DT in historical research


I am trying to decide whether or not to buy DT to use for my PhD work in history, specifically for note-taking (on the basis of books/articles/sources).

Basically the choice is between a ‘traditional’ note-taking app (there are two aps specifically developed to aid scholars in their research called Scribe and Lit-link, borh based on Filemaker) or something like DT.

I would be very much interested in hearing how scholars/historians use DT for note-taking and what the benefits of DT would be over traditional note taking apps.

Many thanks,

I answered a similar query a month ago: the files derived from FileMaker are strict database and require exact consistency in entering records. The Devon products are free-form and they accept many kinds of data in a variety of formats.

DevonNote may be adequate for starters, but eventually you’ll prefer DT Pro, and since students receive a discount, it might be preferable to go with the top product.

The tutorial will get you started, or just create work folders for courses or papers and start dragging web links, Word files, bibliography entries, etc into the relevant folders. The more you add, the more the Search and Classify buttons will help you locate data and also inspire thoughts about it.

Thanks! I decided to buy DT Pro yesterday and look forward to working with it.


How has your work with DT Pro been going? I am an archaeologist using it to write my Masters Thesis. So I am interested in hearing how researchers from other disciplines are using DT Pro.


R. Joe

Hi R. Joe,

Well, it is going well but i am just beginning to discover what DTP can do. I must also say that i have temporarily stopped working with it: i have an iBook G4 with 640 MB ram and 1 GHz. Already a 2 GB database and it just works too slow. Planning on buying something new.

Anyway, so far i have used it to:

  • organize info according to topics, especially the smart groups are very useful; for example one can create a group for each thesis chapter and within the groups create different subgroups for topics connected to that chapter
  • add comments to images ( i have photos of loads of archival material and the ability to use the comments field to add metadata and then include them in a search is great
  • still to do: importing my Excel files with several hundred “entries” (including notes) into a DTP sheet for easy viewing; obviously i can’t wait for the moment when linking from within records in a sheet is possible :slight_smile:

I could probably write more and no doubt forgot things but too busy now to be really elaborate. When i get back to working more intensively with DTP i can tell more if you like.


The limiting factor is memory, more than CPU speed (although CPU speeds are so much faster on current Macs that you will definitely see a difference). Go for as much RAM as you can.

As one usually works chapter by chapter, consider splitting out the material that you’ve organized for each chapter into a new database. The smaller database will likely work much faster.

In the new database, add a subgroup for your writing/editing work, and another for new content that you bring in while you are working in that database.

Why? Because when you get a faster Mac you will eventually want to move back to your “big” database. When you do that, all you have to merge back into the big database will be the subgroups containing your writing and new content. Merging everything back in might result in creation of duplicated material.

Don’t forget that you still have your big database available for reference purposes. Although they can’t run concurrently, you will be able to move back and forth between them to look for additional reference resources, for example, in the big version of the database.

But you will probably spend most of your time in the small, fast database. :slight_smile:

Good suggestion for the moment, thanks.