My suggestions for making DT rock

I bought DT because it was the closest thing I could find to what my goal, which is total information management on my computer. I’ve studied a lot of different systems - the file/folder paradigm, the database/search paradigm, file and user-created metadata/keywords, wikis, mindmapping, etc. DT is really cool, but I’m finding some things that I think would make it a thousand times better. Implement this stuff, and DT will blow every other information manager away. (This is a long post, so bear with me.)

I really like Notepad view, but one of the things I noticed immediately is that you can’t get the “Words” button and the Keywords search field without double-clicking to open the text file into a new window. This doesn’t make any sense to me, since they are important tools to have in the Notpad view. The less windows I need to open, the better.

One of the things I really want is a way to attach any number of personal keywords or key phrases to a document, which are used in all the advanced association calculations. DevonThink should use both file-related metadata and well as user-created metadata as keywords for the advanced tasks. Add a preference slider to select how much weight a personally created keywords rather then keywords found in the document contents have in DT’s calculations.

See-Also and Find really help for auto-finding file associations. Especially in the case of See-Also, you get really good info about what files belong together. In that vain, I want to be able to use See-Also (which should be using both file as well as personal metadata, see above), to have DT to auto-suggest NEW folders I might want to create with the top keywords that are found. One way you might do this is to split the Classify pane into two pieces- the top part has the existing folders based upon what my heirarchy is and the bottom with suggestions for new folders. One click creates the folder and puts the current document into it.

A bigger command might be to have an option to scan all selected files or the entire database and suggest a folder structure based upon keywords in common between documents. Allow the user to accept or reject the suggestion.

Another good feature for folders might be to have a button in the See-Also and Keywords flyout panes to grab any of the selected results and add those documents to the current document’s folder, create replicates in that folder, or create a new folder and move/replicate everything into it.

A features that’s almost certainly to win you a lot of converts: Smart Folders a la iTunes and what will be in the OS X Finder in 10.4. In other words, have an option to create folder that auto-creates replicates into it based upon what keywords or other information I want the folder to hold. A Smart Folder-like system is absolutely essential for databases with hundreds or thousands of documents.

A bit more control is needed over the the auto-classification function. The user can specify that the option either moves or create replicates in the top-X numbered closely matched folders. Auto-classify should give you a window with a status report of what will happen, which you can either confirm or not.

Moving on to wikis and manual (as opposed to DT enhanced) associations between files. One of the things I think wikis are poor at is cross-referencing links quickly and easily. In other words, create an option that if I make a link to a certain file, a reverse link is created with the name of the linked document at the bottom of the new document. This is so I can easily bounce back and forth between the two documents, without wondering what documents are linked to the current document. (If you don’t implement this, please consider a command which at least tells me what files are linked to the current document.) Another thing that I think would be helpful is to create links simply by dragging and dropping documents on top of each other. This action would auto-create mutual linked document titles at the bottom of both documents. A good idea then for a new flyout pane then would be all of the documents manually linked to the current file. Click on a file and you jump to it, just like you do with See-Also.

I’m pretty sure you were looking at this, but definately add wiki-like detection of already existing documents. (A great program for getting wiki-esque ideas is the Windows program Wikidpad. Definitely study this program.)

Ok, with all the association stuff out of the way, I think next up is more tools for manipulating text. A killer program you might want to link DT to is BBEdit. Double-click a file to edit in BBEdit, and round-trip changes show up in DT. Without BBEdit, I think DT could stand some html or code editing features. Two things I think would probably be extremely useful to people are document templates (a default template for all new documents) and a text snippet collector. A feature to compare two documents and report differences between the two. More advanced sorting: sort documents in the hierarchy by frequency of a certain keyword, by text found in comments, etc. Add a sort menu right above the hierarchy list.

You already know about all the stuff with sucking or grabbing data off the web (web archiving), so I won’t go into that. (Except maybe to say that there should be a way to sync to the saved file if a website gets updated.) Two really important sources of data that DT should be associating with are emails, and PALM data. You can use the OS X Service on these things, but it’s not the same as simply linking them and viewing the content right in DT. For the palm I’m mainly interested in Palm memos, but other forms of Palm data are good as well. DT REALLY needs a way of either viewing Palm memos, or you guys should create a Palm conduit entirely. One-click syncing certain DT files to my Palm would be the holy grail of carrying and updating my personal information database on the go.

And one final thing. (I know you are sick of me by now.) I would really love a way to have the Notepad view have default margins around it’s boarders. It just a thing with me, I don’t like the text bumping up against the sides of the window.

That’s about it. Keep up the good work.

I also like the idea of templates, but would like more than just ONE template.

As I try to migrate all my information tracking into DT, I’d love to have, more than one template, which could, when the template was “activated” fill in the current date, time, set different tab stops / margins, fonts selections. There might be a different template for “Daily lab note”, “Daily personal journal”, “Patient tracking”, “New project”, etc.

The way I’ve been doing it now, I just have a different RTF for each “template”, and duplicate it and manually type in the Date / Time, etc. So, I guess all I need is to have tags that automatically expand automatically into date / time / etc., which should hopefully not be too hard, given that you already have a single Wiki template available.

Especially nice would be if the tags could be incoporated into the document title, so that the title of the expanded template would be "Lab note 04 Aug 2004" or somesuch.


Yes, seems unusual the Words button is missing in Vertical Split view when Classify and See Also buttons are visible.  That makes it inconsistent with having all three buttons available in a separate document window.
Not sure which keywords search field you mean… maybe I’ve missed something useful. ???

2.x will have expanded metadata support, IIRC.

Sounds interesting.

Maybe commands available from the CM when those drawers are open could be on an action button?  I’ve noticed ones like that used at the bottom of the OmniWeb Bookmarks window.

More generally, I wouldn’t mind an action button replacing the gaudy text-in-a-button for Words/Classify/See Also.  Or, replace each button with an icon plus a tooltip and/or small text underneath.  I think either would make the UI more attractive, with a bit of an iApp-liike appeal (sans brushed metal :wink:).

Smart groups are coming in 2.x.  In DEVONthink, it makes more sense (to me) calling them groups instead of folders to avoid mistaken analogies with Finder folders.  But DT groups do use that traditional folder icon… :wink:

I’d like a way to toggle Wiki link highlighting so I can temporarily hide it if it’s a distraction to reading the current document.

Lacking BBEdit, interfaces to other external editors might be used.  I’d much rather DTech work on providing that functionality than expending resources of HTML/code editing development in that crowded field.

To the Palm (unidirectional) or with the Palm (bi-directional)?  Just checking if you really mean the latter.

DEVONthink, Palm Edition? :slight_smile:

I don’t see where this “text bumping” is that you’re describing.  There are expand/collapse triangles and icons to the left of item names keeping a buffer between that text and the left edge of the window.

In Vertical Split view, content in browser windows for URL links goes to the bottom edge (if there’s no scrollbar); others types of windows have the thick footer/border with Classify and See Also buttons.  There’s something visually “awkward” switching between those two window styles while browsing through items.