The ability to work entirely using an iPhone or iPad (free from the shackles of the desktop/laptop) is incredibly appealing to me and many people (and to all the Windows PC users who have iPhones and can’t even use DEVONthink Pro Office for Desktop).
However, as the previous “Scanner Pro Integration” thread revealed, there’s currently a super clunky 9-step process (for EACH scan you create) to share scans with DEVONthink To Go, which is a real buzzkill when you have to scan lots of documents every day:
The above sounds like a horror story but the DEVONthink To Go 2 integration is actually equally bad in ALL other 3rd party apps that create documents. There’s always just the slow, generic “share” panel which takes a bunch of clunky steps to get to and a bunch of clunky steps to finish. (And never preserves the original filenames.)
However, this gives me an idea… and idea that would improve all 3rd party app integration, for free, without talking to any other software developers, and with minimal coding effort from DEVONtechnologies.
- Make DEVONthink To Go 2 (DttG2) use the Dropbox API (and all other supported cloud storages, but I’ll use Dropbox in this example).
- Add an option for DttG 2 to WATCH one or more specific NON-DATABASE Dropbox folders, such as “/Dropbox/Scanner Pro”.
- Provide options for what to do when DttG 2 detects a new file in one of the watched folders, such as “Move into Global Inbox database and delete original file” or “Copy into Global Inbox database and keep original file”.
- Make DttG 2 check all watched folders via the Dropbox API at startup and every time it detects that you switch back to DttG 2 from another app, and at periodic intervals, to ensure that DttG 2 always quickly detects the files as they come in, for smoother integration.
- With this solution, there’s NO NEED to integrate with ANY 3rd party apps (scanners or any other apps!). Instead, you simply let the 3rd party apps write their files to a specific Dropbox folder, and then DttG 2 detects the files in that folder and copies/moves them into your database. This preserves filenames, timestamps, and is ten billion times faster and easier than the clunky “Share” panel process in 3rd party apps.
So with this kind of integration, an example setup for Scanner Pro would be:
- Scanner Pro setup: Create a Workflow, set it up as you like it (such as "Name the file “Receipt YYYY-MM-DD.pdf”, “Email it to my assistant”, and “Place it in /Dropbox/Scanner Pro”, and “Delete the original scan file from Scanner Pro, to clean up Scanner Pro afterwards”).
- DEVONthink To Go 2 setup: Set it to watch “/Dropbox/Scanner Pro” for new files, and choose “Move file to Global Inbox and delete original from watched folder”.
- Usage: Scan a document in Scanner Pro, tap the “Archive Receipts” workflow, and you’re done (the file will be on dropbox). Switch over to the DEVONthink To Go 2 app and it will detect the new document and download it into the database.
It means that all apps (and there are lots) that support saving files to Dropbox can be made to easily integrate with DttG 2 without needing to individually share (and rename!) files one by one via the clunky Share process. It’s all just transferred quickly and easily between the apps, via the cloud, with no need for the user to interact BETWEEN the apps. It happens automatically.
This would enable all kinds of cool workflows. Windows users with an iPhone/iPad (who have no ability to run a desktop version of DEVONthink) are plentiful, and they could make DEVONthink To Go 2 for iOS watch a folder like “/Dropbox/Send to DT”, and then just dump files in there from their computer, to instantly get them into their document repository. Cloud folder watching would open all kinds of wonderful possibilities and freedom and interoperability between all iOS apps and operating systems that simply support cloud sharing. Another example would be having a shared Dropbox folder with a colleague, and letting DEVONthink to Go 2 for iOS index all files your colleague adds to the folder. Cool huh? The possibilities are endless!