DT & CP NoteBook?

Hi, let me just say first that I think DT is a really good, useful application.  I’m really looking forward to updated and Pro versions.  

I’ve run into a problem when using DT with CP NoteBook.  

I imported a number of folders into DT, which contained a few NoteBook files, among other things.  I did some writing in DT and put the RTF files (replicants, actually) into those folders in DT.  I then exported the folders so that I would have access to them from the Finder.  The problem is that the the NoteBook app can no longer open the NoteBooks.  

(There seems to be a similar problem with I Link a NoteBook to DT.  When I try to open the NoteBook after exporting, I get the message "main data is missing or corrupted.")  

As you know, this doesn’t happen with other files, e.g. MS Excel or OmniOutliner files.  DT just creates a link and the original files are untouched.  And for MS Word files DT creates a new RTF file and doesn’t modify the original.  

Does anyone else use DT with CP NoteBook?  Have you also had this problem?  Is there any way that I can configure DT not to do this?  Or is the problem not with DT?  


CP NoteBook notebook files are actually packages. If you rename a notebook file by removing the suffix, it will display a folder icon in the Finder, and you can look inside the folder. Rename the notebook folder by replacing the suffix, and it becomes a package again!

DEVONthink imports packages as folders. So what you were trying to do (modify the notebook content in DT, then export back to the Finder) won’t work. Other applications that store files as packages, such as KeyNote, don’t work well with DT if the files are linked or imported into DT. This isn’t a bug, it’s just the way the file system works at the moment.

I’ve used both NoteBook and NoteTaker along with DEVONthink. Sometimes I want to use the outlining features of a notebook while I’m working on a project, or perhaps move content from DEVONthink to a notebook for inclusion in a Web notebook. The best ways to move content between your notebook and your DT database are via Services, contextual menu options, drag & drop or copy/paste.

I haven’t experimented to see what would happen if I linked my DT database into a notebook, but I would advise using a copy of the database, not the original! :slight_smile:

Hi, Bill, thanks for your response.  I‘ve also found that DT and NoteBook complement each other fairly well.  (NoteTaker is good too.)  

Actually, I was trying to do the opposite.  I did NOT want to modify the content of my notebooks in DT; instead, I apparently ended up doing just that since my notebooks now won’t open at all.  The only files I modified  were some RTF files that were in the same folder.  

The notebooks just happened to be in a folder with a bunch of other stuff that I wanted to import into DT - and I (wrongly) thought that DT would treat them like it does other types of files that it doesn’t recognize - by creating a link (e.g. for most files) or another copy (e.g. for DOC files).  At least, I didn’t think that it would render my notebooks unusable after I re-exported from DT.  

The content of the notebook pages still seems to be there in some form, since I can open them with TextEdit - which I can, of course, also see from having imported them into DT.  

So if I want to get the page content back into a notebook, do you think my only solution is to do a lot of cutting and pasting?  And to keep my notebooks far away from DT?  Or have I got the problem completely wrong and my notebooks were corrupted for some other reason?  


I can’t be certain without seeing your files, but here’s a possibility:

Look at the icon (in the Finder) of the notebook that you exported from DEVONthink. If it displays as a folder icon instead of a NoteBook notebook package icon, do this:

[1] Open the notebook folder and remove the file inserted by DT that contains metadata (for use by DT if you reimport it to DT). If there’s a file named DEVONthink_storage, remove it.

[2] From the finder, select the notebook folder, choose File > Get Info. In the Info pane, add this suffix to the folder name – .nb – which should turn the folder back into a CP NoteBook notebook package. Then try to open it under CP NoteBook.

No guarantee, but it’s worth a try. I’m assuming that you exported the notebook out of DEVONthink using the “Export files & folders” option, which probably gives the best shot at recovering the notebook files as a notebook.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

Note: I’ve got several apps that create package files, including NoteBook, NoteTaker and Create. I do not import these files into DEVONthink.

Thanks for your help, Bill.   :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, things don’t look so good.  Maybe the DEVON-technologies developers could put a warning in the manual saying that importing (or even linking to) some file packages and then exporting them renders them unusable?  

Or, better, maybe they provide an option where DT treats (notebook) packages in the same way that it treats files that it can’t recognize?  I don’t know if this is a general problem with applications that work with packages or one that is specific to CP NoteBook.  But I’m pretty sure DT is the culprit since all the notebooks that I imported into DT and then exported don’t work, whereas all the notebooks that I did not import and export work fine.  

So I sort of followed your suggestions.  (I have DT set to import with the file extension so when I exported the notebook again the finder recognized the package without a problem.)  

Anyway, I opened the package by right-clicking on “show package contents” and removed the DEVONthink_storage files as well as the files with the .dtlink extension.  I then tried opening the notebook–but no luck…it still doesn’t open.  

I’m no techie, but then I compared the package contents to a working notebook and they look exactly the same except for one difference:  in a working notebook, the Finder says that PkgInfo file is a Unix Executable File; in a non-working notebook, the Finder says that the PkgInfo file is a Document.  I tried copying the file from the working notebook package into the one that isn’t working.  I have no idea whether that sould work or not, but the packages look the same–but still no luck.  

I guess I’ll contact the NoteBook developer to see if there’s a solution on that end.  

The moral of the story seems to be to keep your notebooks (and other packages?) far, far away from DEVONthink!  

just to follow up:  for some reason, either when I imported the notebooks or exported them, DT completely messed up their formatting, which is now unrecoverable.  (I don’t understand why DT would do this.)  

At least some, and possibly all, of the text is still there, however.  I haven’t had time to look yet but it should be possible to reconstruct some or all of my notebooks from memory and by cutting and pasting the text.  But that seems to be the only option.  

I’m a little scared now.  I’ve never had any problem before but now I’m wondering:  does DT do this kind of thing with other files or packages?  


DT is designed to be able to import and recognize text content in a wide spectrum of file types, as well as a number of image and multimedia file types.

You can access a complete list of the supported file types from the DT Help menu: choose DEVONthink Help, which will open the Help file. Then click on the item named "Supported file formats." You will see a large list of supported files, for which DT has been designed and tested. New file  types are frequently added with updates of DT, and the list of supported file types will continue to grow.

What happens if you try to import a file type that’s not on the supported list? Sometimes, nothing. DT will refuse to import the file.

But files that are really packages are a special case. CP NoteBook notebook files, NoteTaker notebook files, Create documents and KeyNote presentations are package files. Packages are really folders that contain other folders and files – and that’s the way DT treats them. The result of importing a package file into DT may be unpredictable, and trying to export the import out of DT to recreate the original package probably won’t work (although I haven’t played with this). DT didn’t “damage” your notebook file; it simply read it the way the operating system told it to do, but the result wasn’t an operating CP notebook.

I’ve got both CP NoteBook and AquaMinds NoteTaker, and I’ve got a lot of notebooks generated under these applications. I don’t try to store them as notebooks in DT – they stay in the Finder. (Another neat thing about NoteTaker is that I can do a contextual menu search on a term or phrase while I’m in DT, and open the related NoteTaker notebook(s) – and vice versa, of course.)

If I want to import part or all of a notebook’s contents into DT, the easiest and most reliable method is to print a page or a notebook as a PDF file, and Index import that file into DT. Actually, I do most of my notebook work with NoteTaker, because it lays out PDF files better than does NoteBook. In reality, I’ve taken to doing most of my writing in DT and use NoteTaker as one of my vehicles to layout and “publish” final output in PDF or HTML.

One more note: Although DT can in large measure serve as a Finder replacement for document storage, I choose not to physically import my important PDF, Word and image files into DEVONthink. Those files remain intact on my drive – I simply import their text content into DT. However, I do store all of my HTML, RTF, RTFD and text files inside the DT database. DT permits the user a wide range of choices.

trying to export the import out of DT to recreate the original package probably won’t work (although I haven’t played with this).

I have and it doesn’t.

But that was before I understood Packages, and looked at what a notebook is. Examing package contents is a great lesson! Asking a notebook to reassemble after import/export is asking the NoteBook app to run backwards!


Really? Why is that? Is there a simple way of explaining this?

BTW, I now export my NoteBooks as html and import them into DT that way. It takes some extra time but it works beautifully.


this is indeed a good idea. Another solution is Export to XML, which I use. With the XML-File you can export the NoteBook from DT again and reassemble it to a real and original notebook with keywords, stickies, dates, due dates etc. - all information is there. Drawback: It does not look as good as HTML, since DT can unfortunately not yet render XML.


Hi Maria, Which XML export option do you use: OPML or NBML? Or do you use something else? Thanks! -Rob

For these purposes I use NBML. OPML does not store all informations from NoteBook.

Really? :astonished: I didn’t think it was possible to import NBML back into a NoteBook. How do you do it? This could be a nice way of working between DT and CPNB.

Hups, I should have said “I used to use…”, since I did not work with NoteBook since months any more and have mixed up several things.

To answer your question, I exported from NB an nmbl file (changing .nbml to .xml) and imported it to DT, works fine, all information preserved. But as you say, Notebook cannot open its own xml format, what a shame. I just realized it now. May be exchange worked better with NoteTaker’s xml. OPML works of course, but NB-specific information gets lost.

As you see from my answer, using NB has become obsolete for me after a while, although I still like its interface very much.



Like you, I’ve discontinued using CP NoteBook in favor of NoteTaker. My principal use for NoteTaker is as a publication vehicle for material written or stored in DEVONthink Pro, so I usually don’t think about importing my notebooks back into DEVONthink Pro. When I do so, I convert the NT notebook into PDF and import the PDF file into DT Pro.

Just for grins, this evening I exported a large NT notebook as XML (NTML), then imported the NTML folders and files into DT Pro. That works, but the XML display within DT Pro isn’t easy to read, so I didn’t see much point to the exercise. There’s also not much point to converting the NT notebook into a Web notebook, then importing that into DT. Reason: the Web notebook’s text is “invisible” to DT Pro (won’t be indexed), so it can’t be searched. PDF is by far the best option.

I would expect lots of development of XML documents and readers in the future, and I’m sure DEVONtechnologies will keep up with such developments. But for now, if I want to incorporate notebook material into DEVONthink, PDF is the answer. :slight_smile:

I know it’s a politically incorrect question, but is there a roadmap for the future of friendlier relations between XML/OPML and DT? I still find myself wishing for some way to display (and ideally work with) real foldable outlines in DT. Right now the best way seems to be indexing word files that I can open as outlines in Word itself for editing, but that’s hardly ideal.

And while I’m at it, does anybody know of a way to open an indexed doc in word without using “launch Path”? I kinda miss that @ launch button that used to be on the bottom bar and has now been banished to the Info panel.

Yes, DEVONthink Pro will be able to read OPML. It will import each item as a separate document and create a groups/documents hierarchy according to the OPML file.

You can alternatively put an “Open externally” or “Launch path” tool into the toolbar. Use the contextual menu on the toolbar and select “Customize toolbar”.