Migrating from Rack2-Filer Smart to DEVONthink

This is my first post here. My name is Christian Sentis, I am from Germany, 47 years old, married to a Portuguese wive and proud father of 4. Growing up with a C64 and first BASIC experiences in the 80s, I made a career first in database and later full stack development, then switched to IT management.

Recently, I migrated from Windows to macOS. Having been a long-time user of a Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 scanner, I had build up extensive file cabinets in Fujitsu’s (now Ricoh’s) “Rack2-Filer Smart” - and needed to move these structures to macOS. The choice of the target application for my document management was clear: DEVONthink.

Living paperless, but also effortless w/r/t document management is crucial to me. I would not have migrated to macOS if an intuitive and reliable (if need be paid) DMS on macOS would not have been available. DEVONthink made this decision a breeze: on the market since a long time, reliability is a given. The more than jsut good documentation gave me a chance to become convinced of DEVONthink’s intuitiveness even before purchase. Add to that a fantastic support experience (shoutout to @BLUEFROG) and my choice was made.

However, the migration path was not so intuitive. Which is why I wanted to share it here “for the records”: the number of users of Rack2-Filer Smart is comparably small, even smaller those that will want to migrate from Windows to macOS. But still…

Some words on Rack2-Filer Smart

Rack2-Filer came bundled as optional software with some Fujitsu ScanSnaps. Notoriously robust as these scanners are, there are many installations from as far back as 10 years ago (that would be 2014 in the time of this post) - at least mine is. The software was frequently updated in the beginning, where it was introduced as a successor to “Rack2-Filer” (without “Smart”). Whilst compatibility with Microsoft OS updates was either ensured or technically never an issue, there were no updates lately.

The GUI is proprietary and never kept up with OS developments, always remaining a somewhat reliable and still living reminder of oldschool layout and user experience.

Although there was a migration guide from Rack2-Filer to Rack2-Filer Smart, there was never any documentation on migratin away from Fujitsu’s own interpretation of a visual cabinet filer.
(To my knowledge, there is only one, Windows-based, software that allows direct import of Rack2-Filer cabinets: “Office Manager DMS”.)

What is great (for some, including me) about Rack2-Filer Smart is the visual idea how to represent your cabinet files: you open a binder at a page where you want your new scan to go, hit the scan button and it will apear exactly there - just like filing in real life.

What is not so great is the feeling of sitting on a ripe, yet oldening piece of software that does not offer decent (i.e. intuitive and reliable) export functionality. There is a feeling of being increasingly locked in against a limitation of max. 4 “storage rooms” for your “bookshelfs” with a clear perspective that a migration will be cumbersome.

Migrating away from Rack2-Filer Smart

This guide assumes that you have grown fond of the structure you have chosen in Rack2-Filer Smart, and want it to be carried over to DEVONthink as a starting point to review and adjust to DEVONthinks advanced capabilities.

I will use words that are specific to Rack2-Filer Smart to pick up users where they currently may still be.

Target picture

You will have a number of databases in DEVONthink that (initially) match the number of “bookshelfs” in your “library” in Rack2-Filer Smart. In these, you will have groups of documents corresponding to your Rack2-Filer Smart “binders”. In these groups, you will have sub-groups corresponding to “sections” that are usually introduced by “dividers”.

Preparation (Windows side)

  1. Set up a folder on your PC that you will share with e.g. anyone in your network.

  2. From your bookshelf, export your binders one by one using the “export source data” option in the context. Use the dolder you have just created as destination.

This action will neglect, i.e. miss out on pages that have no double page mode!
You can see which pages are affected by this by opening the binder in question and with a double-click and going to the “minature view mode” (the view mode with the 4 sheets). Look out for pages that have no thick black border (usually spanning across one or more pages) around them.
Solution: select affected pages and export them as PDF to the same folder.

Problematic pages look like this:

macOS side

  1. Set up databases in DEVONthink that suit your needs. In my case, I had bookshelfs for my personal/private use, for my wife, for shared use and for work/business. Since we use DTTG on my and my wife’s mobile, and not everything needs to be synchronized for everyone, I kept this structure and translated the “bookshelfs” to databases.

  2. Open Finder and choose from the menu to “Go” to “Connect to a server”. Make sure you have access to the folder you have created Windows-side.

  3. Select the folders (and, very likely, the manually saved PDF files), open the context menu and ask “Services” to “Add to DEVONthink3”. Soon enough, you will find the migrated files in your Global Inbox.

  4. Open the first of the newly created folder (in your Global Inbox) on your Mac. Open Rack2-Filer Smart on your Windows machine and open the respective binder.

  5. In DEVONthink, select all files corresponding to one section in Rack2-Filer Smart (all pages between 2 dividers) and open the context menu. Select “Group Items”. Work through the pile. Do not forget to add the manually saved files.

  6. Brush up the name of the group that was added to your Global Inbox. It will have timestamp information you may not need.

  7. Finally, choose “Move to” via the context menu to move the folder including its newly created sub-folders to a database of your liking.

Manual effort vs. Scripting

Being new to macOS, but not programming, I estimated max. 4-5 hours to get to a working scripted solution. I still wanted to go through the complete files manually to check for blank pages or better structures, so I discarded the effort to automate a one-off situation.


PS. Pardon my English / I am not a native speaker. As written above, I will add some screenshots once I find the time or someone expresses interest.


“Binders” sitting in “bookshelfs”- this is what the main window of Rack2-Filer Smart looks like:

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This is what a binder looks like on the inside:

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The Rack2-Filer Smart storage in Windows Explorer

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… represented by an XML file

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The Rack2-Filer Smart “library” with “bookshelfs” in Windows Explorer

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… represented by an XML file

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The “bookshelf” with “binders” in Windows Explorer

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… represented by an XML file

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The binder’s structure in Windows Explorer

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… with the files

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Thanks for sharing your process so thoroughly (and the kind words)! :slight_smile:

that´s great, I wish you would have migrated 3 years earlier… :sweat_smile:


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