DT3: Bookends integration glitches

DT 3 is a hugely impressive upgrade. I’ve been working with it now for several weeks and am discovering all manner of ways that it will streamline and extend my scholarly research and writing. Congrats to all concerned.

A feature for which I had modest hopes of improvement in v. 3, however, is still a disappointment: DT3’s integration with Bookends, the reference manager from Sonny Software. I’m a longtime Bookends user (currently at version 13.2.4). I use it almost daily; my main BE library has about 13,000 records.

DT3’s trick of importing Bookends records as separate .rtf files loaded into a dedicated group is pretty neat. But the format and completeness of the data thus extracted leaves much to be desired:

  • There seems to be no way, in DT3 or Bookends, to manage what is carried over into DT3. Vital fields in the Bookends record are NOT imported, for example, the name of a book’s publisher. If the location (city) of publication is stipulated in BE, then that is imported, but for me – a university professor of English – the location of publication is much less important than the name of the publisher.
  • Editors, if any, are ignored. For edited collections of essays, no person responsible for the work is recorded. In my field there are many edited collections; in some areas they are the standard form of scholarly publication. These are invisible when imported into DT3.
  • So, if you were looking for that new collection of essays on climate change out of University of Minnesota edited by Jane Doe, you’d be out of luck, because DT3 assumes that only the name of a principal and/or single author is relevant and that the publisher is not relevant.
  • Files created in DT3 from Bookends records are in, to my mind, an odd citation format. (Maybe it’s based on a reduced subset of a scientific journal format? The feature certainly feels as though humanities formats were not considered.) Journal titles, volumes, and numbers, are listed above the title of the article, which should have logical priority. For books, the year is listed first. Even when the author’s first name is stipulated in BE, DT3 records only [Last name, First Initial]. Multiple blank lines are inserted between what is imported. Perhaps these correspond to ignored fields?

I know that I can select an imported BE record in DT3 and “Launch URL” to open BE, where I can look at detailed information stored there. (Though performance of that seems a little spotty.) With some careful effort in DT3 I can find useful data that will be presented with more clarity and detail in BE.

What I WANT – and what would be far more useful – is something like this: when DT3 imports BE records, it should import the data, or a subset of the data, that shows up in the BE Summary view. (I can see that the “Links” portion of the Summary view, used to jump around in BE to records within BE, would pose problems; that’s probably not necessary.) If no author is listed, then use the name of the first editor in the title of the file created in DT3. So, instead of this:


Returning to Freud: Clinical Psychoanalysis in the School of Lacan

New Haven

Keywords: Lacan, Jacques

(I’ve chosen a very simple example and deleted extraneous blank lines) – you get something like this:

Ed. Schneiderman, Stuart

Returning to Freud: Clinical Psychoanalysis in the School of Lacan

New Haven: Yale University Press

Keywords: Lacan, Jacques

I’m not sure where the limitations are introduced here, maybe in how DT3 imports the data, maybe in what BE will allow to be imported. But this one change in importing would make what is now a curiosity into a genuinely useful thing.

FYI Serge over at the Bookends forum wrote last week, “we will add cross linking support with DEVONthink in the next update of our app. DEVONthink will also add support of our links with their next update.” Of course, I have no idea whether this will resolve such specific issues, but I imagine it has real potential for a number of improvements (scriptable or otherwise).

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Wasn’t Serge talking about the iOS version?

You might try looking for AppleScripts that export/import data. There are some remarkable pieces of work out there, if you search the respective forums.