Eric, I am very happy to read that you have a plan in place for enhancing DT’s documentation.
A section devoted to “everyday tasks” sounds intriguing and very practical, and would be a welcome addition. This section might begin with a “quick-start” guide to setting up a database to manage information for a specific project, and continue with “advanced topics.”
I also recommend, even in an “everyday tasks” discussion, a thorough discussion of Groups and Tags, which would include a description of how DT’s artificial intelligence works with them, similarities and differences between them, and specific recommendations for using them. An “everyday tasks” example might be an ideal place for this discussion.
I will contact you off-list with observations about the current DTPO manual, as well as the web site and the forums (all of which to me are part of the overall documentation set for DT). And, thank you for soliciting input.
There is another entire dimension to DT which I believe should be documented. I call this “using DT on a systemic basis.”
By this I mean: it is one thing to use DT for managing information dedicated to one purpose, such as research for a book. It is another thing to use DT as an information manager for multiple projects, each of which would use information contained in an underlying data store. My primary interest in DT is in the latter use case.
I have several active book projects. Each may reuse research which I keep in a folder called “Background Material.” This folder contains many sub-folders which cover topics ranging from science, the arts, psychology, religion, technology, and so forth. This structure is well-organized, but suffers from having the rigid, hierarchy-only view that Finder (and other file managers and operating systems in general) impose. In order to relate topics, I must manually create aliases to documents and manually place these aliases in other folders. This is a time-consuming task, and the process is difficult to manage, and the system easily fails.
My ultimate use of an information manager like DT would be to place all of the information in my Background Material folder under management, to take advantage of contextual full-text search and retrieval, help me discover relationships among my research documents, and allow me to associate documents with each other.
For a specific book project, I would select folders and documents from my central database, and DT would help me manage information about my book’s characters, locations, and so forth, along with the underlying supporting research documents.
Planning and in-depth product knowledge are key in designing and implementing such a systemic use of DT. And, while the information that I need to figure out how to do this may be in the manual currently, I must tease it from the manual in bits and pieces.
And, one’s computer set-up must be considered as well. For example, I keep all of my user data on a hard drive partition separate from the boot partition. However, I may need to change my partitioning scheme, and by moving the location of my documents, I would lose all of my indexed DT data. I could import data into my database, but then, this data is not available for reuse among project-specific databases. I could just keep everything – Background Material as well as projects – in one giant database, but from what I’ve read, this is not recommended due to the way that DT’s artificial intelligence works. This is all quite a dilemma. Granted, Devon is not responsible for my choices in setting up my computer, but I need to thoroughly understand the implications of my choices upon using DT, and understand the pros, cons, and options available for the different implementation models.
I have so far only implemented several project-based databases. I am already running into issues about how to reuse documents that I have placed into these databases.
Current technology my not be up to the task of such a “systemic” use of DT, but I would like to understand how far I can take this idea, and advocate for enhancements to DT and OS X to accomplish this goal.
In implementing such a system, there are many questions that must be evaluated, and many decisions to be made. I hope that you will consider this use case of DT in your enhanced documentation.
Many thanks, again.