It's *absurd* that TAB key doesn't work right in edit window

Some of the oversights in the DevonNote/DevonThink editor are astounding.
It’s like the developers never even looked around at the basics and the state-of-the-art or expected use of editors.

The TAB key should insert a tab first, and then maybe provide option keys to do unusual or unexpected things with the tab key. Not the other way around. Extremely frustrating.

Also ^] and ^[ to indent and un-indent text are extremely common and expected. Much harder to edit without them.

When I see these industry-bucking user-unfriendly developer-idiosyncratic assumptions, along with the horribly anti-best-practice of letting users delete things or move them to the trash without an option key or warning, I assume the developers are either naive or too arrogant to figure out what reasonable/safe/common/expected practices are for developing GUIs and editors.

I’ve used dozens in my career, and in some ways Devonthink is the worst.

Check out some more professional products and improve it, please!

These forums are an open place, even to vent, but it’s more helpful to state that you are just venting. Otherwise, do you really think your tone and approach on this is helpful?

Imagine that I came to your workplace and spoke to you about you and your work in a similar manner. We are very open to honest and constructive criticism but please be respectful of the hard work (and hard choices) involved in what we do (as we would of you). Thanks.

DEVONtechnologies didn’t create the text editing code for rich and plain text documents. Apple did.

I’m puzzled by your comment that the Tab key doesn’t insert a tab when editing a plain or rich text document. It does here, in DEVONthink and in DEVONnote. Editing text documents in DEVONthink behaves essentially like editing such documents in TextEdit using wrap to window. In the case of rich text documents hyperlinks, images, lists and tables can be added.

However, the Tab key in conjunction with other keys has other functions when not in edit mode, such as to shift focus, e.g., among elements of the Three Panes view. That’s not bad or inconsistent UI.

DEVONthink has been available since 2002, and the developers have often responded to user requests for features. In a previous version a warning was given when Delete was invoked on an item. Power users objected to the “nanny” warning. DEVONthink then provided a failsafe for deletion without warning (including UnDo if selected immediately). Instead of being sent to the System Trash, deleted items are sent to a database Trash and remain there until the user invokes a command to empty the database Trashes. Note that items in a database Trash remain searchable until flushed to the System Trash and can be refiled if desired.

In the case of Indexed items, when the database Trash is emptied the user will be given a choice to remove only the database records, or to also remove the originals of the items in the Finder.

Every couple of years users have again raised the issue of warnings when items are deleted, protesting them if they are present, or asking for them if they are not displayed.

As it happens, the next maintenance release of DEVONthink will display a confirmation request when Delete is invoked. For power users who don’t like that, a checkbox is provided to prevent future display of the message. :slight_smile:

A comment about the UI problems of warning or confirmation messages. They often turn out not to protect well against inadvertent, accidental, or “What was I thinking?” actions, because users become accustomed to automatically clicking on the button to confirm the action. That’s why DEVONthink added database Trashes, where the documents remain searchable, viewable and recoverable, as more protective in the long run.

Being a big fan of keyboard shortcuts, I’d like to use an editor that performs these actions with the keystrokes you mention. I cannot get them going in TextEdit, or Bean, or Nisus, or Tinderbox, or Texts, or Word, or Pages, or MultiMarkdown Composer, or MacJournal, or Evernote, or … well, nothing I have that edits rich text responds to those strokes. :cry: Help!

I don’t know. I expect a large company that fills a certain niche or is a big player in a space to observe certain minimal conventions, and not because I am personally the most conventional person in the world. But my company is hard on me and I’m hard on myself about public-facing technologies, and in my mind the tab behavior hit me at a particularly inopportune time, so it was a combination of venting, and saying ‘you should know better!’ and fix it. Was it helpful? I don’t know.

And I hope your hard choices result in a solid reliable product that a power user who pays good money for it can use in a reasonably optimal reasonably expected way. But I, as a software engineer myself understand, this is a very tough business and it is very hard to get software just right and there are sometimes conflicting objectives or demands and time/money/perfection-goal tradeoffs.

But to hit tab when I’m editing a document and have the cursor refuse to insert the tab, have the cursor fly into another window where if I hit the delete key a document silently disappears just seemed to be a negligent design almost to the point of arrogance.

However, another reply to my post mentions that tab insert works, and I just noticed, I created a new document and tab works properly in that document, so far. So there appears to be some kind of modal thing, or an intermittent bug in the product. And, note, I’m a lot more tolerant of that as a bug than as a design choice, particularly if the company would sincerely like to reproduce the problem, if possible, and fix it, because IMO basic functionality like that is serious. And I’m somewhat familiar with Cocoa but not that in depth with NSText… classes. Seems like there should be a way to make tab insert a tab when editing, consistently.

If I offended anyone too much with my venting/raving/begging for fixes, I’m sorry. My real goal is to see an overall nice product with few peers be as solid and optimal as possible, not to piss people off.

Shortcuts to block indent, un-indent are too important to omit, and power users and code developers depend on them, and good editors support the functionality and the shortcuts.

One last reply, I apologize for venting to the degree I did on the forum about the product. I could have stuck more to the facts and issues and stayed more constructive about it.

At the moment I assumed the tab misbehavior for a particular document I was editing was due to a bad design foisted by some arrogant engineer who would stubbornly try to defend the unjustifiable design. I’ve seen that happen enough in various forums, that I became hyperbolically preemptive and it was probably misdirected.

Due to what I now believe is an intermittent bug or mode in the product, rather than a design flaw, I had a very difficult time formatting and editing a document I was trying to get done in a hurry for work, and because there are no block indent/unindent short cut keys, I was forced to try tab, which itself was not working, properly but flying into different window panes, and I was really seeing red. Very frustrating.

But I’m sorry about the venting, the harsh words and thank Devon folks for being mature, polite, reasonable, responsible, clear, and open to feedback and not overly censoring. Big kudos for that!

A few powertips that can ease working with document editing in DEVONthink:

  1. The “open in external editor or viewer” toolbar icon on any toolbar will in one-click open the selected document in whatever app is defined as the default for “Open With…” for that document kind on your system. Here is the icon:

  1. DEVONthink automatically assigns the shift-command-O (that’s “oh”) keyboard shortcut to Data > Open With > [default editor or viewer] – which opens the same app mentioned in (1) above

These are a couple of ways to quickly get a document out of DEVONthink’s very basic document editor into something more suited or configured to your individual styles and methods.

The focus of DEVONthink development is not to write a new word processor, but a document database environment that helps the user to collect, organize and use information resources that may come from a large variety of filetypes.

Whenever possible, DEVONthink uses the resources available in OS X, including text editing, WebKit and PDFKit, as well as the Spotlight plugins for a wide variety of proprietary filetypes to allow indexing and display of their textual content.

Files captured into DEVONthink remain in their native filetypes, and may be opened under their native application (or another app capable of opening/editing a filetype). This allows the user to integrate the information content of individual documents of varying filetypes, while retaining the freedom to also work on those documents under external applications, such as editing a Word or Excel document under its creator application, or to use any text editor of their choice.

I find Apple’s rich text editor used in DEVONthink quite satisfactory for making notes and drafts. It has limitations, so doesn’t do headers, footers, footnotes, end notes and so on that I will likely need for a final written product. For final polishing I’ll transfer it to a more capable word processor/layout application. Most of the time I’ll do that in Pages, as it’s reasonably powerful and will allow export to other filetypes such as Word or PDF. I like the fact that any graphics included in a rich text document can be cut/pasted into Pages in one step (which isn’t possible with Word).

As rich and plain text documents in DEVONthink are window-wrapped rather than page-wrapped and do not include headers or footers, they won’t look good if a printout is desired. For a quick printout I’ll often use Bean.

So DEVONthink doesn’t “do” all the text editing features (including keyboard shortcuts) available in any number of plain and rich text editors available on the Mac, including markup languages. I’m not aware of any plans by DEVONtechnologies developers to write a DEVONthink/DEVONnote proprietary text processor, or to significantly modify Apple’s text editing features. But in fact users do use a variety of text editors on their DEVONthink documents, including markup of plain text. Choice is good.

Thanks! I haven’t been using it, but I sure will now! Great tip.

Can’t you just subclass and add a few features like block indent? It just seems that there’s some low-hanging fruit there with high-bang for buck like that. I understand you’re not trying to be Word, but my word, a few things to help coders who are taking notes would extend the realm of usefulness for the workplace a lot for engineers.

I don’t appreciate reflectivists’ tone but I would appreciate a block indent function (although I don’t think it is that important—DEVONtechnologies’ WordService does this well enough for my purposes and also works in other editors that do not have a block indent function). However, I would certainly not appreciate ^] and ^[ as shortcuts for this function, OS X editors tend to use cmd-] and cmd-[.