DTTG and NAS Drive Comparison

This morning I stopped in to your site as I’ve done every month or so for years. I read your blog about NAS drives. It amused me in an irritating way. It was an excellent article which, in summary, discussed how NAS drives often disappoint people using Macs because they don’t meet manufacturer’s promises on speed and reliability.

The article was actually written by EconTechnologies. So the question occurred to me … why not hire the folks at EconTechnologies to write DTTG as well as your blog articles? They do an excellent job writing software as well as articles and they are already familiar with things that are slow and don’t deliver as promised.

My question is sarcastically presented, but sincere. The DTTG promises have been coming and being broken - literally for years. Obviously, there is a story behind this. It’s my hope that the story nothing more serious than the people who wrote Devonthink being successful enough that they can afford to be semi-retired.

But there are lots of disappointed DTTG owners and potential customers out there. There lots of young, underemployed people that would love to get their big break pleasing those customers. So why not find a way to give it to them? It’s a far better legacy than broken promises.

Either way, I wish you all the best.

A lot of us are eagerly awaiting the arrival of DEVONthink to Go 2, but I’m curious as to what promises you believe DEVON has broken to its users?

Obviously, I’m not using the word promise in the “legal” sense of the word, but in terms of what that average person would consider “reasonable” in a given situation.

The company has been telling us version 2 of DTTG to is coming for years now. This is reasonable for single malt scotch but, in my opinion, not so much for an iPhone app. If you disagree, that’s your choice.

It’s amazing how hard these “semi-retired” people are working in here!

i figured it was more a kind of goal, or a heads up for users to let them know folks were working on it behind the scenes. that’s a lot better than companies who have a policy to say nothing. and, much better than ones who fade away entirely, only to be updated once every few years, or never again.

i don’t know what is reasonable or not, but i like dt’s company philosophy about work and their work. i like their approach to security. i like how carefully constructed the apps are. and, i like the amazing range of features they bake into their stuff. a few months or years waiting for an overhaul when i have a product this powerful to use now is no problem for me.

I agree with EVERYTHING positive said about Devonthink. I want it to be around for a long time. That’s why I’m still using it and that’s the ONLY reason why I’m taking the time to post … otherwise this would be a total waste of my time.

I work for one of the 10 largest companies in the world and one of the things executives are taught to do during performance appraisals is to ask a group of people we admire to openly and honestly list our weaknesses. It’s quite painful at first because when you do, you will find that everyone pretty much comes up with the same negative things to say about you. And you learn that, yes, it is not all of them that is wrong, it is you’ll. The good thing about doing this is that if you work hard, you can become more successful by overcoming your failures as well as depending on your successes.

Jim … I’m glad everyone is working hard! Your growth potential is NOT the group of people that are fanatically in love with and defending everything about Devonthink. It is the people that don’t use it or have stopped using it or currently don’t like it. Look at your forum. What are most of the negative comments about? What are the reasons people don’t use Devonthink or have stopped using Devonthink? When was your first post about DTTG 2 written? When comparing DTTG to other successful apps (Ex. Omnifocus) do the explanations for the slow progress sound legitimate to you do they sound like excuses. Are you satisfied with your own progress? If so … great! If not, what’s your improvement plan?

Of course, if DT is looking to grow more quickly than it already is (is its user base growing?) or gain more market share than it already has, then I agree that they need to iterate and innovate more quickly. However, from the outside looking in, one nice thing about DT seems to be that it takes its time, it doesn’t churn through employees in a race to IPO, and it turns out a phenomenal product that doesn’t trash my stuff.

Rather than calling them out for posting an aspirational date for completion, perhaps we should have a discussion about what DT wants to do, and how it wants to get there. It seems entirely possible, based on their actions and comments, that they are satisfied with slow and steady growth, and they are willing to push back dates rather than push people.

In other words, what is the definition of “success” or “satisfactory progress?”

We do indeed keep an eye on the Forums and are aware of the most prevalent praises and curses (and DTTG is not the top of either list, BTW). Also note that the Forums as but a small view of our customer communications. Indeed, as on every forum I’ve ever participated in, there is a very tiny vocal minority that amplifies one point of view leading to the “I read this all over your Forums” comments we sometimes here.

As far as OmniFocus (or any other company) goes, we don’t spend time comparing ourselves to them. They do what they do - we do what we do.

Also, if we wanted to we could dumb our products down to the lowest common denominator and try and cash in on the largest User base we could, but that is not our focus. We also don’t have 50-500+ employees and don’t desire to be a giant development house cranking out iOS apps every three months.

Do we listen to kudos and criticism? Absolutely. But are we satisfied with our progress? We are busy looking forward as we work, not looking back.

“We are busy looking forward as we work, not looking back.” “…there is a very tiny vocal minority that amplifies one point of view”

The people that DO study history will tell you that “minorities” are often right, often not listened to, and often only make progress when they are vocal. And as far as forums go, sometimes the reason the group is “tiny” is often because everyone else has already given up and left.

Since you are busy, I just did a quick search on DDTG 2.0 in your own forum. Here is part of a post from the “small vocal minority” in November 2014 …

“…But we’re now well into year 2 (3?) of waiting for this product … and there is no sign of it. Not a whisper. Yes, I’m aware DT “doesn’t comment on unreleased products”, but it’s past that excuse now … it’s time DT came clean to the community. I have to make decisions for myself and the others in my company who use DT, and telling them “don’t worry, it will get fixed one day … maybe … I hope” is starting to wear thin for them and me.”

Here is a response from Bill also in November 2014 …

“DEVONthink To Go 2.x isn’t vaporware. Development is moving and internal goals are being met. But it won’t be released until it’s ready.”


“Majorities” often don’t like to look back on history. Not looking back is often far easier than saying “yea, you are right, we did say and do those things, didn’t we. Sorry.”

Actually (having been at this a very long time), the vast majority of Users choose to not participate in any community areas like a Forum. Even social media is used only by a small fraction of consumers (and not just ours). Most people prefer to not engage.

  1. Being vocal and/or in the minority does not confer correctness. In fact, people who come in and make loud declarations about things often find they had misconceptions and learn something.
    The Forums are an open environment for people to discuss things freely (even in disagreement with us - and as long as there are no personal attacks or foul language). However, having an opinion does not make it factual - minority, vocal, or not.

  2. " it’s time DT came clean to the community” :: We know what we have and haven’t said. It is our policy to announce when appropriate and to not speak out of turn. We also will not make promises we can’t deliver, nor will we deliver a substandard product (and for many Users DEVONthink To Go, while not perfect (and if it was we wouldn’t be building and testing version 2), has worked just fine). We have not lied or misguided our Users. (Indeed, we have often thanked people for their patience and understanding.)

  3. There is no one who wants to see DEVONthink To Go 2 in peoples’ hands more than us. NOT to cash in on the mobile market, but to help people on the go, especially in concert with our Desktop product. We have (and are) working very diligently and are quite excited about what has happened with DTTG2. (And I personally am testing it daily (along with anything else in-house we are working on).)

Thank’s, Jim. I agree with you about forums and social media. In fact, one of the reasons I like Devonthink that I can control and protect my own data. But, like many executives, I’m now on the road about 50% of the time. In response our company has been moving more and more towards iPhones and tablets with less dependency on computers.

DTTG 1.xx might work well for some. To me it’s more like a container you temporarily move reference material from your desktop into to read … you can’t really accomplish much in it. And it’s synchronization reliability is, well, still scary to me. Long ago I reluctantly had to switch to Evernote because it’s very robust, syncronization is 100% reliable, and it works on all platforms. But I hate using the “cloud.”

I honestly think you are deluding yourself by believing that 4 years is an appropriate length of time for a software company to go without a major update after first talking about it or that somehow, if you had “rushed” it out (in only a year or two??), it would have been “dumbed down” or “lowest common denominator.” That said, it’s your company, not mine, and I respect that.

Best of luck.

DTTG1 is surprisingly robust compared to its competitors, even considering its advanced age. One thing I recently enjoyed a couple months ago while on the road and unable to access wifi (sometimes access, but on unsecured networks) was the bluetooth sync. Amazing. And simple. It’s not a terrible leap beyond what I had on my Sony Clio 11+ years ago. Yet, no one else has it.

In their race to the cloud (and all of the security / access issues that brings), all of the other companies left alternatives behind. In other words, as Jim said, they designed for the lowest common denominator. This is great for always connected folks who don’t have any sensitive data. But, if you aren’t comfortable with the cloud, or even unable to use it because that would expose you legally, then you are out of luck. The only folks spending the time to think through this stuff and design for lots of potential use cases is DT. Kudos to them for having a different business model.

In my opinion, one thing that has been missing for a long time in DT / DTTG (in my opinion) is effortless syncing. That’s something I hope that DTTG2 will bring to the table. I may not be able to just turn on my device and have it sync (as Evernote does), but hopefully just a single button push will accomplish the task, ideally through a cloud provider like Dropbox (encrypted database, of course) without my computer turned on in the same room. The fact is that Evernote doesn’t have encrypted databases or syncing outside the cloud. Neither does OneNote. DT does, and this attention to user needs puts it heads and shoulders above the competition, even if the development cycle takes a few years (aeons in Internet years).

They probably need a longer development cycle considering the size of their company and the market they are designing for (not really the grocery list cloud – a bit more demanding). I think we have to get used to that. DT has repeatedly explained over the years that they are working on DTTG2, and they’ve made no promises, beyond saying that the upgrade would be free for existing DTTG1 users. Just because we are impatient to receive it doesn’t make frustrated users right, regardless of whether they are in the minority or majority.

More importantly, to me, is the fact that I get to support a company that aligns with my values. They think security is important. They place value on producing a solid product over making money. They don’t make us join a subscription pay model. And, they take vacations. It’s inconvenient for us when they take off during the summer, but it is cool that they try and create a sustainable, healthy business for their employees. I’m cool with waiting a bit longer if it means that we are going to get a better product and we are supporting a better, more human-friendly business model.

Some stuff I like:

“While developing and selling high-end software with top personnel, our goal is to bring responsible action and responsibility for people and the environment together. Working on our team is as enjoyable as using the software created, and the impact on the environment is minimal.”

“We do not track app usage or receive any other data from installed copies of our apps.”

“We try to treat all people fair and equal, whether they are our customers or not. Our prices are reasonably calculated and not open to individual negotiations; we give student and educator discounts and we don’t take money from NPOs.”

“From Jun 8th through 22nd our headquarters will be closed for vacation. Customer support will, of course, be available but might be a tad slower than usual. Very technical questions that require an answer from our head developer or myself might get answered only when we are back and our Macs on June 23rd.”

Truthfully, for DTTG 2.0, I would be ok with the current syncing method used right now. To have a similar cloud syncing, like Evernote, seems to be difficult to pull off due to the nature of a DevonThink’s database size can become very large. It also makes it harder to have a cloud system, since you can chuck any file type into a database, and not have it converted into an html format like Evernote.

For me, I would be ok with DTTG if it did the following.

Allowed me to sync mobile to mobile (For example, if I recently captured a url from my iPad, I would like to quickly sync with my iPhone as opposed to having to sync first with Mac.)

Similar functions like GoodReader (being able to annotate PDFs, downloading files from url link, moving files to different folders,

Improved media control (most people use DT for documents, but trying to play music files or movie is something that needs refinement.)

Some bug fixes (still having issues with databases being completely deleted, and due to the nature of iOS constantly evolution, rich text can be unreliable.)

I like DTTG for capturing urls, but it does need improvement. I know in time the development team will present something, but just my 2 cents.

@Dewey (et al): Good stuffs a’comin! :smiley: