thing, provided that people take interest in it, upload a database or three, and discuss how to make it better. It’s something I’d cheerfully spend a lot of time working on if I knew people were going to get something out of it.

I agree that a DevonThink Pro Help Database would be very helpful. The Help Viewer under Leopard is very slow for me for all applications and I often have to delete the plist and cache files just to get it to run. Search within DevonThink is much faster. I do keep a copy of the manual in all my databases. Searching that works better than using the Help Viewer. However, it takes time to find something within that manual: searching always takes me to the release notes first, and then I have to keep searching until I find the page that explains the topic.

Also, it would be great if the Extras with the application download included the instructions on how to use them instead of referring to the manual.


Would be interested to know how you got the DTP Manual into your DBs?

I have a DTPO database devoted to Manuals (machinery, electronics, software etc) so it would be great for other software apps as well.


Documentation can be found under the Extras heading, at

Thanks Bill. I prefer to work with .pdf(s)

I had been using the URL:


and while that was faster than the usual menu Help, you seem restricted to the same search limitations.