Original Design Purpose of DevonThink

I’d be very interested in hearing the original vision or purpose for DevonThink.

Seems like a lot of people want to use it as a Finder-replacement while other use it differently.

What was it originally designed to do and for who? Has the original vision changed?

Scott C.

The original goal was to develop a knowledge base and information manager especially for journalists (we’re journalists and writers too) or scientists.

At the moment the goal is to develop a central repository for as many data types and usage scenarios as possible - e.g. note taking, outlining, multimedia management, text editing, writing etc. as DT has the potential to replace lots of applications (the Finder, Preview/Acrobat Reader, text editors, notepads, outliners, multimedia managers like iPhoto or iView, freeform databases etc.).

DA and DT Pro will increase this potential and hopefully will be able some day to replace browsers, RSS readers, site suckers or download managers too.

To make a long story short:
We think DT and DA could be the portal to any information - no matter if this information is located on your harddisc or in the Internet.

I like this answer a lot.  I also like your answer to a separate question elsewher on this forum where you state that you want to make sure that DT doesn’t become bloatware, trying to be all things to all people.

As soon as I began to "get" DT, I saw it as a Finder supplement/replacement.  (In an ideal world, Apple would buy DT engine and integrate it into the OS).  I still see it that way.  Conceptually, and in practise, I like the idea of separate, small applications – almost utilities – that work with the DT base to perform useful operations to the knowlegebase; e.g. text editing, outlining, image management, calendar and contact management, etc.  

That’s why, to me, the utility of DT increases almost exponentially with each new file format supported (sorta like Metcalf’s Law in network theory).

A final thought: are you familar with the "old" BeOS File System?  I never saw it in action, but from description, it sounds like DT could be bridging that gap in Mac OS.



Interesting thread, I am also thinking of DT as the way the finder should be (will become ?). It is interesting to see you mentioning BeOS. I have never seen or used it myself, by I really like the idea myself. It just happens too often that I would need a file in several places at once to preserve the logic of my filesystem, e.g. I need a picture in my pictures-folder and at the same time in my project-folder. I know i could copy or link it, but I prefer the way DT does it, esp. since I have additional features like searching PDF’s etc.
The problem I see with DT is that it is not very easy to tie other apps to it. Doesn’t DT just shout for a way to publish stuff dynamically on the net ? Maybe similar to “Blosxom” which recursively scans the directories and subdirectories to finally generate a webpage on the fly.
The other thing would be to have an app, or DT itself to generate reports or documents which are just shuffled together in DT, either statically like I could do now e.g. in Word, but even better dynamically.
In general I am looking forward to Applescript support, as this seems to be a way to get DT out of isolation and let it talk with other apps.
Did anybody point Steve Jobs to this app ?  :P

Microsoft is looking to add DevonThnk type functionality to the next major version of Windows. I am with the previous posters that think that Apple should license Devon’s engine for adding this type of functionality in the Mac OS.

However, I doubt that this will happen. The reason being the original purpose of Sherlock was something similar. A single place to go to find whatever you wanted on your hard drive. I still remember the pre-release demonstrations of Sherlock and Inkwell. That was back when Apple was still catering to resellers.

That being said, I think there is a wonderful opportunity for Devon to place its software into the hands of a very large audience. However, to do that before Apple incorporates similar functionality into the OS, they will need to get very, very aggressive with the marketing. For example, their current pricing and marketing schemes seem to ignore the education market…specifically the poor college student and the K-12 market (yes, I am thinking specifically of the only education market I know–the USA market.) If possible, Devon should create a bundle with Apple on their education store. They should create QuickTime tutorials that make it easy to instruct the teachers and students in specifically how use DevonThink in the classroom.

I double that request:

How about a free DevonThink light version ?
I would pay more for the Pro-edition to support that (hope it comes soon, as I hardly use the PE edition because of its limitations :-/ )
Esp. the bundling idea is great, apps like omnioutliner gained a lot by being bundled.

There will be a "Light" version but this version will neither be free nor called DEVONthink. Should be available shortly after the release of DEVONthink pro.

Early on, the web site made reference to an "Enterprise" version, which I gather was a networked, client/server version of DT.  I can think of many markets this might server.  Is this still planned?

Although more and more people are interested in this edition lately, we’re not quite sure if there’s already enough interest to focus lots of resources on such a huge project. However, we still plan to introduce this edition next year (DT Pro/“Light” will come this year, DT 2.0 in Q1/04).

VoodooPad does a kind of local Wiki… if DEVONthink could expose a HTTP interface, that would be amazing! Imagine browsing to and getting a Web view of your database!

I think integration could be a great strength of DT; if I could dynamically link-in my friend’s database, expose them both on our intranet, manage my bibliography and expose it as a BibTeX file (hey… would work in LaTeX!), connect DB entries together (link a bib entry to the PDF)… wow.
DT as a personal information server, not just an app!

And it could be useful having different frontend interfaces to DEVON backend databases for content storing and retrieval, with simultaneous access.

Right now I only have one Mac but will soon have one or two more.  As I understand it one way to share a database is to put it on a network volume and create aliases (or symlinks?) to it from other systems, then limit access to only one system at a time.  Another (more tedious) way is to archive, move, and restore the database for local access on each system.

I’m curious if anyone has experience doing this sort of database sharing and what advice or warnings they might have to offer.

Thanks for the suggestion - might be a good idea for the Enterprise Edition.

There’s only one warning - don’t copy databases from one computer to another while the application is still running.

I hope I have enough experience with computers by now to know better than to do that. :wink:

I was asking now because I’m still a bit anxious aftter the recent (tho’ minor) trouble I had moving the database from Jaguar to Panther.  I’m thinking of retrying that tomorrow to see what the result is.