'Open in GoodReader' messes up the name of the PDF

I read about a workflow where one uses DTTG as one’s PDF repository, but can use an app like GoodReader to annotate the PDF via ‘Open In…’ and then later send it back to DTTG.

The annotation part and sending to and fro actually works, except for the PDF from GoodReader ending in the Global Inbox instead of the original folder. I can live with that, but a bigger problem is that the name of the file is changed to a long string of characters ending in ‘.PDF’ when sending from DTTG to GoodReader. Anyone else seeing this? Is this a GoodReader problem or a DTTG problem? Or is it my system? (I have an iPad Air with newest possible software for everything.)

This is the way “round-tripping” a document from DTTG to another app and back again works. The “long string of characters’” is your database’s unique identifier for that document. It looks like this


Ugly? Yes. But without that string when you send a document back to DTTG from GoodReader or some other app, there would be no way for DTTG to recognize that the incoming document is an updated copy of a document that already exists in the database, and then replace the older copy with the newer one.

Thanks for the explanation, Korm. I also realised that I had made some incorrect assumptions: I had assumed that the character string (unique identifier) would sync back to GTTD as the name of the document, but I now see that this is not the case.

So, if one wants to have GoodReader only as an annotation tool, it works with some limitations, like not being able to see the annotations (highlights, notes etc.) in DTTG, but only in Dt on a Mac. And one can’t search the annotations even on a Mac, which is a long-standing issue, I think.

All this makes me wonder, whether anyone has devised a viable workflow for annotating documents (PDF or other format) on an iPad, and then syncing them back to DEVONthink in a searchable format?

I cannot answer/provide suggestions for all your queries, but since I do the same as you, figured I would pop a few points up.

I replicate the particular files I want annotated, into my Sync folder. When all is done (i.e. the annotating in Goodreader), I simply sync back to DTP, and work from there… I have yet to come across your file name issue, as you have described. Not sure why I’m dodging that particular bullet, possibly due to my using the replicate option, but all my files maintain their names in DTP.

The PDF name change is reflected in Goodreader, but I am careful to import from DTTG into Goodreader 1 by 1, so I never really have an issue getting confused - as soon as I’m finished with the annotation - it gets sent back to DTTG - and in the latter, I change the label colour to indicate that it has indeed been annotated, since the annotations are not visible in DTTG.

When I then sync back to DTP, the changes (annotations etc.) are reflected in all the files that were then changed, in the particular sync folder. Next, I do a quick spot-check to ensure that the same changes have been reflected on the ‘original’ files that are still all in their ‘original’ locations [this is probably unnecessary - but I still like to make sure] - and then I simply delete all the replicants in the sync folder…

With the replicants deleted, the original files (now reflecting all the annotation changes made in Goodreader) are now the only instance of the file - and I have managed to make all the necessary annotation changes without having to move any files anywhere in particular - since the replication took care of everything.

Regarding the ability to search annotated notes/comments - one thing I have noticed, but have yet to properly explore - is the following:

Goodreader has a “summary” option - it’s the button in the middle of the toolbar at the bottom, it looks like an open book, for lack of a better explanation. Tapping that button, brings up a summary of all Bookmarks, Outlines or Annotations that have been added to the pdf. It’s the latter one that is obviously of interest.

The summary can be emailed.
When this is done, a few things become apparent –

Any annotation that is inserted into one of those pop-up text blocks, is described in the following manner in the emailed summary:

"Note (colour #F41243), 26 Jan 2014, 11:08, NC:" 

** [Note] is the keyword that is added by Goodreader automatically, each time the pop-up text annotation button is used;
** [(colour #F41243)] obviously refers to the particular colour of the pop-up text box, as selected.
** The date and time is automatic.
** [NC] are my initials, as entered in General Settings/Viewing PDF Files/Author for PDF Annotations/Author.

The above presents some possibilities, imo.

Were you to change the Author name to something readily identifiable - i.e. GoodReaderAnnotXYZ or whatever, that would appear in the emailed summary, as text, immediately proceeding your inserted comment.

If you used the live-links in DTP, to link the emailed annotation summary back to the particular PDF, one could then simply search for that particular Author description, along with one or two keywords, and you should be able to find your comments, and the PDF it is linked to…

The search string needs to be properly designed, since the Author Description is inserted each time a annotation, be it note or highlight or underlined etc. is used - so if one were looking for a specific note, it would probably have to involve ```

“Note” NEAR/5 “GoodReaderAnnotXYZ”

It's probably not ideal - but would appear to be workable. It might even be possible to write some sort of script that could parse the email summary text file for all those instances, and extract it into a new document - but I'm not there yet...

Not sure if the above is widely known or not, but maybe someone will find it useful...

That is an excellent suggested annotation workflow, Cassady. I’ve added your post to my permanent “tips file”.

A few observations:

  1. Cassady’s annotation workflow round-tripping PDFs from DTTG to GoodReader and back will work with may other iOS PDF apps. Over here I’ve been preferring iAnnotatePDF recently more than GoodReader. But the point is that you’re not limited to round-tripping with just GoodReader.
  2. Other possibilities exist for indicating documents that have been annotated and finding them later in DEVONthink desktop:
  • After annotating the document and sending it back to DTTG, use the Comment filed in DTTG to add a text comment – for example, summarizing major points in the PDF. After these comments are synced to the desktop they will show up in DEVONthink as Spotlight Comments – which DEVONthink desktop as well as Spotlight are able to search.
  • More formally, instead of freeform comments, put tags into the Comment field and separate them by commas or semicolons. After the document is synced back to DEVONthink desktop use the script Script > Comments > Convert to Tags to add the tags to the document. This overcomes DTTG’s limitation where you cannot change document tags.
  • Change the file name of annotated documents in DTTG to add a prefix, suffix, or infix that indicates the document’s annotation status and date (just for example). Then you can sort and search on this portion of the name to locate the work or status or the work.

Hi Cassady & Korm, I’ll be looking into these in more detail. Thanks for suggestions!