Integrating Applications with DT

I have an HTML document that I created in BBEdit. I drag it into DT. There are three options available if I want to edit the data:
 double-click: DT Window (appears as it would in a browser)
 open externally: Safari
 launch: BBEdit

I want to work in BBEdit, so I choose launch. I make changes in the file and save them, but the changes are not updated in the DT version of the data.

If I link to the file, I can’t see it in DT, and all three editing options open the file in BBEdit.

If I could launch a DT item, edit it externally, and have the changes updated in the DT display, then DT would become invaluable to me as a place to store documents that change frequently. For example, I could keep key web pages in DT for quick changes in BBEdit without launching Dreamweaver.

It would help to have an OPEN EXTERNALLY WITH and a LAUNCH WITH pair of commands to override the default editors. It would also be nice to have a preference that could specify that all items of a certain type be opened with a particular application.

Because, for example, I edit all of my images in Photoshop. But when I drag a generic jpg into DT, both "edit externally" and "launch" bring up Preview.

The forum includes some requests for additional formatting and editing features within DT. I’m not sure that would be a good idea. I like the simplicity of the interface, and I already own software that’s designed to do editing and formatting. So far, though, they don’t integrate very well with DT.

We receive a lot of very different requests and finding a common set is sometimes quite tricky without sacrificing simplicity at the same time (we don’t want DT to become bloatware). Anyone else interested in the above mentioned features?

Yes, I’m very interested. Like the original poster I edit a lot of files in BBEdit; I also use Mellel, which is right now (IMO) clearly the best word processor on the Mac.

I liked DT enough that I registered, but I’m actually finding it a lot less useful than I’d anticipated for two reasons. The first is that there’s no auto-update/synchronization, which is what gets talked about above. The second is that there aren’t enough file formats supported for viewing from within DT. I have no interest in editing OmniOutliner or Mellel docs in DT, but I would like to see the contents of the file and for the content to be searchable. I imagine this being a very tall order, and anyway it seems to me that creating import filters is a waste of time – DT needs to work on the assumption that I will be editing and revising using other applications, and to allow for that intelligently, which it doesn’t do right now (though it does many things INCREDIBLY intelligently).

Synchronization would go a long way towards fixing lack of import filters, because then I could have a big folder, “To DevonThink,” and export from my apps to compatible PDF, RTF, or HTML, and have DevonThink synchornize and update the file. So that’s part of the solution as I see it – but there need to be other features too to close the importing/editing/updating loop.

Right now, DT works like a glorified clipping app for me: if I see an interesting webpage or PDF document, I will import it. But these are always completed, static files, not works-in-progress, and so DT is never part of my workflow proper.

As I see it, there are three crucial features that are missing:

1: DT needs to watch folders and synchronize when files are updated.

  1. DT needs to allow me to pick which applications are associated with which files when I open them externally.

  2. Most importantly, DT needs to let me keep a file location for ‘open externally’ which is SEPARATE from the file location in the “To DevonThink” folder (i.e., the imported file). If you imagine the workflow, I might create a document in Mellel, then save it to my “Projects/Essays/Yeats” folder in the Finder, if it’s an essay about Yeats. Then, if I want to put it in DT, I might export it to the “To DevonThink” folder. If DT syncs, then it gets imported automatically.

But what if I want to edit the document a year later, after stumbling across it in DevonThink? Then I might want to edit it externally, in which case I’d like to edit the original, not the RTF I exported, because the original has more data. So I’d need DevonThink to know where the ‘originating file’ is located. Obviously, not all imported files need to have ‘originating’ files as well – but some NEED to have them, otherwise I have a pretty incomplete system.

To my mind the biggest problem with the app now is that it doesn’t ‘close the loop’ in this way. Importing items is a one-time, one-way street, when it needs to be a two-way, continuous stream of information for DT to work while I work. The user interface, as it stands now, is much more oriented towards keeping simple, static docs in DT, for instance. I think a more dynamic UI with drawers, flags, labels, and so on would allow this type of organization and functionality without making the app bloatware or overly complicated.

Those are my suggestions on this topic. I am using DT – in fact, I use it a ton – but, unhappily, not really for what I work on. Instead it gets used to store ‘stuff,’ when I want it to store work and to be a real part of what I do, showing me, for instance, other documents in my database which relate to works in progress I’m working on right now, instead of items I’ve finished and will never touch again.

Thanks for the detailed suggestion! Version 1.8 will feature both "Synchronize" and "Open/Launch With" commands.

I think you can set the file’s default app in Finder Get Info Box too.