How do I effectively use DA?

I’ve just downloaded a few days ago the trial versions of DA and DT. DT has already become an indispensable part of my day and I will definitely purchase a license. I’m not so sure about DA.

Every time I do a search, it takes like 5-10 minutes to complete it, downloads dozens or hundreds of links and 10-20 meg of something. Is this the normal experience or am I doing something wrong? In preferences I have it set to connect to 16 threads and skip files larger than 512 k. So what I do now when I run it is start the search and then go do something else and then come back to it when it’s done.

My understanding of the advantages of DA over just googling is that it will eliminate redundant links, dead links, ads, and has more ‘intelligence’ built in and ‘can pursue promising links on its own’ (whatever that means).

I like having more summary info returned to allow me to evaluate search results, but the process is so slow that I find myself ignoring DA and just using google in order to get on with it.

I need to make a decision shortly here to either buy the package of the two or just DT. Can someone help me out? Do I have my settings wrong, or is this just the way DA works? If it’s the way it works, am I under-appreciating its features? When I google, the first page almost always has the information i’m looking for. I’m trying to keep an open mind and determine why I’d first be willing to pay to search a different way and second, why I’d be willing to turn a process that now takes me about 1 second into one that takes 5 minutes.

I would tend to say that if you are satisfied with Google, you probably won’t find much advantage to DEVONagent.

On the other hand, if you drill down links from web pages looking for information, DEVONagent it has great attraction.

DEVONagent can search multiple engines at once.

DEVONagent can process queries that the engines themselves may not support. Compare DEVONagent operators - AND, OR, NOT, NEAR, BEFORE, AFTER, XOR - with the engines’ operators:

Web Engines Comparison Chart

that is your 10-20 Mb of something, it downloads the pages from the links returned by the engines and applies the query to them. depending on your settings, it may download the pages linked to those results and apply the query to them (repeating for the selected number of levels).

DEVONagent can also scan ordinary web sites and linked pages in the same way. look at the settings for the example “Tiger”, it checks popular Mac sites for mentions of the upcoming OS X release.

and you can schedule DEVONagent queries (in the settings) to run when you are not at your computer to be concerned about the time.

for those who find Google to be between inadequate and unusable, DEVONagent is a wonderful resource and timesaver.

where would i find the settings for this example?

to examine the settings for a DEVONagent search,
DEVONagent: Tools > Edit Search Sets…

opens a window with an open drawer.

select the example you are interested in, in this case
Tiger News
and examine the four sections of the window (Settings, Sites, Plugins, Schedule).

you can also right click on the example, choose Duplicate, and then make changes as you wish without losing the original. you will also find Import and Export commands if you want to swap searches with other DEVONagent users.

by the way, you can get a manual formatted for either screen or print use from the download page: … ercial.php

when i go to the Tools menu there is no sub menu item named ‘edit search sets’.

if i click on settings, then click on the down arrow where it says ‘sets’, it get new/delete/default.

just printed out the manual but am sure not seeing what you’re referring to. sorry if i’m being dense.

Douglas is talking about upcoming features of v1.5 which will be major revision and available right after the holidays.

geez guys, it’s taking like 2-3 minutes for someone to respond to my posts, would you guys get on the ball please!

seriously, i really appreciate the unbelievably prompt replies. i’ve printed out the users manual and my guess is that for an app of this complexity, the only way to get sufficiently acquainted with its capabilities is to read through the manual and then play with it.

my guess is there is a LOT of people who here about your apps, come check them out, realize they can’t quickly learn what they are and what they do, and bail and move on. You need some quick and easy way to introduce prospects to what your technology can do for them. it’s not enough to discuss features, everyone discusses features and guess what? users don’t care about features. they care about solutions. how can i use this app to make my life easier and/or better? most websites, including this one, make this fundamental marketing mistake.

my suggestion is to either provide a very basic and easy to follow tutorial that walks the clients through the basic functionality in 15 minutes or so to help them get traction with the application. Another approach is the one used over at for their fine application Notebook. They provide a link to a video tour that shows how one can use it.

i’ll bet if you followed the above approaches your ratio of sales to downloads would increase dramatically. right now it takes a lot of effort to really determine how one can use these applications (i’m including DT in this assessment).

You have wonderful technology and applications. Make it easier for a prospect to determine why they should care about any of it.

Sorry, I’m confused as always.

the last release was DEVONagent 1.3
the closest example to Tiger News is Marketing, which searches Mac sites for mentions of DEVONtechnologies products.

for the current release
DEVONagent: File > New Crawler…

Now the window on the left shows the examples
choose one, and the right side of the window will show the detail of the search.

under file/new crawler, my sets list is completely blank.

i guess i’ll just have to figure it out from the ground up.

that’s cool, i’ve decided to purchase the combo pack anyway. i think it’s going to be months before i start tapping into more than 5% of the power of these apps. and my gut tells me the deeper i go the happier i’ll be.

when you installed DEVONagent, there was a folder “Crawler Sets” in the dmg.

if you open the folder you will find the examples. To import them into DEVONagent you can double-click them or drag them to the application icon.

Funny, that’s sort of how I was describing DEVONthink to someone the other day, saying that impatient users might lose interest and abandon it without a clue how invaluable it can be(come). And DEVONagent’s learning curve seems steeper than DT’s so it may take longer to realize the benefits. Experiences differ, of course.

Lacking other resources I’ve referred people to this forum. But a certain percentage of users (and potential customers) never participate on forums, mailing lists, etc.

Good point about features vs. solutions. This morning I was reading the user portrait in the current newsletter and that’s one solution-oriented example of pitching the product.

. . .

Interesting topic in general, btw. Reminds me a lot of similar observations and suggestions I’ve made regarding the Mulberry mail client.

Quite likely. :slight_smile:

can’t find this feature, is this in an upcoming release?

yes, scheduling is in 1.5, I get confused about what is in the public release.


my guess is there is a LOT of people who here about your apps, come check them out, realize they can’t quickly learn what they are and what they do, and bail and move on. You need some quick and easy way to introduce prospects to what your technology can do for them…

I could not agree more. There is a need to show what it can do, differentiate it from Google, etc. searches, and let a user see that the investment in learning is worth the effort.

I sam struggling and reading some of the posts has helped.

I’m a new user and just dowloaded 1.6. Yes, it’s great but I agree its hard to figure out how to use it effectively. I have read the manual.
Some kind person above suggested going to File–New Crawler for examples
There is no “New Crawler” I can see. And I didn’t find one in the Dmg either. What am I missing, you kind people?

An example on how to customize for one or 2 quesitions would be great.
I need a lot of current event/history info.

Eg: How would you search for literacy rates world-wide?
For info the Miao people of China?
Or any other examples that appeal to the bright patient people out there.


Let’s set up an example:

[1] Select in the menubar Tools > Edit Search Sets, and click on the “+” symbol to create a new set.

[2] Name the set (e.g., “Miao People”) and click on the plugins you wish it to use.

[3] Enter a default search term. Example: (China OR Chinese) AND (Miao). If you wish to follow links, click on that and use the slider to indicate how deep you wish to go. Check Filter options, if you wish. For the moment, don’t tell DA to Archive the search results automatically. Close the window.

[4] In the menubar, select File > New Search. Click to the left of the search field. Your new search set will now be an available option. Click on it, and then on the Search button to perform your search.

[5] You may now review the search results. You can choose to transfer selected (or all) search results to your DEVONthink database. You can choose to archive the results in your DEVONagent Archive. For this example, go ahead and save the results to Archive (click on the “Add All” button). A new group corresponding to your search terms will be created in the Archive.

Now let’s show some real power. Suppose this search topic is one of your major interests. You wish to check your search resources frequently, looking for the latest literature on that topic.

[7] Go to the menubar and select File > New Search. Click to the left of the search field to select “Miao People” and then click on the Settings, then check the Filter Archive choice (items already archived won’t show in the new results). Let’s assume that it’s been a week since you last performed this search. The search results will represent the new information on the topic during the week. Now you may transfer these new items to your DEVONthink database. You will probably also want to add them to your topic Archive group. (Note: I usually set searches to show 100 hits per plugin. If a second search adds new hits, some of them may result from that limitation, and would pick up any hits above the 100 limit previously set, in addition to new items.)

That is power! If you wish, you could have edited the search set to automatically run on a schedule (hourly, daily, weekly) and to automatically save the search results to its topical archive. Personally, I prefer setting such a topical search for manual frequency, and to manually save the new incremental results to my topical archive.

Remember, of course, that if you were to modify the search terms, the modification would be saved to your named search set, and it would no longer perform as originally set up.

Eric or Christian: I think it would be useful to add a “lock” feature, so that one doesn’t accidentally change search terms on a topical search that is intended to keep check of new literature over time.


Thank you very much.
Will work through that and get back to you.
That is just what I needed!

Indeed. I hadn’t picked up on the usefulness of the “filter archive” either. Thanks one more time Bill!


Good stuff Bill!

Bill, thanks for this example. What about creating a repository for additional Search Sets?