Keeping up with readings using DT(3) and DTTG

(I don’t see another read about this topic, but feel free to merge/redirect me if I missed it.)

Right now, my workflow consists of a variety of reading items in different inboxes with different inputs in a variety of places. Trying to track what goes where and what to deal with when is just frustrating. I have a variety of services that work relatively well together, but I see cracks in the system, and I’m worried about the day that those cracks cause real problems.

Ergo, I am itching to get everything I read into DT as the first place items go and the last place they stay. DT3’s Smart Rules and Reading List—on top of everything already in DT tools, like built-in RSS feeds—have inspired this new direction.

That said, I have a few issues I’ve been stuck on:

  1. Using the DT3 Reading List on DTTG. Is there any easy way to view Reading List items on DTTG (yet)? If not, I imagine I can emulate this functionality for now by using a tag and smart rule that adds items with that proxy tag to the reading list. Then I should be able to view items with the proxy tag on DTTG.

  2. Excerpted RSS feeds. What are the best ways to deal with excerpted RSS feeds? I can’t seem to find an easy way to automate any aspects of getting a clean capture of a test case (a journal article; it seems like I have to manually download the article PDF and get that in DT). Do folks dealing with these feeds simply manually capture items each time, or do you have different approaches for different feeds, or what?

  3. How to decide between webarchive and PDF files. I seem to switch between these formats at random. PDF has one major advantage in that other people generally recognize the format and are comfortable with it. Webarchive seems to be cleaner and more authentic for html-based items, but you can’t highlight webarchive files on DTTG as far as I can tell.

  4. Refreshing RSS feeds. Is it still true that RSS feeds can’t refresh on DTTG?

Of course, I’m open to other insights, good-to-knows, and workflows on this! Thanks!

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This is planned for a future release of DEVONthink To Go.

You could either try to use a different format (see Info inspector) for certain formats or convert them via smart rules.

In the long run I wouldn’t recommend a file format like web archives which is not supported on other platforms and quite often not even compatible to older systems, e.g. web archives created on macOS 10.14.x might or might not work on older releases.

That’s still true.

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@ryanjamurphy

Do folks dealing with these feeds simply manually capture items each time

I would suggest this as a normal course of action anyways. RSS articles are tiny and little snippets of information. And just like any news source, not everything is worth capturing. I personally see no sense in capturing heavy formats like webarchives or PDFs of articles with little to no actual value, filling the database with cruft.

Just my two pence :slight_smile:

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Except in the case of academic literature, RSS feeds can provide information in a very structured and predictable format worth archiving.

I think there is more than a small number of DT3 users who use the software for collecting and searching academic references in various fields.

By the way a separate discussion we had - a feature you indicated is possibly under consideration - would also be of considerable value in curating academic information such as in RSS feeds (see Can Metadata Overview Match Selected Fields Layout ). I think academic users are likely a non-trivial part of your user base.

I think academic users are likely a non-trivial part of your user base.

I don’t think of any segment of our user base as trivial or non-trivial :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

And you’d be surprised at the breadth of users we have. People have this very wrong notion it’s mostly for academics or business people. I’ve seen 100MB databases from homemakers and 300GB databases from archivists. I’ve also seen everything in between.

Remember, we aren’t making software for one segment over another. The broader a suggested feature, the more likely it is to get traction. Also DEVONthink has so much flexibility built in, there are things people could implement on their own too.

I agree. I guess I mean semi-automatic. It takes me eight or ten steps to get a proper version of the article I pointed to above. I’m hoping for ways to cut those steps down to one per interesting reading.

If you followed Criss’ instructions re: the Info inspector, it would yield a document in one step - an automatic one.

Thanks for these answers.

I’ll have to play with the Info inspector options. (cc @BLUEFROG). I know how to use Smart Rules to move or convert news items as they come in, but the trick is that these academic journal RSS items are often restricted in some way or other. The actual article is often behind a paywall, for instance. I’m sure I can figure out a simpler way to get these quickly (Keyboard Maestro macros, probably). I was just wondering if there’s any best practices for dealing with truncated feeds.

After a day of testing, though, I’m afraid RSS seems to be struggling for me even on DT3. An OPML import from my previous feed reader looked like it worked just fine, but it has only yielded a handful of items—whereas hundreds have come in on my previous reader.

I then manually set up a test feed using The Verge’s all articles feed. That was a few hours ago, and DT3 still hasn’t pulled anything in, but a variety of items have shown up in the previous reader.

What might I be doing wrong?

Could you send a copy of the OPML file to cgrunenberg - at - devon-technologies.com? Thanks.

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I resolved these issues—I had caused the problem myself!

Can you elaborate on this?

Sure, but I’d bet it was a unique case…

I follow sites (e.g., tech news) on RSS that I hard-block using my hosts file. Before I did this I tended to check these sites as a distraction, even when there were no new articles. RSS helps me to know there’re no new articles, but the block was an extra barrier to prevent this habit.

My previous RSS reader downloads content to its own server, and then delivers that content to me via its that server. Since DT3 is local, it downloads content from feeds directly. So when DT3 tried to download feeds of these blocked sites, nothing could get through. It seemed weird to me because other feeds worked and there was nothing wrong with other feeds in DT3, but I only accidentally happened upon the diagnosis and solution. Now it’s obvious in hindsight.

This makes sense. DEVONthink’s default HTML-generated RSS items are also beautiful.

One issue, though: when I clip those items elsewhere, I can’t use HTML as the format—only webarchive or several others. Is that intentional? It’d be nice to be able to clip these items in this better format!

(I assume I can accomplish the same thing by moving the actual news item, but Share→Clip to seems more appropriate for some reason.)

One option would be to use the Action menu to convert to HTML…

Ah, sorry, I meant on iOS. That is handy though. I suppose I could tag things for Smart Rule conversion that way, or something. Still, it’d be nice to be able to Clip to DEVONthink and create nice HTML files on DTTG. Not a major priority, though.

Interesting behavior, btw: if I select several RSS HTML items and hit Share → Clip to DEVONthink, it resaves those identical HTML files to wherever I say. But if I only have one file, there’s no way to save the HTML files.

An RSS-related feature request (might as well keep it here): it’d be wonderful to have finer-grained controls over the auto-delete feature. I know I can lock individual feeds to prevent deletion, but some feeds I want deleted every day, others I’d rather keep for longer, and others I’d want to get rid of in six hours.

Hmm. I’m learning more about RSS in DEVONthink and I have a new question. TL;DR: is there a way to get PDF versions of news items using the default.css feed stylesheet?

As discussed above, RSS items saved as HTML files using DEVONthink’s built-in default.css stylesheet look great. However, they’re not very useful on DTTG—in particular, there’s no way to highlight or annotate the file except by capturing text out of it. (Aside, an oddity: highlighting also isn’t available to news items on DT3, but if I duplicate a news item, it becomes available.)

So I’d like to work with PDFs. Obviously, I can change the settings in the RSS Preferences pane to download articles by PDF at the outset. (Note: one-page PDFs tend to work best! Pagination doesn’t seem to generate high-quality outputs for the feeds I’m following—the page breaks aren’t well-laid out.) This PDF output is okay, but it isn’t nearly as nice as the HTML version. The margins are, well, marginal. Images tend to be huge. Spacing also looks odd to me.

However, I can’t seem to find a way to take advantage of the nice HTML version in PDF format. Convert → PDF turns HTML items into PDFs, sure, but it looks like it drops all styles and prints a plaintext version to PDF. Capture → PDF works perfectly, but can’t be done via a Smart Rule.

Any ideas? I’m interested in alternatives, too, outside of the question I started out with. My aim is to get RSS items that’re nicely readable and that I can highlight on DTTG.

The pagination is defined by the website and its CSS and handled by the WebKit, the result should be more or less identical to printing a PDF in browser.

This should convert the HTML file to PDF, not the original website, and use the current stylesheet of Preferences > RSS therefore. If that’s not the case - could you please send an HTML file plus a screenshot of Preferences > RSS to cgrunenberg - at - devon-technologies.com? Thanks.

You could enable the clutter-free layout in Preferences > RSS. Another possibility is to use smart rules to convert the HTML file to PDF.

Of course! Sorry, didn’t mean to pin this on DT—I just meant that in general it’s not usually an aesthetically pleasing result, even with clutter-free.

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