Linking rather than importing Address Book, Mail, etc.

One of the greatly under-appreciated implications of the way Apple has designed Spotlight searching for application-specific items (such as emails, address book and calendar entries, etc.) is that they have introduced individual files which, when opened, link directly to the individual searchable items.

This opens the door for much better-integrated system-wide URLs. Just by playing some very simple tricks with file:/// URLs pointing to these special Spotlight dummy files corresponding to individual searchable items it’s quite straightforward to create URLs from anywhere to any individual item in Mail, Address Book, iCal, etc. (as well as any 3rd-party application that chooses to expose individual items to Spotlight).

It seems to me that DEVONthink is an ideal context in which to make use of this sort of linking. Why would I possibly want to import and fully duplicate all my Address Book entries in a lesser UI just so that I can link to them from DEVONthink notes if those same links could in fact jump to the original entries right in Address Book, itself. Of course, the database table functionality exposed by sheets is potentially powerful in its own right, but shouldn’t at least the URLs of imported Address Book entries, for example, be made to point to the Spotlight dummy files, enabling them to quickly open the original entries right inside Address Book?

There is, of course, similar power for linking Mail messages, etc. Automatic wiki linking could get a lot more powerful really quickly, if only it pointed to items in their original habbitat, rather than requiring users to import them all into the same lowest-common-denominator interface of DEVONthink (not that DT isn’t great at what it does, it’s just not as good at handling addresses as Address Book, etc.), making an unnecessarily separated copy of the original item.

And if DEVONthink exposes its individual notes and items to Spotlight in the same way (which I should hope it would in due time), the same power can be used in the other direction, enabling URLs anywhere else to point right to individual items in DEVONthink.

Taking the wiki-linking idea to its logical extreme, imagine if DEVONthink could also be made to use the Address Book database and various other applications’ Apple Event APIs to tag linked external items with backlinks to the given DEVONthink note (in the Address card’s Notes field, for example).


Interesting topic, jrk. You’ve rekindled some of my recent private brainstorming about it. Time’s short so just a few brief comments:

I’ve wondered if the proxy files Spotlight uses for Address Book, will be a permanent part of the technology or just an interim hack.

While there are definite advantages I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll like DEVONthink using separate files for every database entry, which is apparently the plan for a future (2.0?) release. Makes me wonder if I’ll have to deal with traditional file/folder issues that I’ve enjoyed avoiding with DT until now.

Have you seen LinkBack? Would that be worthwhile for DT to support?

Back again later …

I’ve been concerned about this too. I’m not sure it is necessarily a good idea either and I’ve not had time to think through all the ramifications, especially with regard to how I’m using DT. There are lots of things, little notes, sections of documents I’m assembling, etc., that I’m putting into/developing in DT that, frankly, I don’t want to have existing as separate files on my drive and cluttering it up further.


Of the programs that I have checked both VoodooPad and Omni Outliner have the options to create links to the original Address Book database. I think this would be a great addition to DT Pro, at least as an option. It doesn’t seem to be such a hard thing to program either. I really liked the way that VoodooPad does it, it is just like a wiki link, you type the name of a person on your Address book and it creates an link to that person on your Address Book.

Please, consider as a possible future option :bulb:

Is there any chance of a full on sync between address book and DT? I don’t mean just import/export but an on demand and an automated sync so that all changes are coordinated between the two apps. This would go a long way towards making DT a full on CRM utility along the lines of Daylite. Please?

I am fully in favor of linking files. DEVON might even (optionally) replicate it’s interface folder structure in the finder.

And linking to AB, Mail and iCal would be the best. Even better would be linking back, but I suspect that could create a mess in Apple’s apps.

Ideally for me would be a Contact group that read AB’s data and added associated fields; DT items that could be added to iCal as appts, events or To Dos (again with added associated fields); and Mail links that could be assigned to tasks and/or response dates

Yes, I would like DT to act as a project manager, with links to Apple’s apps. I agree it would be futile (never mind cumbersome) to duplicate that data in DT, but links and supplements would be great.

Someone is going to do it eventually; DT has the best base for making it happen. They could wipe out StickyBrain and SOHO-O
in one swipe.

Just a thought; I wonder if instead of imbedding a file into DT, it would be able to imbed a finder alias, allowing the finder to keep track of the original.

Also, I’d like to see a way to archive old “stuff”; have it out of sight but accessible enough so that if needed if could be quickly accessed.

Can I take advantage of this discussion thread to ask a question? Or, perhaps, to verify my understanding of what I’m reading here? (I wouldn’t mind if you suggested I take this to some other part of the forum…)

I logged onto the forum tonight to see if I could find out whether DT could index files by following their aliases. My impression from the discussion here is that, at present, that capability does not exist.

Here’s my situation: I have a ton of PDF files, readable (either as readable files to start with, or via OCR), and I keep them in folders organized by author lastname. That is, the author’s lastname is always the first part of the filename, in my usage.

What I would like to do, then, is place aliases to those files in other entirely different folders, organized by research topic: in my case these are East Asian Buddhism, Chinese Chan/Zen, Southeast Asian Buddhism, etc. THEN I would like to index the topic-oriented folders, leaving the original documents unchanged/unmoved, and keeping the DT database size down.

Note that when I said “a ton of PDF files,” my current Sources folder is 38.68GB. I don’t need to put all of that into DT databases, but we’re talking multiple gigabytes, anyway. So, keeping things neat and tidy would be an advantage! :slight_smile:

So, here’s the question: Can DT index files externally by following aliases?