Newbie feedback

Being something of a newbie to Macs (about 15 months), I’ve been looking for the “perfect” piece of software for keeping track of notes and files.

I’ve been looking at DevonThink for some time (about a month) as one of the best candidates for the single piece of software that will help me organize my notes and ultimately, myself. I have Scrivener and Notebook. Each has its capabilities and limitations. In my Windows past life, I used OneNote and am still bummed out about when Ecco Pro was discontinued in 1997.

As my eval license of DevonThink Pro gets close to expiring, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do (buy DTP, DTPE or find something else altogether). I’m really trying to justify a place on my MacBook and my budget for DevonThink. I would love to find one application and sink my time and heart into it.

What I’ve found (and what’s on my wish-list):

  • The export -> website feature is interesting, but leaves me wanting. It seems that for this feature to be complete, it should by default (or provide an option to) generate an index.html with names/links to the files in the website. The format conversion between rich text and HTML in export->website still needs work, in my opinion. In my experimentation, the standard rich text to HTML was too tiny, even after bumping the font size up twice.

  • The text in the full screen view is tiny, in my opinion (an answer here would be that I simply need a bigger monitor :smiley: ).

  • I have still not arrived at understanding the paradigm of the download manager. What I would like is something that allows me to download a complete page page, including links, to an organized place within a folder. It appears the download manager allows me to download web pages and linked pages, but then it drops these pages and files to an area called “archive”. I would then like to search within the downloaded pages. If this can be done in a clean manner with DevonThink today, I haven’t figured it out yet.

  • One thing I’m really looking for is a tool to help organize things like Powerpoint presentations. I understand why this might not be on the roadmap for Devonthink, but this will be an awesome feature for whoever develops it.

  • Being able to manipulate pages within PDFs (including even printed Powerpoint presentations) would be useful.

  • Serious HTML editing capabilities would be phenomenal, in my opinion. I’m a fan of Kompozer and would welcome a tool which allowed me to both organize my HTML pages and have decent HTML WYSIWYG and source editing capabilities. (and which didn’t cost in the 3-digit US dollar range).

  • The applescript scripts are interesting, but I’m still trying to find a use for them.

These are my simple requirements :smiley: I can probably be classified as a computer geek (with a strong liberal arts background), so I think I understand computer applications better than most people. I think there is some power to DevonThink, but I’m still waiting for the instant when I find that I’m getting more value out of DevonThink than I’m putting into it. …

Did you try editing the website.css file that’s generated when you export? I haven’t messed around with the website export all that much, mind.

Yes, this is definitely a problem.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Why don’t you drag the stuff out of Archive to wherever you want it?

Personally, I hate working with HTML above all other things, even Nazis and brain-eating spiders. What I do is download using the download manager to a directory in the Finder, not into the DTP database, and then use an Automator workflow to load up all the pages in DEVONagent and render to PDF, then stick that into my database. The filesize becomes hefty, but at least I don’t have to screw with images and paths and all that crap.

The power and value of DEVONthink (IMHO) is really the appropriation and combination of basic OS X technology, the addition of small features, and then the massive scriptability of the resulting application. I think the best way to look at DTP is not like a toy car or squirt gun but as a box of Legos™; you will benefit most from DTP if you learn AppleScript and then create the advanced functionality you require.

Hello MichiganTechie,

I don’t think Scrivener is a tool for organize notes. Scrivener is more an application designed for writing purposes.

The plus of Devonthink is the “artificial intelligence”, the capability of analyze texts and to give suggestions of similar documents. If you really want to analyse your documents and not only storing them, Devonthink is the right tool (Devonthink store your documents very well also).

If you come from OneNote, you can maybe try Curio, if your need is to visually brainstorm things and keep notes in the same place.

Perhaps so, but it does seem to have some useful capabilities for storing research data. In particular, dropping a single web page into Scrivener seems much easier and organized than doing the same with DevonThink.

I need to better understand/appreciate how DevonThink analyzes documents and why this is useful.

Just downloaded Curio. It looks interesting, but doesn’t have the same feel as OneNote – Notebook seems to more closely approximate OneNote. Curio seems like it is heavily focused on visual capabilities (such as drawing pictures on the fly). I drew very few pictures in OneNote; I used it mostly to keep all my notes in one place and to easily allow me to find an earlier note.

The above script does create an index, but not a linkable index that would be appropriate for a web page index. Essentially, I want to “publish” a set of notes I wrote up Friday with a simple index page linking the files. Since my initial post, I manually created an HTML-friendly index page within DTP, but it wasn’t easy or pretty.

This seems messy to me, unless I did this each and every time I downloaded something. Otherwise, I’m stuck figuring out which files came from which download. I’d like to be working in a location in DTP where I want the downloaded page to dropped into and have the downloaded pages get dropped into that location.

I’m a big fan of HTML, although I acknowledge its limitations and prefer simple HTML to complex HTML (the HTML from saving a Word doc as HTML being an example of complex HTML). The above seems like a lot of work to get a downloaded page to a place in DTP that makes sense contextually and which retains the original look and feel of the web page.

I know how to program, but haven’t done a lot of programming to work with my personal notes and haven’t discovered the value in doing this. This said, I started down the path of being a computer geek a couple decades ago by creating macros in Lotus 1-2-3 to crunch numbers. Having become overwhelmed with the complexity of applications such as Microsoft Office, I stopped trying to do scripting with “desktop” applications a long time ago.

If DTP is the application that gets me to rediscover the value of scripting with applications, that would be cool. For example, the above index script seems like one that is crying to be updated to support creating links to files in the index.

If you only plan to use a body of research once, for one article, Scrivener is probably a better tool than DTP. Its writing tools are far superior, while its research tools are adequate for small projects.

The problem with Scrivener is scale. It simply doesn’t have the tools to search and sort hundreds of items with millions of words. DTP does. So if you revisit an area over and over again, expanding your knowledge each time, or if you work on book-scale projects, DTP is less likely to be overwhelmed.

I use both. DTP is the master archive, while a given Scrivener project might contain only materials relevant to that project. I also use DevonAgent, which is far more capable for information capture than DTP’s internal tools.

I disagree with the poster who mentioned the wonderfulness of DTP’s scriptability. I simply haven’t needed that feature. YMMV.


Tip: There were a couple of comments about small font size in the Full Screen view. While in that view, if the text seems small, press Control-Command-Up Arrow. (To make text look smaller, press Control-Command-Down Arrow.)

That’s a Zoom command in DEVONthink. It doesn’t change the actual font size of text documents, just makes them look bigger. Does the same with PDFs and image files. It also makes the text of HTML and WebArchive documents larger (in font size, too), but doesn’t make images larger with those file types.

That was way easy! Thanks! :slight_smile:

Do you use Capture? This creates a fully searchable, off-line page.
Use Search:All/phrase/no case

That’s really outside of DTPro’s scope in my opinion (WYSIWYG). You are aware, you can both edit and view code right?

New->HTML Page

I use this all the time, and even created a keyboard shortcut (Apple System Prefs) to toggle between view and edit mode.

If you are looking for a great web design application, try Rapidweaver.

Event though it has a basic code snippet organizer built in (RW), I use DTPro for organizing/editing (and previewing) my code snippets.

I saw the capture feature, but didn’t understand how to use it. I"ll look at it again, having purchased DTPro

I understand this argument, but it still would be nice :slight_smile:

I’ll give this feature another look. I wasn’t impressed when I first tried it, though

Thanks for the reference. It appears to be priced a bit more attractively than Dreamweaver. I downloaded it after seeing your comment and I’m still evaluating if it is right for me.

I’d really like to use DTPro for this purpose too …

The other thing about Rapidweaver, is there is a very active community of users (like this forum) for any questions you may have.

Good luck