My experience with Devonthink versus Obsidian

I’m not going to bash Obsidian, I simply want to share how happy I am with Devonthink. I spent the last month trying to set up Obsidian with various plugs and themes, watching dozens of youtube videos on best practices, etc. The ration of fidgeting to productive working was probably 80/20. It became that the friction I felt when I opened Obsidian to take notes, writing on the canvas, annotate pdfs, caused me to begin to avoid beginning any work. I decided to open DT ( I have always used it for storing material) and commit to truly working in it the way I tried with Obsidian. Let me tell you, in one afternoon I have changed the ratio to 80% reading, annotating, note taking, and only 20% for organizing. Incredible! Most of the plugins I had to download for Obsidian are actions that are built into DT, along with scripts. And the wiki linking in DTTG works beautifully. I just regret the time wasted trying to make Obsidian into DT, LOL.

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Let me tell you, in one afternoon I have changed the ratio to 80% reading, annotating, note taking, and only 20% for organizing. Incredible! Most of the plugins I had to download for Obsidian are actions that are built into DT, along with scripts. And the wiki linking in DTTG works beautifully. I just regret the time wasted trying to make Obsidian into DT, LOL.

:heart: :smiling_face:
We are very glad to hear about your journey!

PS: We don’t bash other apps either, even ones people call our competition. That being said, it’s okay to criticize and offer opinions (even strong ones) as long as there are no personal attacks or unruly language used :slight_smile:

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I agree with you. I tested several note taking apps until I realized that DT has everything I need for my research.

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If you’re exclusively using a Mac and only have one Mac device, Devonthink can be a suitable note-taking solution. However, things become complicated when you have multiple computers with various operating systems, including Mac, Windows, Linux, and NAS. Devonthink runs exclusively on Mac and employs a ‘semi-binary’ storage format.

While you can set up a web server to access your Devonthink data remotely, this method requires a consistently online and powerful Mac. Moreover, the web version is not as user-friendly as the desktop application. This essentially ties you to using Devonthink on a single Mac to access your notes.

Obsidian, on the other hand, offers a more versatile solution. It stores all your data as markdown plain files, which can be effortlessly synchronized across platforms using services like Dropbox or OneDrive. This allows you to access your notes with a variety of text editors, such as Emacs, Vi, or even Logseq.

The importance of accommodating multiple operating systems becomes evident when considering various use cases. While Mac excels for personal development due to its attractive UI and Brew package manager, tasks like heavy computation, AI-related work, and extensive database tasks may necessitate a Linux server. Additionally, many corporate settings provide Windows machines for cost-effectiveness and compatibility with specialized software like Solidworks (Mechaincal), EDA tools (Electrical), and Bloomberg terminals (Finance).

For those juggling Mac, Windows, and Linux machines, Devonthink falls short as a note-taking solution. Ideally, a note-taking application should offer clients for diverse operating systems and support syncing to a NAS with ample storage space.

Obsidian largely fulfills these requirements, boasting clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It facilitates NAS synchronization through Dropbox via CloudSync. Although it lacks a built-in web interface, you can address this by deploying an Obsidian Docker instance within your NAS and setting up a reverse proxy like Nginx. This setup enables you to access your notes from anywhere, even on public computers using browsers like Chrome or Firefox.

In summary, while Devonthink’s cross-platform capabilities remain limited, Obsidian provides a more adaptable solution for users working across different operating systems and seeking seamless note synchronization.

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Welcome @clu

Thanks for your thoughts.
Note our userbase is largely committed to the Apple ecosystem.

For those juggling Mac, Windows, and Linux machines, Devonthink falls short as a note-taking solution.

PS: DEVONthink is not a note-taking application and not in direct competition with Obsidian.

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Can you explain what you mean by cloudsync with Dropbox? Are you just hosting files in a Dropbox folder? Do you use mobile?

Specifically wondering if you have a way to make this work with iOS. I’ve given up on obsidian and indexing in DT as it gets too fiddly with duplicates in DT. But this means I use DT for personal notes and end up using onenote at work as PC only and would love to have work and personal together in obsidian (indexed to DT with the rest of my data).

I greatly enjoyed using DEVONthink as my primary note and knowledge management application for approximately five years, particularly during my school years when I extensively utilized a MacBook. It proved to be highly effective during that period. Challenges emerged once I entered the workforce, as the environment shifted to Windows-based systems, and I found myself frequently confined within a Linux server for computational tasks and travel purposes.

I harbored a strong hope that DEVONthink would eventually introduce cross-platform compatibility, which could have positioned it to outshine competitors like Notion/Obsidian. However, reality unfolded differently. Despite this, I acknowledge the successes it achieved within the macOS ecosystem.

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(Parenthetically, I have had a DT Pro license for years)
I had been using Evernote for my notetaking and main web capture app, and just switched to Obsidian due to the growing issues with Evernote. I would really love to come back and consolidate on DT, however the deal breaker for me is that it doesn’t have full support for any cloud services — by which I mean, I would like to store the actual database on the cloud (not use the DT Sync, which I regard as pretty klunky) in order to be able to use it on multiple macs. I could live without the iOS support if necessary. I really hope the devs would stop what appears to be a quasi-ideological stance against supporting full cloud integration.

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Sorry you feel that way. I’ve been synching with DEVONthink and DEVONthink ToGo for years with Bonjour, Dropbox, and Synology NAS (WebDAV) and it just works. I do not notice “klunkiness” as once setup it just works with no interaction req’d by me.

Apple’s Cloud Services are unreliable for many. Perhaps that was your issue. Dunno.

Based on what I read here and in the documentation, I detect no “quasi-ideological” or for that matter “ideological” stances.

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At this point, all my current active work files exist on cloud services so that I can work on them from multiple machines. Saves the old aggregation of needing to sync and use sneakernet back and forth between locations. I have had zero issues with any apps on OneDrive, DropBox, GoogleDriveor iCloud.

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Would there be any real difference between Devonthink’s current sync and full cloud integration?

You would use databases on your devices and they would be synced. As it is, you can already do that. Grumpy folks like myself can put a sync store on a USB drive and achieve the same thing without the cloud.

Full cloud integration without a local copy of data sounds problematic.

What feature is missing?

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I have always had trouble when I try to set up a DT database on a second machine to remember all the settings from a first machine. And as I said, I don’t want to deal with sneakernet anymore. I understand that there are folks who have slow, or unreliable network connections, but I don’t understand why both use cases could not be supported (a “local” database location and a cloud database location).

Setup on a second machine that has a licensed copy of DEVONthink or DEVONthink to go, the settings are “remembered” and do not have to be entered again. Yes, if you don’t remember you can’t then connect, but can you write down the settings or something?

Simply, DEVONthink is not setup for the databases to reside on a remote cloud synced service. But for me I routinely do what you want to do, without have to re-enter settings for anything.

this doesn’t obviate the need for “sneakernet” to transfer databases back and forth

For those trapped in non-MacOS systems, never forget DT Server. (I seem to be saying this a lot, but it’s always worth reminding people that it exists.) It still needs a Mac at the centre of the web, and functionality is limited to the basics and not all of those work across all platforms and browsers, but it’s good enough at enough things to be worth thinking about if the enterprise pricing isn’t a deterrent.

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While we are big proponents of decentalized systems, this isn’t merely an idealogical stance. There are technological issues with cloud services and package files.

PS: Unless using a specific online-only mode, these services are also providing decentralization, no different than we are. What do you think the local iCloud Drive folder is for? :slight_smile:

And for options like an offline mode where the file contents are downloaded to the local device on demand, how is this different than DEVONthink To Go’s shallow sync?

Humm. Never ever did that with DEVONthink, and haven’t used “sneakernet” since probably 1994 or so … guess that’s something special in your environment. Oh well, if that’s what you want, expect, or need, go for it. I

Maybe I don’t, and never understood your sync model. But if I set up a database and need to store it local, and put stuff in there, how do I keep it identical on a second computer without using sneakernet to transport the actual database file to and from? And obviously databases can become very very large.

Maybe I don’t, and never understood your sync model. But if I set up a database and need to store it local, and put stuff in there, how do I keep it identical on a second computer without using sneakernet to transport the actual database file to and from? And obviously databases can become very very large.

If the sync store is on a cloud server, just let it sync. Don’t copy the database file.

Even with my USB sync store, I never copy databases. Even on initial “copy”, I go to the sync preferences, find the database I want, and use the download feature to grab the database.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve never copied a database outside of the sync process.

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If I import files into a database, where are they located? In the file - correct? So if I want to recreate the same database on another computer what do I do? Don’t I need to actually copy the database?