Immensely frustrated : tables ? sheets ? UI ?

OK, this is really getting immensely frustrating.

I am in a rich text note, want to add a table. I look at the toolbar of that note … nothing. I right click, see “Insert”, aha! But it only has Bullet, Line Break, Paragraph Break, Page Break (?!), Date, Time, and Picture. Now I am lost. I can swear I put a table into a note before. OK, time to go to help. Turns out if I menu select “Format / Table” I can insert a table.

“Format / Table” to insert a table, with nothing under “Insert”?

Next I make my table narrower than page width, and I select 2 adjacent cells in a table, and do Format / Table / Merge Cells. Now that table is screwed up, with just that single row of the table now taking up the page width.

So I decide tables are screwed up. Let me try a sheet. I manage to name my columns (every single thing needs a mouse move and mouse click). Ah, I have my first row. I enter my stuff in the first cell, which is about 4 characters wide. My text scrolls off the left edge of the cell. Cell does not grow in width, nor does my text wrap so the cell can show all the text. Yuck. I have to re-size my cell manually, and no option to wrap that I can see anywhere.

Row 1 done. How do I add a new row? Er… tab? right click? Right click again gives me Spelling / Grammar, Writing DIrection, Speech, Substitutions. Turns out I have to click on the little Record+ icon on the tool bar.

I thought DTP 2.0 was going to have a re-worked and improved UI. What I am finding in UI and usability is, frankly, awful. The learning curve to get really basic things done like tables or sheets is just overwhelming, its value greatly diminished by this user-layer crap.

I will be greatly relieved to hear that serious UI improvements are in the plans, that they are spending some serious time thinking about usability. Honestly, I do not expect to hear that.

DTP will sit on many potential user’s shelves just because it is too unpleasant to use.

Sorry but I had to vent.

Sophie, DEVONthink uses Apple’s basic Cocoa rich text editor, which is very similar to TextEdit. Rich text does support limited capabilities for creating tables. You might open TextEdit and choose Help for information about the Table feature in Apple’s rich text. You can adjust the width of a table by dragging, and the widths of columns by dragging. If you mess up something like merging cells, there’s always Undo.

The simple little Table Editor is a component of OS X that’s been around for some years now. It’s not fancy but will allow creation of a table with a designated number of rows and columns, addition of rows and/or columns, merging and splitting of cells and nesting a table inside a table.

As for Sheets, there’s plenty of information available to answer the questions you raised about how to add/delete rows, columns, etc. Choose Help and enter the search term “Sheets”.

Note that if you open a Sheet you can customize the Toolbar and populate it with the commands you are most likely to use.

A Sheet is a simple approach to presenting information in tabular form. Columns are sortable and there is the capability to do some simple calculations. Sheets are not meant to compete with the capabilities of an Excel or Numbers spreadsheet, although spreadsheets in those applications can be exported as delimited text files and imported into DEVONthink Pro/Office as Sheets, and vice versa. If you export a Sheet using File > Export > Files & Folders, the result will be a delimited text file readable by spreadsheet applications such as Excel. (You might need to change the filename suffix to, e.g., “.tsv” for import by some spreadsheets.)

Unlike a table in a rich text document, Sheets hold only plain text, so they can’t employ hyperlinks or hold images.

Sheets have uses in a DT Pro database. If, for example, I want to maintain an inventory of my antique furniture, I might use a Sheet for that purpose and could calculate a total of the appraised values of the items. Although I can’t directly link to other documents that contain pictures and/or more information about each item, I could insert those document names in the appropriate cells within a column created for that purpose, then select such a document name and do a Lookup search by Name for the associated document. In that way I can associate a document that holds a picture and provenance information about my 1790’s chest on chest. (I paid $800 for that piece in 1969; current auction prices are trending towards 2 orders of magnitude appreciation.)

There are OSX apps that do a perfectly adequate job of tables. Pagehand, Nissus Writer, or even (free) Kompozer, for example. It has been years, literally, since Apple’s RTF table handling problems were known.

I cannot even insert a row into the middle of a DTP table. Does DT really not recognize how jarring it is on user productivity to hit the wall on stuff like that?

When I create a new sheet in 3 column view, I see the sheet with not a single tool icon in sight. right-click in the only active-looking part of a blank sheet does nothing.

There is no way (that I could discover after spending way too much time already looking around) to see all the text in a cell.

As I said: what I am finding in UI and usability is quite bad.

Maybe I’m not understanding your issue:

“When I create a new sheet in 3 column view, I see the sheet with not a single tool icon in sight.”

You must first customize the toolbar and place the icons you want there. They don’t just pop up automatically. Customizing toolbars in DT is the same as in most other apps.

This debate was a bit hot, but I have the same issue, 10 years later. I want to add a table to a “formated note”, but cannot activate the format/table menu within DTP 3. When I open the same document in TextEdit, the command Format>Table does open a menu with table parameters. If I add one and save, the table is saved, but not easily edited in DTP (appears tiny on the sheet and I didn’t manage to open it after.

But if I create a RTF note, a richer menu appears magically, with among other choice a table icon. And I can easily create an editable table. So it seems to be a matter of choosing the right format for the notes you create. What a “formatted note” is could be better indicated. It seems to be in HTML format (is it), but this is not clear.

Yes, a formatted note is an editable HTML file that also retains the state of form elements, e.g., checkboxes.