Perhaps because of my experience in doing cutting edge research in science in the past, I’m a great fan of kludges, accomplishing what needs to be done by adapting what’s available. (By definition, the equipment to perform research in new areas is very unlikely to be found in a catalog. Hence the need to kludge.)
Let’s take the issue of adding user-defined metadata ‘fields’ (key-value metadata) to documents in a database. DEVONthink doesn’t create a proprietary document type that allows that. And there’s no universal system to do that that works for all the filetypes one might encounter in a database.
But there are some easy to implement kludges that mimic this, often well enough to satisfy the user’s objectives.
For example, Jim mentioned approaches to the Name of a document that might be useful.
Suppose I want to attach citation information to documents in a form that’s searchable, and will apply to documents of any filetype.
I can do that in a rich text note that’s linked to the referenced document. I can define metadata ‘fields’ such as TITLE, AUTHOR, SUBJECT, PUBLISHER, etc.
Example: I create text ‘placeholders’ for the entry of my metadata, like this:
TITLE (followed by a Space)
AUTHOR (followed by a Space)
SUBJECT (followed by a Space)
PUBLISHER (followed by a Space)
To avoid the drudgery of typing this for each document on which I wish to apply this scheme, I can create a Template document that holds the text, and create a new note from the template, or simply copy/paste from it into another note such as an Annotation note already linked to the referenced document.
Suppose I’ve got digital copies of the works of Aldous Huxley in a database. One of those would have this citation information:
TITLE Brave New World
AUTHOR Aldous Huxley
SUBJECT dystopian science fiction
and so on. (Filling out the forms would often be done by copy/paste.)
Now I can search for all the items of which Aldous Huxley is the author, in this way:
In the search query field, type 2 quote marks, then place the cursor between the quote marks. Type author aldous huxley to enter the criterion. As the criterion is defined by the quote marks as an exact string, only those documents that contain that string will be found.
As needed, I might add some other tricks, such as making the note’s Creation Date the date of publication of the book. As that’s a sortable characteristic, I could then sort Huxley’s publications by date. Or search for Huxley’s publications before or after a given data, or within a specified date range.
Because I’m using free form text ‘fields’, I’m not limited to the few metadata fields available for PDFs. I can have as many sets of metadata characteristics as I wish, for whatever purposes for which they are useful. And of course I can also use other criteria and filters in searches in combination with them. If I want, I could sort Huxley’s writings by word count.
Even assuming a future generation of DEVONthink that provides for user-created metadata fields, my text-based kludges might be preferred for some purposes, as they can be exported from the database.