DT Pro and The Brain

Does anyone else use both DEVONthink Pro and The Brain? I’d love to hear if you do.

At least lately several people abandoned TheBrain, see…

These are the latest threads related to TheBrain. However, this thread might be more useful:

I created this script to create “thoughts” in TheBrain (formerly “Personal Brain”) based on selecting one or more documents in DEVONthink.

The script is several years old, and was original build for the then-current Personal Brain version 6 – yes it still performs as expected with DEVONthink v2.7.4 and TheBrain version 8. There’s no guarantee this will always be the case as TheBrain developers could revise its XML schema at any time – though the schema has been stable since version 4.

Wow! The Brain is awesome, but what I would really like to see is a version of DTPO that I can run company-wide.

The built-in web server is nice, but the lack of multiple users/privilege levels, in addition to it not handling multiple simultaneous connections is an issue.

I would be happy to have at least a dozen or so people on something like a DTPO server.

DEVONthink is a decentralized model, so simultaneous access is not planned. Just saying. (And yes, people can argue the merits of a centralized model if they’d like. I will argue against it seeing as I’ve spent the last 7 hours trying to get an art department back up and running because the central server went belly up! A decentralized model would have allowed them to keep working (ie. making money for this company) while I worked on the server. :cry: )

Well I’m a recent convert to devonthink who has used thebrain for years and will probably continue to do so. My workflow between the 2 programs is still sketchy as I try (perhaps in vain) to differentiate my use between them rather than doubling up and repeating the work in both programs.

I absolutely love the visuals of thebrain and I find navigating it a pleasure. Devonthink I love the search function and that attachments can mostly be viewed from within the program. I also like the conventional folder structure I can set up in devonthink (but with the bonus of being able to replicate).

The main reason I switched to devonthink was I struggling to use thebrain. I used one brain for everything and it became too unwieldily. I also like things very organised and when adding thoughts or files to thebrain it never felt complete - how I wanted to link or tag or what not, and I was worried information I was putting into the brain was being dropped into a bottomless pit. Now this i consider a problem with me (lol) rather than the software because the instant search and extended search is very good so I wouldn’t “lose” documents and if the document or thought you added is important - it would likely be in an area of the brain you go to often and so would get tidied up as you go anyway. I think that’s one of the first things you need to let go of to take full advantage of the brain - any perfectionist or obsessive qualities because thebrain (I think) works best if you let it evolve a little more naturally rather than spend endless hours trying to set it up “perfectly”.

So for me, devonthink has become my long-term stable knowledge and information manager. I can file things with little thought into a conventional folder or tag structure and that’s allowed me to get a little free-er with my use of thebrain. I now use specific brains for specific purposes or topics and I’m ok with them being “messy” and evolving. For the most part I keep my attachments in devonthink - though occasionally they will be duplicated to thebrain (or maybe dropbox) but I just tag them on both ends so I’m aware. I tend to pull out information from devonthink to add to thebrain - relevant information from attachments (not copied in full) just get pasted in the notes section of the thebrain and a devonthink link added. I seem to have found a distinction between my use in that a lot of my mundane personal documents can live on their own in devonthink, whereas the more knowledge based stuff gets summarised and added to thebrain (and the thoughts notes) to navigate. Anything added to thebrain from devonthink - even as a summary or just a thought with a link back to the information in devonthink also gets tagged so I’m aware - and that’s pretty much everything.

As an aside, now thebrain has released their iOS apps I can navigate the structure (including notes and any attachments) of my brains from my devices which is great. However I still prefer to keep my attachments in devonthink as you can pick and choose which documents to sync, whereas thebrain is all or none (with some file size exclusions).

Going forward I imagine the use of the 2 programs will change somewhat. There’s probably still some friction from doubling up the work in places but for me it seems necessary as on their own neither program gets the best from me. I’d probably benefit from checking out apple scripts etc and seeing if some of what I’m doing can be automated - like taking the name of the note and adding it as a thought in the brain with the devonthink id link in the notes. I’ll be sure to have a look at the link above when I have time to start exploring this.

So yeah, just some crazy long thoughts from a DT and TB user.


Just a note if you’re actually filing things directly in the Tag Groups… If you delete a Tag group, you will be deleting the actual file, not a Replicant. If you Tag a file, a(n uncounted) Replicant will be made in the appropriate Tag Group. Deleting a Tag Group in this case will only delete the Replicant, leaving your originals intact.

I don’t know if that’s what you’re doing, but I just wanted to put the warning out there in case someone was intending to do that.

Well, I had a relatively brief affair with “The Brain”. I always preferred Pinky, actually, and The Brain became cumbersome for me before the day was over.

It seems that DTPO requires too much fiddling for me, though less than The Brain. I constantly wish DTPO were smarter, faster and played better with others (more collaboration features). It’s so…archival. I was hoping for something that would actively help me make sense of all the content I have, not just be a better Spotlight.

I have some killer queries in DTPO, especially for traversing my stored e-mail, using mail rules, Hazel, AppleScript and Automator, and I can easily burn a day geeking out and getting PDF’s with certain qualifiers to show up with the right tags, but if I’m honest with myself, I can do the parts that benefit me most with Spotlight and the integrated ABBYY OCR. Similar documents is, occasionally useful, but the fact that everything functions at document granularity instead of letting me find paragraphs or sentences that matter makes it a lot more difficult. So I gather the affected documents and script them into PDF Pen Pro so that I can highlight the interesting bits, but it’s so convoluted and the slightest weirdness breaks the scripts and I end up with another puzzle to solve.

Let me point out that I do tech industry analysis, so I get a firehose of data and e-mails, product specifications, press releases, data sheets, transcripts, more than I could possibly read; I don’t even try anymore. I use DT to filter and correlate with stuff that happened a few months or years ago. Worse, if someone offloads their work to me, I get a memory stick with 30-50 GB of content that I need to absorb.

If I had to buy DTPO again, I would do so in a heartbeat, but it should be easier to work with a large, dynamic flow of data. It’s not the 90s anymore; people aren’t dealing with hundreds of documents and articles; it’s hundreds of thousands, with a thousand more coming in every day. I don’t want to start off with a filter in place just because my tools can’t handle the volume. Filtering should be done once you’ve captured the entire information set.

I’m also disappointed that DTPO does nothing with tables of content, spreadsheets or any other kind of textual data. Then there are the database size limits. I get single PDF’s that are thousands of pages long.

Where should I expect innovation to come shining through with DTPO? I’m drowning here, and The Brain is NOT the answer. Does anyone have a recommendation for an enterprise version of something like DTPO? Preferably multi-user that can handle much larger databases and documents?

DTPO is the best thing out there so far, but there’s so much room for improvement!

Apologies in advance if this post sounds negative. Not my intention.

You’ve read (apparently) giga-if-not-terabytes of “tech industry” content and not run across a solution that meets your specs? 8)

I appreciate the thread – but I don’t think anyone suggested that TheBrain was an alternative to DEVONthink or vice versa. And neither is a solution for NSA-level semantic analysis. Solutions exist (like Watson) – but not on the desktop and not for less than $200.

Blame me for bringing in the tangent.

The Brain claims to be suitable for larger data sets and has a multi-user option (TeamBrain). At least for my world, I found that it’s very difficult to do anything but the basics with. DTPO is much more amenable to scripting and augmentation with other tools, and doesn’t run into performance limits as quickly. For The Brain, I was adjusting VM sizes almost instantly (it’s written in Java; I think DTPO is a full native app).

I don’t think I’m the only one by far who would pay $500-$1000 for a more upscale version of DTPO, and multiples thereof for multi-user. My frustration is that there isn’t a high-er end version. On this very forum, I’ve seen several requests for support of tome-length PDF’s, better memory efficiency and the ability to handle terabyte databases, but no interest in pursuing it, it seems.

I don’t even see much mention of what’s coming in DTPO 3.0, but I have credit card in hand. DTPO is great! How do I get more? When is more coming? What does more look like?

Meanwhile, I plan to push DTPO as hard as I can with a new Mac Pro, but some of the limits seem to already be closing in. Even a 24-thread, dual GPU monster can’t help if the tool can’t take advantage of it.