DT Frustrations

Since this got out the scope of “Get Reminded” on the blog and my frustration with another beta , I thought I would paste it here :
Khalid wrote:

@Eric . Ofcourse I saw this answer coming. However, my underlying frustration is not about the final beta . When DT 2 came out before the ‘promised’ deadline , and with a sense of triumphalism that it made it sometimes earlier , I was excited ! Then disappointment that it was a 2.0 beta but figured a couple of months wait is not a problem. Now users are approaching 11 months and I expect the final release will come ‘just in time’ before the new year (end Nov ?) given that beta 8 will be released by the end of this month !! I feel I have been taken for a ride for nearly a year for a product that was promised for Jan. 2009 .

Posted on 18-Oct-09 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

Khalid wrote:

Having ‘vented’ my frustration ,I must say I do know how programming can get complicated and over run its schedule . So a few constructive comments are due. I probably made some of the first few suggestions when DT 2 beta came out and I am happy that some saw the light in later iterations. I am also glad the DT opted for OpenMeta rather propriety tagging thus bringing DT a step further to transperency as promised for DT2 ( original file formats are preserved rather than converted to propriety) format as in earlier version.So, here is one fundamental deal breaker, that holds back DT from becoming fully open : the ‘propriety’ folder system. I don’t understand the benefits of keeping a different folder structure that is different organized and labeled than the finder, except for perhaps simpler and faster code (?). However, this really creates a barrier to the usability and accessibility of files that are stored in DT . How can I access them if some thing goes wrong with DT and I am in mission critical environment ! (go creative here). It also limits other possible features like folder actions and the numerous scripts that could be used . It could be also a psychological barrier that holds some back from adopting DT fully . Some serious discussion on this is appreciated.

What would a database folder structure that is “organized and labeled” like the (F)inder look like? We can import files and we can index. The index structure is “organized and labeled” like Finder because it is Finder. Imported files can (and my own case do) come from all of the place, if imported, or come from nowhere if I scanned them into DT or I created them in DT. With duplicates and replicates, etc., etc., I think a database structure that was organized and labeled like Finder would be artificial, messy and, worse, be far more opaque than the current structure. Also, the database is searchable in Spotlight.

For me, part of the reason for using DTP is that it gives me a structure that does not necessarily match the Finder. If the Finder could give me the options I want, I’d use it instead.

With that said, the files aren’t exactly buried in DTP’s structure. If something goes wrong with DTP, Spotlight or another desktop search tool can and will find them for you.


While others have discussed the topic of a Finder-like organization as opposed to the DEVONthink 2 database structure, I guess I’m unclear what this has to do with the lengthy beta period of DT2? The file organization schema of DT2 is what it is, and what it will be in release 1. It doesn’t matter if DT2 was released back in January 2009 as you expected or January 2010, the file organizations is not going to change to something more Finder-like.

Encouraging DT to become more transparent by dumping their propriety folder structure and making it Finder congruent , first let me clarify that a Finder transperent folder strucutre does not mean replication all of the finder folders and making the exactly the same as DT, but rather that all folder in DT base can be put in a single Finder folder without adjusting the rest of the Finder’ folder structure , I can have Finder folder under documents call DT Base that is mirrors the folder structure in DT . The advantages of this system are :

1- Security, if DT is corrupted for some reason I can find my files. Yes, files can be searched with current structure with Spotlight ,but this assumes that I have given the files a meaningful name that I can search or the content is searchable . However in my case I let my scanner store files using serial numbering for simplicity . My scanned pdf are not in english so they are not searchable . If something goes wrong I have to plow through folder structure. In the current DT folder system , I would have no idea where they are .
2-Third party apps (Flexibility) : I would like to use Pathfinder or other applications , such as accessing files through a VMWare or Parallel in conjunction with windows software . I need to know where the file reside so I can attach them etc .
3-Safer : Time Machine - If I know where the file is located , it is easy for me to retrieve it using Time Machine . I don’t think this would be possible with the current folder system .
4-Speed : I can put a frequently used folder in the sidebar, allowing quick fingertip access to files without starting DT.
5-Portability : I can put the database or a particular folder in a USB flach .
6-syncing : sync particular folder using cvhronosync and then updatin the folder suing Synchronize command .

It seems to me that your points 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are arguments to keep the current structure of the database, as such actions on the internal files could result in database problems.

Points 2 and 6 in particular could make the database very unreliable, as they would allow modification of files without the ‘knowledge’ of the database. If that’s allowed, searches and many other important features of the database could not be trusted to reflect the actual content of the files stored within the database.

Regardless of the internal structure of the Files.noindex folder within the database package file, direct intervention that could affect the contents should be strongly discouraged.

Remember that, at any time, you can export selected files, groups or the entire database to the Finder. That can constitute the kind of ‘backup’ you described. It’s also a way of making files available to other applications without affecting the operations of the database, or of saving chosen content to a thumbdrive or other medium to use outside the database.

That’s what I was thinking while reading Khalid’s list.

Khalid, you’ve posed some interesting ideas and thoughts about the way some users might like to see the database structured, and it’s always refreshing to read what folks are thinking.

However, while the Mac’s Finder is a reasonable means of working with the OS’s file structure, it is far from ideal. We’re used to it as a part of our Mac user experience and it generally takes care of organizing our files. But it’s really limited and this is where an app like DTPO takes up the slack and uses its own more intelligent filing system. To design a database system that is as sophisticated yet “user friendly” as DTPO is takes some clever design skills. The folder structure within DTPO wasn’t designed to confuse us ordinary users but to bring better order to the semi-chaotic conditions of a Finder-based file system.

Try using the query language of such beasts as mySQL or Oracle to find your data and you’ll really appreciate the power and ease of use inherent in DTPO.

Now having sung the praises of the design, I have to mention that I’ve just gone through some 800 different files that I had previously imported into DTPO. Many of these files were JPG scans (scanned before I got DTPO) of clipped newspaper and magazine articles. What frustrated me was when I’d open a file using Preview and trim and crop the clipping, then save it with a new name (from the old “scan_20060528143168” name), I’d have no idea where it was saved. The newly-named cropped file didn’t appear in the current group so I figured I needed to do a save as to a Finder folder on my Desktop, then import the files later. Since the first several ones saved were scans of some necktie knots, I’d saved them as such with consecutive numbers. Doing a search in DTPO doesn’t turn up those particular files! However, I’m sure that they’re in there somewhere!

Thanks all for your comments. For all the time I have used DT, I was never aware of the export function as a solution to my conundrum in using DT . Maybe it is the deal-maker that has rescued DT for me , which might be surprising given its many other great features in the office version. Cheers !