I just posted this as a response under DTTG, but realize that it probably belongs here. The question at hand is how to bring the wonderful world of handwritten notes in DEVONthink. It is possible that I am behind the curve here, and others have found better solutions. If so, I very much look forward to hearing about them. Here is the post:
I’m not sure where this issue is at the moment, and since I’m still in the process of building a new information infrastructure for my work (following Evernote’s decision a while ago to drop scripting support) I can’t swear as to how well it will work out. But with those caveats aside…
I use Notability for taking handwritten notes. Notability has a feature that allows you to automatically back up PDFs of the latest copy of all of your notes to DropBox. The new copy of a note overwrites the previous copy. So if you index that folder into DEVONthink you automatically have PDFs of all of your handwritten notes.
Again, I am not certain how well this is going to work in practice, but the tests I’ve run so far work well. There are some things that I’ve not played with:
- How does OCR work in this case? Is it lost when notes upgrade? My guess is, “of course it is,” but perhaps you can tell me what to expect.
- I am assuming that as long as the name of the DropBox folder is the same on all machines that notes will be indexed and accessible for every machine sharing that database. I have not played with indexing in DTTG, but anticipate it will fail there. Although past handwritten notes can easily be imported rather than just indexed.
Another solution would be to index the .note files themselves. Since Notability has a desktop app, that would be beautiful. The .note files are stored on iCloud Drive. There are two problems, however. The first is that you can access the relevant folder by going to System Preferences → iCloud → Manage Storage → Notability → Open in Finder. When you do so the folder opens and claims to live under iCloud Drive. But when you look at iCloud Drive, no Notability folder appears, even as a hidden file. Hard to index that.
The other problem is that while Notability is perfectly happy to read in one of those files as a NEW note, what it will not do is simply open the existing note in the app. Notability desperately needs a custom URL scheme, preferably with deep linking.
As much as I hate to say it, I may have to start using OneNote instead of Notability. (Argh). OneNote DOES support deep linking, and these links can be accessed and opened locally from inside DEVONthink:
- Inside OneNote, copy a note or paragraph within a note as a link.
- The link that you get will be to the web location of the note. When linking from DEVONthink (or any other app), preface the web URL with onenote:// (i.e., enter the URL as onenote://https://onedrive.live.com/view… )
- When you open the link, specify “Open link in MicroSoft Onenote”.
Bingo. You have the current version of the deep linked location in the note sitting in front of you in OneNote, ready to go. All of the above can of course be easily automated.
I truly loathe the idea of moving my note taking to OneNote for a number of reasons. Apart from the fact that it is MicroSoft, they have made the kind of absurd decision not to support OCR on the Mac version. On the other hand, if I need OCR I can always save it as a PDF and do the OCR there. I’m wondering if there might also be a way to use the Macs native OCR capability to grab images in OneNote, do the OCR, and write it out.
Another huge problem with OneNote is that it does a poor job importing PDFs for markup.
But while I would prefer not to use OneNote, I absolutely cannot live without being able to access research materials and notes with URLs. I’m trying to make myself believe that accessing Notability’s PDFs will do the trick, but I may not succeed. I may wind up going with Notability for marking up PDFs, but using OneNote for just handwritten notes. Ugly…
My world would be WILDLY better if LiquidText had a custom deep linking URL scheme.
Relevant to all of this, I wonder if people have seen the Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking that appeared recently, spearheaded by Angel Vu (PDFpen) together with a note of names from a bunch of different companies and universities.