New Version

I am just taking stock at the end of the year of my workflow, and have realised that devonthink is looking really dated now compare to other apps and Yosemite. It is still very functional and therefore integral to my workflow but a bit of friendly supportive feedback. The interface needs updating and the ios integration needs improving.

I have used Devonthink for years and i ‘get it’. However how can new users who are increasing ios focused going to come on board? I know that Devonthink is regularly updated and is certainly not abandonware however there is a deafening silence on the roadmap of development.

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Hi. Please see this thread for some idea of the roadmap, current development focus, etc.

Personally, I’m pretty happy with the interface, and while cosmetic changes wouldn’t be unwelcome, they aren’t a top priority for me. I’m just pleased that it is so reliable :slight_smile: I would like to see the app continue to pick up new users, though, and, in that respect, a fresh “Yosemite” face would help.

There have been some hints that the team is also working on DEVONthink 3, but no details on features or release other than “when it’s ready”. As it is, though, they’ve been way more transparent than the NetHack DevTeam (whose last release was in 2003 and who have just now confirmed the existence of work on NH4).

Sorry for being dense, but what does NetHack have to do with DEVONthink?

Absolutely nothing! I just saw the recent stuff on NetHack and realized that the last release date was the same year was registered. And the amount of change and DEVONthink releases since then have been amazing. So although I anxiously await new exciting coolness, it puts it in perspective.

Glad that I’m not the only one.

OmniGroup has done really well (another Mac specialist productivity software producer whose apps I use in conjunction with DTPO) in terms of refreshing their interface in line with common interface standards established in Mountain Lion and Yosemite.

Hi. Is there something in particular that looks dated? It seems to me that everything is optimized for retina screens, it has the latest Yosemite transparency, etc.

I could see flattening things out a bit more and toning down all the demarcations for different sections of the app, I guess, but I find those aspects of Yosemite especially annoying, so I am OK without them. Maybe there are other dated design aspects I’m missing?

I have to concur with Frobgoblin. In general the aesthetic is inline with Yosemite as far as I can see without any usability sacrifices (though the fairly complex and busy interface itself poses some usability challenges [this isn’t a complaint though!]). Thankfully DT has been great about getting hi-dpi/Retina interface elements. No glaring blur on my systems!

Sure there could be some tweaks but I don’t there’s much on my wishlist. I’d welcome change, but in my opinion we are not at the point of change for the sake of change, not because there’s a glaring deviation from the current design language.

I do apologise for referencing competitor/non-DEVONtechnologies products in advance, but I think it’s the easiest way to illustrate my point here.

From this… OmniFocus 1 (DEVONthink currently bears a similar resemblance to OmniFocus 1. The mid/late 2000s OS X look.):

To this… OmniFocus 2 (Yosemite/Post-iOS 7 UX):

It is immediately more visual appealing, without sacrificing any of the utility/features that OmniFocus is well known for.

New interface ≠ usability sacrifice.

It’s definitely possible to reconcile the two principles together.

I have to say, however, that I have witnessed a disturbing trend in how, post-iOS 7, most apps (including redesigned OS X apps) have reduced data density (New ‘dark’ Spotify, OmniFocus 2 without the data density tweaks, …).


This does not mean that a new interface refresh should not occur, due to this concern. Otherwise, according to this logic, we should’ve stopped immediately at DOS and not move beyond towards GUI-based OSes, as it would ‘sacrifice utility’.

To restate my point: a new interface ≠ usability sacrifice.

Just to be clear, at no point did I say that a new interface, or the yosemite design language inevitably implied a usability sacrifice.

Some applications have sacrificed usability in the interest of taking the new design language to an extreme. DT has not yet done that. Indeed, it could continue to evolve aesthetically without sacrificing user experience if care is taken (looks like the Omni folk took care too, except for data density as you point out). At no point did I suggest otherwise except to imply that it is possible for some elements of the Yosemite design language to compromise usability if not carefully implemented.

I am not interested in change for the sake of change when resources could be spent for change in the interest of addressing actual problems or needs. I’d welcome interface changes, but I’d welcome a slew of other changes before that!

That said, the new Omni stuff does look awfully pretty! DevonThink doesn’t need to look like that, but I wouldn’t complain if it did.

You have a point about it looking more Yosemite-ish For example, some of the icons resemble Apple’s apps. I think it is fair to say that the “inspector” icon in DT is not following the flat design Apple has adopted and it is blue instead of the featureless gray.

I strongly dislike the new design language, and I find it less user friendly (when did color become an impediment to usability or something dated?), but I could say that about a lot of Apple’s stuff these days. It is what it is, and we ought to get on board if we want to look hip. That is true.

Personally, though, I’m just glad the app is humming along so well, and if they don’t have time to tweak the interface, I won’t complain :slight_smile:

Unless D.T. wishes to forgo any significant new user expansion in the sub-20, sub-25 demographics, it is unlikely that they will gain significant market share or sales.

Meanwhile, Evernote is prepping to IPO in the next year or so. DEVONtechnologies has had half a decade (or so) of a head start against Evernote. I’m certainly going to pick up EN or EVNT stock (whatever their ticker symbol is going to be) when it comes out, despite being ideologically opposed to using Evernote. Their growth is just phenomenal and they have adequately responded to visual interface trends.

I don’t advocate ‘dumbing it down’. That’s not the point of specialty productivity software suites like DEVONthink.

However, if you look at OmniGroup, it’s possible to revamp user interfaces and ‘keep with the times’, but at the same time, retain functionality.

In terms of disliking the new design language… it is what it is. Computers are (sadly, or perhaps happily) no longer used by a small section of society. Interfaces no longer are designed solely for the programming audience. I could well say that I dislike the GUI way we interact with computers (after all, typing within a CLI interface like DOS, or using a Linux distribution without a desktop environment is highly more efficient (in terms of pure text-producing productivity) than wasting time with my right hand off the keyboard, fiddling about with a oval shaped device connected to my computer, clicking away at little rectangles and squares.).

As the late Steve Jobs said, computing is at the intersection of the ‘technologies and liberal arts’. The visual interface, the ease of use needs to cohere with providing deep and usable functionality.

To conclude/tl;dr synopsis: Could be better.

I find Yosemite aesthetically offensive. That’s all. 8)

Yeah, but what are your real feelings :laughing:


For the most part, I like the flat look of Yosemite and iOS 8, however…

Using OmniFocus as an example of an app with a revamped interface that retains functionality is highly subjective. While overall OmniFocus 2 has been well received, there are those who are still scratching heads over some of the changes. Putting task checkoff circles on the far right margin of the screen is just one example of how usability has (subjectively) suffered. Personally, I find OmniFocus 2 to be a mess. Pretty to casually look at, but a mess.

A better example where a new interface ≠ usability sacrifice would be Cultured Code’s Things update v. 2.5, which has a nice, fresh look without any adverse changes to usability.

I’d be more than happy with a DEVONthink makeover that does little more than ditching the HUD display! :smiley:

Great example. Don’t use it myself but have been closely monitoring Things (looking forward to Things 3 being released soon).



As seen, a new interface does not necessarily result in sacrificing usability.

I’m advocating more of a UX refresh, rather than a complete overhaul and a ‘dumbing down’ in terms of functionality. Functionality remains important, but that doesn’t mean that it should drag down appearance. DEVONthink is a great worker but it has to change into a suit and a shirt once in a while.

Something across the lines of what OmniFocus 2, Things, Evernote and a bevy of other productivity apps have done, in response to the new UX paradigm.

I don’t think I said anything equating Yosemite’s design language with a dumbing down of the app, and I don’t see anyone else saying that either. My personal objection was to Yosemite itself, which I feel is not designed for usability, but rather has some other aesthetic goal in mind. I don’t know how anyone can argue that gray on gray, the bleeding away of colors, or translucency makes anything easier to distinguish. There are wildly divergent opinions about this, though, and I think that suggests Apple doesn’t have a lock on “good” design.

I don’t find Evernote’s growth any indication of superior design, because I don’t equate a large user base with a good product. I’m not saying anything is wrong with Evernote. In fact, I think they started with an inspiring vision (an “external brain”) and they have some fantastic folks on their team (I’ve met several of them). I’m sure that when they have an IPO I’ll think about investing as well. It’s just that growth is beside the point. This is a different conversation than one about the UI.

Evernote happens to have a lot of great features, and it is doing some pretty amazing things, but it is also a cloud-based note-taking app which is available on every platform and is geared toward a mobile user with a “freemium” business model built on converting free users into premium ones through the gathering of their data into a convenient location on the cloud. One key to the revenue stream has been to establish a subscription basis for payment. … -year.html

In my opinion, Evernote may have a lot of users, but there are many use cases, especially those that cannot / should not use the cloud, which have been written out of the app in favor of appealing to a broad spectrum of users with relatively simple note-taking needs. This is so far removed from an insanely flexible personal information manager like DEVONthink on OSX/iOS that it is difficult to compare them. I think there are things DEVONthink could learn from Evernote (and vice versa), but I suspect the business model is not one of them (I hope they don’t adopt a subscription model!), because the folks at DT don’t seem interested in designing for the rapid acquisition of users. In fact, they seem relatively unconcerned with the market, and they are focused instead on perfecting their product(s) along the lines they see fit (relaxed development of iOS and no development of Windows, Android, or Blackberry). Perhaps I am wrong here about their outlook, but whatever it is, it has resulted in one of the best apps on OSX that I have ever used, so it is tough to criticize their business model. … iples.html

As for the interface on Evernote, there are plenty of people out their who loathe it, especially on the Mac. … interface/

I am not terribly keen on many of the Evernote design decisions, but I will admit that the app is quite streamlined and pleasant to use (as it has been since 2008). That’s more a reflection of the great thought that went into designing the original UI than praise for the updates, which have done some pretty unwelcome things over time in order to express Apple’s ever-changing aesthetic. In my opinion, Evernote has done a great job of reflecting the design aesthetic of each operating system while maintaining a similar design across platforms. Unfortunately, the design efforts of OS makers in recent years haven’t been my cup of tea, and Evernote’s choice to follow them means they are dependent on the whims of OS designers. The Metro app is a great example of how this has resulted in a sub-standard user experience. You can see it below: … fc31e5cba6

DT isn’t perfect. There are things about the interface I would like to change. But, overall, we (the developers and I) seem to be on the same page. I’d love it if DT could find a way to refresh the interface without making some of the less appealing design changes Apple is pushing.

Some more examples of well-designed OS X apps (according to the Yosemite UX principles) that don’t compromise on features:

Ulysses (Formerly known as Ulysses 3):

Sketch 3:

Reeder 2:

This thread has been clogged up, from a small screen perspective, with massive screenshots are impossible to read on a small iPad and iPhone. Makes this thread unusable for those of us trying to read along. So – what is the post, above, intending to communicate? Could the poster just include links to the images?