My interest in DevonThink Pro

I have posted comments recently in what might be considered rather harsh tones if not having strongly negative character. As I’ve noted, I do not despise DT, I am instead frustrated by the clutter in parts of its UI. In balance, I will provide a background to my interest.

My goal over the next 9 months is to write a science/engineering textbook. I have notes, assignments, lecture slides, and a mish-mash of other documents (some as esoteric as Adobe Persuasion) collected from over a few decades.

I will manage the workflow to assemble the book using a Kanban-like system in Curio. To complement this, I need a way to collect, sort, compare, and categorize/tag the mish-mash of my decades-old collections of electronic files in a systematic manner. I used DT previously (a year ago) with modest success to start a journal article (but then switched over to Papers3 where the PDFs were maintained). I therefore have all respect that DT can do the part of the workflow that I need. What I am yet missing is a convincing sense that I will find DT comfortable to use–that I will see past its UI blemishes to do the work that I need.

I hope this post is a fair trade for the critiques that I’ve given so far.


This is a free and open place to speak. As long as there are no personal attacks - which will be dealt with quickly, as necessary.

Suggestions are heard regardless, but our hope is that criticism is not only constructive but also catholic (ie. universal, not religious :smiley: ). We do not write software for one, or even a few. We write software for the many, our User base. We have more to consider than one User’s “discomfort” or preference. And there’s a danger in creating software that’s so able to be customized, that Support is made much more difficult. We cannot hope to support all the things people want (though again, we are always reading these things).

And as a point related to this, your other threads, and the UI/UX thread… people citing Scrivener. Not denigrating the fine folks at Literature and Latte, but I don’t find Scrivener to suit my taste. I think it’s an amazing bit of software, but I can’t bring myself to use it for more than an occasional Support request. Again, no dig on them and says nothing about the quality of their product. It just doesn’t scratch my itch in a way I say, “Ahh… nice!”, compelling me to dig deeper into it. And you or anyone else, are free to disagree with me (though it’s illogical to tell me I’m wrong when I’m stating my feelings or opinion on the matter).

All that being said, you are free to speak your mind. You are also freely opening yourself to be disagreed with (or agreed with, as the other person views things). That’s the beauty of an open forum.

Yes and it is good to be reminded of this occasionally! The trouble is that we probably all have an unconscious tendency to think that “I have bought this software it should do what I want it to do, why won’t the thing work?” DEVONthink is pretty versatile, remarkably so IMHO, that is what makes it such a good application and I often find myself thinking that other applications could learn a lot from how it is put together and from how the folk who develop and maintain it provide such good support.

And that of all the things to care passionately about, software is never one of them.


You may want to consider using Scrivener to write the textbook - Scrivener has powerful compiling features, templates, and more, and it can also relate to and exchange with DevonThink Pro.

I tend to use DevonThink to collect information, and then use Scrivener to refine, write and then output the final piece.

There are many references on the web.

@t_hayash: Thanks for the suggestion. We actually have a very specialized system in-house for our documentation, engineered by our own CEO. It’s a pretty remarkable setup, but it is proprietary so I can’t share the details. Cheers!

I am a researcher and are using the two programs similar to what you describe. Personally, I think it is tough to beat the ability to consolidate, integrate, connect, and retrieve information in DTPO and to beat the ability to plan, integrate, organise, and publish very long, long-term, and scattered writings in Scrivener. I think any experienced users of these two programs will know that these two programs serve very different purposes, and are complementary to each other. For academic work, the main weakness in DTPO is metadata management and the main weakness for Scrivener is the reference management.