Killer (?) feature request

(Cross posted with the DTP beta testing forum)

I have been trying to use DTPro for academic writing/research while keeping in mind what I need the app to do as well as what it can do.

For me, there is a gap in every application I’ve used though Ulysses comes closest in some areas and DTP in others.

Imagine the three pane view with a drawer that slides out either side of the browser.
In that drawer would be a notes pane that could hold text and images related to content in the main viewing pane and those notes would be automatically linked to the main document.

I think all of the necessary under-the-hood stuff is present.
The note would be a physical rtf automatically created (via an applescript?) in a notes group, at the root level of the current group, when the notes pane was opened. All notes would be linked to the document in the main window when they were created.

What is needed from the DT folks is an integrated viewer to keep the notes content integrated with each respective document.

If it were possible to view a pdf/html/text/image in one panel or side of a screen and a text or rtf document in a pop–out panel or drawer we could use the rtf/text doc for notes, comments etc related to the main pdf/html/text/image.

Something like this has been an oft requested feature.

In short, DTP needs (IMO) another view panel so that we can view a main documents of interest and, for example, a text doc for notes, links, urls etc (there’s our metadata - much better than comments) or perhaps an image from a larger pdf.
The split view would be available from within a group or subgroup of course.

It would be VERY helpful for capturing notes related to any content and it wouldn’t be limited to the tiny comments field.
Mere linking isn’t adequate and the integration would help with presentation and focus, IMHO.

Also, have you thought about integrating spit views? Split screen views are possible and in use in several apps.
Check out this free and improved resource for programmers:

Thanks and keep up the great work! :slight_smile:

1 Like

I agree 100%. An easy, integrated way of making notes to the content in a note is really essential. Another drawer would be a great improvement (CopyWrite has it, but is otherwise not a serious competitor to DTP); even greater if one could collect comments from several documents into one new document when needed.
Say, I have split up citations from a book in several documents inside a group. I also have replicates of (some of) these docuuments in groups for different keywords. I’d like to be able to make comments to any of the documents, and then also view all comments for documents within any of these groups (the groups for the book, and the group for the keyword).


Hi milhouse,

for me this would not do it. Actually, I’d also want to be able to annotate my writings, but a simple notes-drawer lacks the possibility of linking the note to a specific passage in the main text. For that reason I use links and over the time I became quite used to this way of working. However, the most convinient way of annotating a text would be the way Adobe Acrobat does it, that is by means of stickies. These can be also deflated to a little yellow box so they don’t get in your way while reading. OTOH, this would be quite a non-standard and proprietary way of storing information, unless the whole text-engine would be XML based (or a similar human-readable and extendable markup). Anyways, I’d rather refrain from your request of another info-drawer and rather propose a more flexible text-engine which allows also for the convenient storage of annotative information within a database-entry.


Hi dr_tone,
you find all that in HBN. (
A small description how it works and a screenshot of my 3 panel structure - german sorry, cant rewrite that beast in english;( … column.png

in the threat “Multi-level outlining” (sorry dont know how to make a link in phbBB - prefere lists - youll find a more detailed explication. shortly: DTp ist the better archiving tool HBN the better writing tool. Together they are nearly unbeatable;)


thanks for your recommendation. I am afraid HBN is still not what I meant. I was thinking of inserting annotative information at any place in a document which then would be presented like a sticky but could also be shrunken to a little symbol (eg., at double clicking it). Still it should be human readable and searchable, even from outside DT, eg. from an external ascii-editor or spotlight etc. Therefore, I have proposed an understandable markup (like XML), that would be accordingly represented by DT. For instance. inside a “sticky-environment” everything would be in-&deflatable and an according symbol is displayed alongside within the main text. I would much prefer such kind of handling for associative/annotative information over an additional data pane with its according documents. Simply write away, mark the text and make it a sticky at a key stroke. Or add an empty sticky with the same key stroke and put everything you like inside. Internally, however, I believe this to be quite a change in the way, DT stores and presents data. It could nonetheless be enormously useful, even for the AI engine, because it opens a natural way of adding metadata to any document. So, I just took the liberty of taking the initial request/suggestion a bit further, maybe thereby changing its initial meaning grossly… :blush:

Lots of comments and visions!

The ability to add custom metadata to documents is planned for version 2.

Funny you should mention this. I was thinking about other apps that might suit my needs and I played around with Acrobat Pro’s annotation last night.

I too would, ideally, like to annotate specific parts of a document (I thought that feature would be more difficult to implement in DT however).
Having notes “attached” to the referent document section is the reason we annotate (this is how we do it with pen and paper afterall. :slight_smile: ).

I do like Acrobat’s functionality and the ability to summarize all comments. The application seems clunky and is surprisingly “sluggish” (I’m on a DP 1.8 G5 w/3GB RAM) and is not quite “intuitive” though -IMHO at least.

With regard to metadata, I would prefer to have my comments in a single file rather than in “stickies” (actually, both options would be best. That way I don’t have to review the entire document for ideas, just my notes, if I choose. Either way, it’s actually only a matter of choosing how to view them, yes?

For the present:

Has anyone found a way to connect multiple links in one document to specific sections of another document (i.e. use a separate document to hold all related notes sort of like a chapter endnote page?).

I don’t think linking works that way but some sort of html style hyperlinking might work.

Bill, is there a “mouse click” (i.e. very quick) method to create a hyperlink between documents so that we could implement a single notes or comments page?

If you open the Information panel (Tools: Show Info) and leave it open, you have a third-pane effect for every item that you select. The panel has the item name, alias, URL, attached script, and a huge comment field.

Perhaps a Preference that allowed users to “Show Information in Drawer” would help those who want to display annotation. Other features to come might be links between item parts and notes, and a merge-print command or script that created foot or endnotes.


Maybe I did´nt understand very well what you meant, but , what is any place of the document?
If you have, let me say 190 notes, in one text-document?
if you look at the screenshot than you can see exactly that way of annotation: in the left panel the whole structure, in the middle: on the top, the text file, and above all his annotatoions/stickies related to it. On double click you can open/shrunk it like a note. The big advantage of that is, that I can organise them very easy in HBN in an outliner structure to up to x levels. Hundred and more without loosing the overwiev. And, manipulate them is extremly easy in HBN. DTp has a long way to that easy of use.
I have never seen any other stickie-tool, extension etc… where I havnt lost the overview with 50 notes/stickies (as symbols) at least. If you know one, pls tell me. I m interested in that.
The only tool I know is Inspiration which has such notes, but thats another animal not a db…

If its searchable and readable? I think it is because it uses the simple Textedit-format. Metadata and XML… I dont know. Have a look at the HBN list for the next release.

Imho until DTp has at least a 10/100 or more times undo feature, I know from Christian that this is difficult to realize, it is not a writers/writing tool. Its a great db.
my 2 cents


DT has tremendous potential and functionality. As a result, some elegance is lost. It is not an ideal writers tool but it could be.

I envision (just my personal vision… :wink: ) an app that allows you to select a function and then only features/functionality specific to that function are available.
For example, one function might be a scrapbook, another might be data visualization, another might be writing etc. each function would have its own set of pre-configured menus etc. Of course, the default could be the whole enchilada - DTPro - that displays all functionality at one time.

Heck, why not allow the user to choose which features they want “visible” in their “customized” app? :wink: :slight_smile:

IMO, the future is in niche functionality (as in most consumer goods). The ability to eliminate unneeded functionality and focus on what’s necessary would go a long way towards usability.

One central problem is that bloat often accompanies that model.

I appreciate everyone’s input.

milhouse, I definitely would not like to see DT go down the route you are suggesting. It is suspiciously like the feature bloat that afflicts MS Word etc. I like the streamlined, trim aspect that DT has and trying to make it an all singing and dancing application in MHO would be a mistake. Also what is the difference between a modal application like you describe and using several different applications? For one thing using separate applications means that each can do it’s own job really well whereas if one application does it’s all there will inevitably be areas that it doesn’t handle very well. Also you can only operate one mode at a time whereas with multiple apps. one app. could be importing a large number of items while you work in another (just to give one example). You say

yet your proposals seem to be the direct opposite of this since a database, data storage, writing, visualisation, scrapbook etc tool is clearly not a niche application. Sounds suspiciously like MS Word to me .

Yes and no. All things being equal, Word is a single app built around a single (supposedly) function, namely “writing”.

Further, I think most would agree that Word is a poor example for what [b]our[/b] ideal writing app might look like.
It is not designed to “hide” unnecessary functionality and streamline the user experience by eliminating unnecessary clutter from a desired task. It is, IMO, a bloated poster child for how "to implement something half-way.

DT is already a composite of functions. Some it does exceedingly well and others could use functional and usability improvement (no offense to our very hard working devs :slight_smile: ).

Because it already has lots of functionality (“scrapbooking”, organizing, analysis, writing etc) we are talking about building on the established base.

End user input is very important. If the market doesn’t want additional features, then they shouldn’t be added.
On the other hand, if the broad user base asks for certain functions, they should be considered (it seems that DT takes our input seriously, they are a great bunch).

With regard to our pseudo-hypothetical monolithic app, the advantage of having one application is that the same data is in the same place, available to all “functions”.

The strength of DTP is in its abilities as a database and its “AI” functionality.
If we need to use several different apps, I suppose we can simply maintain our data outside of DT, link to originals and use the finder as a supplement.
The problem is that if the data is moved, I don’t know if DT maintains the link (can someone answer this question?) and if we lose an advantage over having the data reside in DT.

As for niche’s go, it’s the appearance or end user experience as a niche app that’s important. On the flip-side, as I mentioned, yes bloat can be a problem.

Perhaps something like linkback technology is a means to integrate documents without integrating function into a single app.


Is linkback technology being considered for DT?




Would it be possible to consider having the ability to choose which external application to use to open a given file as a contextual menu.
The “open with” data is already available from the OS.

Hi Wolfgang,

I am afraid, we have a different way of writing, annotating and commenting. I for one always have a main document, that I keep working on. Sometimes, while correcting, an idea crosses my mind, that I consider to be worth writing down and exactly at that time, the described sticky-function would come handy. As of now, I am simply adding a new linked document and write in there, which is not so nice because the annotative content becomes stored in another document. This confuses the “natural intelligence” (me) as well as the artificial intelligence. But basically notes and comments are a minor part of my work, mainly I am trying to keep everything in the main document. Seemingly, the opposite is true for your way of working. You have hundreds of notes (wheras I have at most 20-30) and you kind of patchwork your final document from them. In this case, your way of organizing all the bits and snippets makes perfectly sense. The difference is, wheras I believe your notes to be the building blocks of your work, my notes are just some thoughts/questions added to the main context. I hope, this has answered your question “what is any place in the document?”.

As to the undo-problem: I shure like the ability to undo. Actually I write mostly using an external editor (alpha or bbedit) because they have syntax coloring and deep undo capabilities (I think, they track every keystroke). I keep those documents linked to DTPro and update them frequently. Notes and annotations are created and kept within DT. However, when it comes to delete a paragraph or even a sentence that I liked, I do never really chuck them away, but throw them into a snippet-repository (thats the actual name of the document), kept within the same group. Therefore, I do not rely so much on a proper undo-function. Another thing is, that I always make a copy of the main document, when I feel that changes become too extensive. This way I can always return to the old version even after days, again without any undoing. I just told this to give you some hints on how to get by even without an undo-function in DT. Nevertheless, I certainly whish it to have one in the future.

Hi dr_tone,
I am afraid, I dont understand your english as well. I think it´s to sophistcated for me.
Anyway, I try to answer to that I understand. Sorry for some errors.
I agree; Everybody has a different way of writing annotating and commenting.
I have the main document too: later on in Mellel, later on after the creativ writing proces. When its time to format. Every tool which does not permit to format is great for creativ writing, because you can concentrate in writing only - nothing more. HBN or Ulysses fits that perfectly. DT nearly, because of that I described before.
I cant see the big diference between your main document and a HBN file, with a main docuemnt, you can split in a lot of separeted notes or a big main document, or both. The search is extremly fast, like in DTp and mostly faster than in a word-processor.

“an idea crosses my mind, that I consider to be worth writing down and exactly >at that time, the described sticky-function would come handy”

Thats exactly what I tried to describe, because HBN - did you ever have a look at it? - is the best for that. It needs nothing more than hit return: Then you have the sticky note. Without searching a button, where to store them, how to find them again and how to organise a lot them? Sorry, but when I m writing I have a lot of ideas in mind, hence I would be lost in space with notes under buttons. more exactly a lot of ideas would be lost. I was searching for the right tool since about 15 years, tried a lot, and found some.

I am trying to keep everything in the main document
Again: where? In a main document with 300 pages and 30 notes, every note under a button?

This confuses the “natural intelligence” (me) as well as the artificial >intelligence.
Sorry, I dont know about that kind of intelligences, what i know is: The creativ intelligence is in the (my) right brain. Therefore I use for developing ideas a Mindmap tool first; a outliner then and an editor or wordprocessor last. Because thats the very, very left brained step. The left brain is where you can find a lot, but no creatv intelligence;) An outliner like HBN or partially DTp is a kind of compromiss. Not so brainfriendly like a Mindmap tool or a real creativity tool - like Curio, but much more than a text editor or Wordprocessor…

If you have a big main document and only 20, 30 notes, I would strongly recommend: have a look at Ulysses. It offers exatly that. (notes beside the main document).

Actually I write mostly using an external editor (alpha or bbedit) because they >have syntax coloring and deep undo capabilities (I think, they track every >keystroke). I keep those documents linked to DTPro and update them frequently. >Notes and annotations are created and kept within DT.
THANKS a lot for that!..:wink:
Its exactly what I m struggling for DTp´s future; that´s where it should go:
the best freeform-database (in background) which supports all your prefered tools for any different jobs, as a frontend tool. I have waited long long for a tool like DTp. But now I “feel” a kind od “streaming” of user requests: DTp should be more. I seriously hope Devontechnologies will not go that way; will not write GUI´s for for anybody and eyerything. DTp should support all of that other tools like: Outliner Editor DTP Word processor- as “Frontends”, like you do work with BBedit. Because a bloated generalist can never be as good as a specialist. See M$ Word. And DTp is not M$ with unlimited ressources.
There was such an idea at the beginning, and I m afraid of the in the enthusiasm now with the final… (The did a great job, really!) But dont forget, we had to wait a very, very long Time for it. Such a long time was often the of a good tool/idea. And a lot of basic features und serious GUI improvements are still not implemented. (Rubber band, undo, support of more databases at the same time, etc… I had this discussion in another threat. Did not describe it like here, but will do it “deeper” in a near future.

I’ve set up my own “3-panes” view, based on Vertical Split and with the Info panel on the right.

The Info panel is set up the same in all my open windows. On my 20" screen, the Comment field is large enough to be convenient for adding a few notes quickly. Obviously, they will be connected to the document in the main view.

Download an image of this setup at:

There will be a better facility for adding notes and metadata in the future, but this works for me now.

Cool, Bill, thanks for the screen shot. I look forward to the “better facility for adding notes” and the like down the road, but this works well for now. I’m finding more and more uses for the comments field, and this set up has definite appeal!


That is already in the pipeline and “Open/Launch With” will be probably added to v1.0.x or v1.1. In addition, a “Show/Hide Comments” command is also planned and will probably open/close a drawer where one can easily enter additional notes without having to use the Info panel. What do you think?

Dear Wolfgang,

please excuse, if I was not clear enough. I really tried to, but seemingly my sophistication is somewhat crappy :frowning:

Yes. After writing the first draft I import it to DT, turn it into a .rtf file and go on within DT, notes being links to other annotative documents. Ofcourse, it is not a 300-page document but mostly articles of 5000-25000words. If I write something bigger, I break the thing into smaller pieces and proceed the same way. I do not however, distinguish between a “creative writing process” and an “executing” phase. I dont really collect and arrange thoughts and chunks prior to writing, but rather while writing. I dont need mindmaps or brainstorming tools, for me writing itself is as creative as it can possibly get. In fact, I am not creative at all. I simply write down what my mind prompts me with. Sometimes, when I am in need of reorganizing paragraphs or parts because they turn out to be clumsily arranged, the good ol’ copy-paste does it for me.

Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll have a look at it.

Sounds like a perfect idea. It could be maybe accomplished using the “linkback technology” that milhouse proposed in this thread.