DTPO and academia (again...)

Hi there,

I’m currently testing DevonThink Pro Office and am generally liking, though I have a few questions that I can’t seem to find answers for searching the forum (apologies if I’ve overlooked them…!).

so, here we go :slight_smile:

  1. It seems to me like I am re-inventing the wheel, seeing that so many academics seem to be using DT - is there a database (template) exchange forum? the ‘research’ sample database doesn’t look very research-y to me in terms of how I (humanities scholar) organize my own research, i.e. reference material, notes on those references, chapter drafts, pdfs from online databases etc. It might be just me, of course :slight_smile: I’m mostly just curious what works for other scholars, a new database for every article, theme, class (teaching material - parezcoydigo has a wonderful post on his blog with screenshot on course management with DTP). Would anyone be willing to share screenshots of their database setup?

  2. I’m still slightly baffled by the OCR - I’ve used Evernote before and without my doing anything, I can search in any pdf or image for text. It seems like DTPO does this with pdfs, even without having to convert them to searchable pdfs, but not with images. Is this correct?

  3. The DevonAcademy seems very handful, but the screenshots don’t seem to match, e.g. it shows a screenshot of a note with a ‘classify’ button in the bottom right hand corner - I can’t for the life of me find it, so either I’m a bit blind or it’s a version difference between 1 and 2? Also, I seem to be able to only find ‘autoclassify’ but not a manual way, I’m sure I must have missed it. Or is the only way now the little tophat icon that slides out a panel to the right? Come to think of it, I don’t think I have grasped the ‘classify’ function at all.

  4. When I use the Endnote script ‘insert citation’ it keeps saying there is an error, despite having an endnote bibliography open and a reference selected. What am I missing?

I hope some of these questions can be answered, so thanks in advance for your help!


Kabo - didn’t want to let this slide without a response. If I’ve the time, I want to put together a longer post on my database structure. May be of interest. Hope to include screenshots as well. Hope others chime in as well.


I am experiencing the same behaviour; I attributed it to my old version of Endnote (vs. eight), though. I still have to upgrade to a newer one. Which one are you using?


Hi there,

thanks for the replies - on re-reading my post I noticed I sound a little…impatient :slight_smile: I’d been trawling through forums here, at Scrivener and Papers and was getting a touch frustrated, sorry for that.

@David: I would be most interested (research or course management) if you find the time - I understand it’s part personal preference as well, and obviously not everyone wants to share their database, so it’s much appreciated.

@Nils: I’ve got Endnote X1. I might upgrade to X3 in a little while, but not sure yet.

I did find an answer yesterday in a different thread or possibly in the manual (yes, it turns out that helps to answer a lot of questions, doh) to one of my problems - it seems that the recommended ‘careful group structure’ is directly relevant for (auto)-classify, i.e. how the DTPO files the document for me. I’m not so worried about that, I’m more interested in finding related documents. This I find terribly freeing, as I ran into the exact same problem I had with the physical documents on my desk and which I was hoping to escape: file topically or not? for example, if I have an article on nationalism, in Germany, with regards to events like Eurovision - where to file? Germany, nationalism or Eurovision? What if it relates to 2 different chapters? where to stick it? :slight_smile:

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the folder structure is irrelevant as long as I search for either Germany, nationalism or Eurovision (or all of them), DTPO will find t for me regardless of where I parked it, right? (assuming searchable PDF)

I’m still not clear on the OCR/searchability of PDFs after much testing. Image-only PDFs, regardless of whether I’ve put them through the OCR conversion or not, seaam to be searchable after sitting for a while in the databse and show up as ‘PDF + text’. Some still show up as ‘PDF’, but are searchable anyway. The only thing I can’t get to work is searching in images such as JPGs or PNGs, which is possible in Evernote (even with handwritten text!). Is this functionality simply not available? If so, will it be in the future? It’s rather inconvenient to have DTPO for all info except those image files, but I guess not impossible…any ideas?

Somewhat off-topic - I thought I’d read somewhere in the forum about a program that summarizes PDF articles, but can’t find it anymore…it sounds a little crazy, has anyone heard about this kind of program?


I’ve been at a crossroads for quite some time regarding how exactly to populate my database. To me, DTPO is so powerful that it is, I believe, critical to give serious thought to database organisation.

I generally do not use DTPO as a writing environment. I use start some writing projects in DTPO, but lately I’ve used it for notes, usually in plain text. I generally reserve actual writing for Bean and/or LaTeX (well, TexShop).

At the moment, I use DTPO as a partial repository. I say partial because not everything goes in. I use the indexing feature quite a bit (for searches), but I’ll come to that in a bit.

For the most part, I use DTPO primarily to hold news items gleaned from the web. Actually, most of the news items come from NetNewsWire. It’s a quick and easy way to get those items into DTPO, and I find that I collect far more than I actually read (the curse of being an academic perhaps?). In one sense, however, this has come in handy, particularly when I search for something much later and come across a news item I didn’t know I had. (I usually quietly thank Eric and the team when this happens!) In my field (which changes almost weekly, it seems), I’ve found that keeping a record of ‘what’s going on’ can be critical.

I also use DTPO as a bit of staging point for writing projects. I have a top-level folder called “In Development” that holds sub-folders named after the various writing and research projects I’m involved with. In this regard, DTPO it is functioning more or less as a finder replacement as the folders and sub-folders (organised by project) hold pdfs, replicants of other items in the database, data files, and other miscellany. The most useful bit about doing this for me is replicated other files from the database into a specific writing project folder. If I come across something in my database and realise that it is directly related to a particular writing project, I can quickly replicate to that project’s folder. I know you more or less duplicate this using an alias in Finder, but using DTPO feels a bit more robust.

Another part of my database that I use often is a top-level folder for holding information about books/references that, at some point, I need to get. It’s a good way, I find, of just quickly adding references or new book announcements and then visiting maybe one a week or two to action. I also use it as record to track interlibrary loan requests and any book orders that I send through to our library (we’re lucky in that our library, even in this economic climate, still has a bit of money to spend so they love it when they get requests).

So what is not included in this database? Well, all of my journal articles, for one, but also the thousands of other pdfs (reports, presentations, books, etc.) and other file types relating to my research. Were talking GBs and GBs, and I suspect most people on these forums are the same. I don’t store them in DTPO simply because the size of the database would be HUGE. Yes, I could allocate to a separate database, but instead I tell DTPO to index my “Research” folder (which lives on my hard drive) every week or so. In essence, while all of these files do not necessarily live in DTPO, the application is nevertheless aware of the content because it has indexed it. I love this. I can find anything instantly and, as I say, it does not have to actually reside within the database. As an added advantage, having the ability to navigate all this stuff via the Finder (or Path Finder, which I use) is quite nice.

Kabo: you wondered about how to file stuff. I wrestled with this as well. In the end, I decided to file my journal articles (for example) based on the journal title as opposed to any subject or tag. Because they are indexed, I can use DTPO to show me which journal articles were recently indexed (say, in the last month, which I do) and this helps remind me that, oh yeah, I wanted to read that. I went with this method because, like you, I wasn’t sure what to do when a single article crossed many fields (as they often do).

Anyway, let me address the number of databases I use. I actually have only three. My “MAIN” database holds exactly what I described above. I like to keep it all together as it seems to be easier (for me, anyway) rather than opening and closing multiple databases. Perhaps I’ve not explored fully cross-database workflows. I also have a ‘teaching’ database that holds files and stuff relating to teaching. It doesn’t get used a huge amount, to be honest, as I generally just use finder to hold all my teaching-related files. Finally, I have a ‘personal’ database that holds news items and misc files on a variety of subjects, mostly tech- or Mac-related. My most personal stuff (budget, scans of passports, etc.) is contained within an encrypted disk image.

That was off the cuff so maybe a bit disjointed. Apologies, if so.



@David: Thanks a lot - it might be disjointed, but it made a lot of sense to me :slight_smile:

I don’t tend to do much news searching or other web-clipping, my field seems to be rather set in plain old PDFs or books. So, I am envisioning DT mainly as a repository of these PDFs, my own notes and scanned book articles. WHat would be lovely would be to have Endnote or Papers export the PDF’s with the reference and notes as a linked annotation to the PDF. I have lots of ‘labels’ in Endnote, which it would be nice not to have to re-do in DT. Maybe something for a different post.

I’m beginning t like the idea of indexing rather than adding the PDFs to the database, although I have only a miniscule library in comparison to you - I still have so many piles of paper floating around though, which I might eventually get to scan. I wouldn’t mind letting Endnote or Sente or Papers organize the PDFs, however, they can’t do the OCRing, which means I’d have to send the image only PDFs first to DT, and then export to Endnote/Sente/Papers. Awkward, but not impossible,I guess.

As I’m evaluating I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m spending too much time trying to get it to work, or whether I should just give up on the ‘one repository for all’ idea…especially as I still haven’t found a solution to the OCR in image files that evernote does. hmmm.

I wish I had a personal DT buddy here in Berlin to annoy with all my questions… :wink: And I have to learn to do shorter posts!

Thanks again for taking the time to share your set-up!

Right-click on the image, go down to Convert, and then choose “to Searchable PDF”

As for items that can be filed under several groups, that’s what replicants are for