editing files with external applications

Now I don’t want to get into trouble for mentioning DT2.0 but it has been mentioned for 2 years now that DTpro will allow editing of files in a database with an external application. Is this still scheduled to happen?

I don’t see this feature being all that difficult to implement. In fact, one can already achieve this, but rather tediously, by indexing a file (rather than importing) and then continuously re-synchronizing the file after every edit.

I believe that if external editing is allowed then users requesting for mind-map plug-ins, etc… will be satisfied to a certain extent as now they can now use any external software he/she chooses. In my opinion, this will make DT a much more robust program.


Maybe I do not fully understand your request. I import all kinds of files (XLS, OO3, Pages, Keynote etc.) into my main database. When I double-click the file, the respective application opens the file inside the package. When finished, the result is of course saved and inside the files section of the database/package. I do this 100x per day.

Or do you talk about RTF and RTFD files that are literally in the binary database and do not have a representation in the “files” section? Why would you want to edit those files in another application?


Are you importing or indexing? What you say seems to be possible if you are indexing. But the problem with indexing is that a) I prefer the files to physically sit inside the database rather than merely linked to external files, and b) I want to edit the same .rtf sometimes inside devonthink (for minor changes) and othertimes with neooffice (much better table formating features). If a file is indexed and changes have been made with an external application, I no longer have the ability to edit within devonthink.

I am importing. Mainly Excel and PowerPoint/Keynote files.

Your DTP file is a package. That is a special type of folder. Inside this folder you have subfolders for backups and files as well as the database itself, a settings file and a lock file. In the Files subfolder all the imported files of unknown file type are stored, which are the ones DTP cannot display itself.

[size=75]BTW, I hope DTP V2 will use Leopards Quickview.[/size]

When you double-click such a file in DTP, the associated application is started working and saving using that file in the Files subfolder. No problem here.

[size=75]@Bill: correct me when I am wrong or if there is danger (on the other hand, I use this for months now without any trouble).[/size]

I see. This is the root problem. You are talking about RTF files, which can be displayed and edited inside DTP and are not stored in the Files subfolder. They are instead stored in the binary database file.

[size=75]BTW, I read in this forum before that V2 will change that and then the workflow as described above should be also possible with RTF files.

Anyhow. I suggest as long as we use V1.x and you want to import rather than index - a choice I understand fully as I never ever even touched the Index feature for a multitude of reasons - you should use the clipboard. Something like this:

1 - select the RTF in DTP
2 - hit Cmd+A (“select all”) and Cmd+C (“copy”)
3 - open NeoOffice or whatever RTF editor you prefer
4 - open a new document
5 - hit Cmd+V (“paste”)

6 - do your editing

7 - hit Cmd+A (“select all”) and Cmd+C (“copy”)
8 - go back to the original RTF in DTP
9 - hit Cmd+A (“select all”) and Cmd+V (“paste”)

I have zero background in Apple Script, but it is easy to imagine that you could write a simple script that does 1-5 and another script that does 7-9 automatically, removing the pain of manual steps.

alternative approach

The thing I would do is to edit such documents in a non-RTF format like Pages, Scrivener package, Microsoft Word … and then “print” into a PDF file. Import the resulting PDF file and whenever there are changes replace it with the current version. The original file would of course also live in DTP as unknown file type.

This approach however gets ugly when you want to have replicas of the document in the database and it completely removes the ability to do minor changes directly in DTP.