Palm Synchronization & Menubar Search


I’ve been comparing DEVONthink with StickBrain 3 recently, and I have to say I’m torn. DEVONthink’s ability to handle Word, PDF, and HTML is a heavy advantage. However, StickyBrain’s ability to sync notes with my Palm (as of version 3.1, just out) is pretty compelling to me, too. SB’s “Flashnote” menubar search is also pretty darn convenient.

If DT could add Palm synchronization – perhaps a special folder whose contents were two-way synchronized with my Palm’s memos – I’d be thoroughly sold. Add something like Flashnote, and I’d be delirious.

Thanks for listening.


We’re already in talks with a Palm OS developer. Don’t expect Palm synching too early, but we’re working on it.



Glad to hear it! I await eagerly.



Palm synchronization, cool!

I cast my vote for this too, exactly as described above. Nothing fancy, just a simple group that could be synched two-way with the Palm memo’s. That’s all I need, not a full DT Palm app…

I’m also in favor of a simple Palm/DT “synch” solution.

Btw, I noticed the “Which mobile devices should DEVONthink/DEVONnote support?” survey on the DEVONtech home page today. “Palm OS handheld” leads iPod by a healthy margin, with “Spend your energy somewhere else” close behind in third. Had there been a survey about adding RSS support to DT I’d probably have voted for that third category since I’m quite happy using NetNewsWire, but now that it’s there I’m inspired to find ways it could be useful in addition to NNW. :slight_smile:

Well, there are some useful scenarios, e.g. I’m reading the latest forum posts via DT Pro and its three-pane view :slight_smile:

Usually using triggered scripts so that all postings are automatically archived and I’m able to find similar postings via “See Also” (some developer mailing lists are read/archived the same way).

But sometimes I prefer to view all of the latest postings on one page and just use the “on-the-fly” conversion of RSS/RDF/Atom feeds to HTML (that may sound a little bit strange but is basically identical to the RSS support of Safari 2.0)

I used to belong to the “one information manager” school of thought. You know, “Just dump everything into Our Wonder Application and it’s taken care of”. This raised the danger of bloated applications and a slew of conflicting feature requests. You would want Our Wonder Application to hold every type of information and manipulate it in every way. I now believe that you should keep your information in different applications, depending on what you want to do with it.

Sticky Brain 3 is superb for Palm/iPod synching and rapid access from the desktop (“Flashnote”). So I withdraw my old requests for those features. DT has no need to hold rapidly accessed and portable scraps of information. Why would you ever want to put the directions to someone’s house into DT ? By the way, people are requesting DT’s features in Sticky Brain, which is just as misguided.

Tinderbox is superb for blogging, HTML export, and mind-mapping (arranging your notes into structures visually). There’s no need to request this in DT.

I don’t have to tell you all the things DT is superb at, just that it ain’t the things above. Accepting this has helped me be better organized, and will make DT easier to develop and market.

So two new feature requests in DT’s own mission, as I see it:

1.) Render tables. People send me Windows Word documents with tables, and I’d like to be able to throw them into DT, have them look good, and be able to do all the DT magic on them. Without buying Word for Mac.

2.) Manipulate outlines. Right now, if I have an outline, I either have to keep it outside DT or give up hope of updating it as an outline.

Thanks for letting me pontificate. I’d love to hear all your thoughts. And of course, the developers will have the final say on their product.

Has that made it any easier to keep track of unread topics/posts that lose their unread status between sessions? It’s become frustrating leaving a forum session for a few hours and returning to find it’s been logged out, with all previously unread topics no longer that way after logging in again. Managing unread topics in the old YaBB forum was much easier since they remained that way between sessions. I sent a PM to Eric about that and a couple other forum usability issues a few days ago but haven’t gotten feedback yet.

I may give that a try.

Thanks for the suggestions!

In general, I want information available to different applications, not kept by them. As a database, DEVONthink is an exception to that but it’s effective for me in an “information conduit” role.

Rapidly accessed doesn’t necessarily imply portable, and vice versa.

I wouldn’t, but I’m sure someone has a reason. :slight_smile:

Some of us may like a subset of those features, without having to tackle yet another entire application, especially one as complex (and expensive) as Tinderbox.

Not every document I save in DT has an optimal location within its hierarchical group structure so I care less about filing certain items and just rely on searches to find them. I’d like a few more ways to correlate items and manage their relationships, without being as constrained by specific group boundaries.

There’s interest from people wanting to glue PDF documents and corresponding text layers into a single “meta-document”. I’d like to see that abstracted further with other document types, if possible. Creative use of Wiki links may already provide some of that functionality but there could be easier ways of doing it.

Two things I personally have no immediate need for. Okay, outlines that supported multiple items could be useful. :slight_smile:

Well, beta 5 will improve this but this should work in beta 4 too:

  1. Create a new group and set the URL of this group to the URL of the forum’s feed
  2. Run the script “Scripts > Feeds > Synchronize - Multple Pages” (will have a different name in beta 5)
  3. Attach the “Synchronize Feeds - Multiple Pages” script to this group to automate updating of this group (checks every 15 minutes for news by default)

This will create HTML pages for every new posting (looking similar to other news readers) and viewing an item automatically marks the item as read (Unread = Unchecked/Red label, Read = Checked/No label). Works fine over here and is basically identical to other news readers (although it’s actually just a demonstration of the scripting facilities of DT Pro)

Tiger will introduce table support for rich text documents and DT Pro will be able to im/export OPML and to export OmniOutliner files. But I’m not sure if that’s what you’ve asked for.


Thanks for your comments, that’s what makes this forum great.

I “get it” what you’re saying about the subsets of features, especially using mindmapping in non-hierachical ways.

I’ve been experimenting a little more with the “groups” panel, and while it doesn’t do what Sticky Brain’s Flashnote does, I can see it getting there someday. Then with Palm sync, there would be no temptation to get Sticky Brain.

Another thing I like about this forum is that you learn about other people’s work flows that give them different perspectives. Can you say a little more about how you would use DT together with Palm ? I’m having a hard time picturing it, because the only things I put on the Palm now are very short stand-alone notes.

I’d also be interested to hear more about having “information available to multiple applications, not kept by them”. Almost all the time, my information “lives” in one place (Mail, iPhoto, iTunes, DT, OmniOutliner, etc.) and I manipulate it there. I figure it’s a manual process to move it and the “home” application has more precise tools, anyhow. How do you make this work ?

I was noticing all the time zones people live in. This is a real 24 hour forum !


Thanks for the good news. Guess I’ll have to get Tiger for the tables ! What I’m dreaming of for the outlines is something like this: lets say I have an outline
I Fruits
A Citrus Fruits
1. Lemons
2. Limes ( I can’t make it look right on the forum, but add the tabs mentally)
Now lets say a couple of weeks later, I want to add Grapefruits to the outline. In OmniOutliner or Appleworks, I just have to hit enter and the item will be created at the right level. I can also expand,collapse, promote, demote and rearrange items with just a click. But if I have the document in DT, I have to do a lot of manual re-arranging of the text. So I have to make a choice between updateable and searchable/classified.

May I be so bold as to say that I have a Group entitled “Directions”. :slight_smile:

birameus, regarding your “wonder app” thoughts:

I have only been using DT a couple months and am still exploring it’s possible uses, but here’s what strikes me on this subject at the time…

I came across DT in the search for an app that would handle me throwing bits of info I need to store at it. (I had been drawn to StickyBrain, but disliked the SB 2 interface.) The problem for me with the usage scenario you proposed above is that I then find myself wondering “where” I stored that piece of info I need to retrieve – was it in DT, StickyBrain, or…? Having DT handle things from the basic (like directions) to more serious data handling makes things easier for me. And being able to sync a folder of “short stand-alone notes” to a Palm would be useful - right now I have to use Palm Desktop, but would much rather have a Group in DT to drag notes in and out of that I want to be on the Palm, would be much easier to manage. As to what these notes are, basically, these are notes that I would like to have “on me” when away from the computer – like directions. :slight_smile:

That said, I also agree in that DT should not try to fill ALL voids. For instance, DT should not try to become a full-fledged word processing program… but a certain amount of word processing features are important and may save some users from ever having to use word processors at all… but anyone with serious text processing will need to use Word, or the like. Thus, DT’s integration with these other apps is important and should continue to be developed.

sjk’s statement above about having a “subset” of features from these other more dedicated purpose apps seems to me to be on the mark – that is, if you can get more than two people to agree what a certain “subset of features” is :slight_smile:


I understand what you’re saying about having to remember which application you put the information in. It’s an extra step, a “tax” if you will, every time you do something.

Now that I think about it, there have always been multiple application users and single application users on this forum. Over on another thread, there’s someone who uses DT along with Notebook and Novamind.

At present, I’m of the multiple application persuasion. It’s worth it to me to pay the “tax” to be able to work on the information with a full set of specialized tools. Maybe someday I’ll decide it’s not worth it and put everything in DT.

Merry Christmas, everyone !

A key point, which is why it’s so important for apple to get on the ball with their database file system. OS X is already pretty good in terms of passing information between apps (e.g, things like the “Services” menu), but hopefully Tiger will open up the world to apps sharing information between each other, because the data will be constant across apps (this isn’t exactly what they are doing, but Tiger is a first step in that direction). Then we can have less “monolithic” programs, and more “transformative” programs. What I mean by that is that apps using the same data or services, yet providing different ways of accessing, manipulating, and transforming the data.

You guys remember OpenDoc (, right? The whole idea there was similar: keep the data constant, but make programs into different services which transform the data in different ways, depending upon the need. It was a great idea that was probably too far ahead of it’s time. The OS had to evolve first before it could be totally useful.

Anyway, getting back to Devonthink, my feeling is that the strength of an information manager is in it’s ability to first (A) access the data and then (B) help the user make sense of the data. That’s why Devonthink’s AI functions are so key, because nobody has them the way Devonthink does. Doing search properly is not just having a text box: it’s about having the freedom to be able to jump around from topic to topic without being bogged down by silly things like whatever the structure of the data happens to be. People don’t think in terms of structure, they think in terms of pictures and how one idea relates to another.

That’s another thing that important: making the information manager model how the brain works. Kind of like a 2nd brain that I can refer to when the collection of data is too in-depth for the memory to recall.

OK. After years of not using a Palm (I had an old Palm III) I’ve purchased a Zire 72s. So I add my voice to the chorus of people wanting some sort of output to Palm from DT. I’ve been brainstorming and planning to setup GTD in DT. It would be nice if I could export the GTD folder to my Palm. The folder will be, I think, folders and rtf documents for the most part with one link using Firefox for the GTDtiddlywiki file on my HD (unfortunately Safari doesn’t support the ‘saving’ that the tiddlywiki does). Being able to Somehow sync this folder between the Palm and the desktop would be great (although I know the browser component could be a problem; maybe I’ll find an alternative).


Time warp. :astonished: My last post here was shortly before my iMac drive failed, then I was off the forum for a few months after that so this thread was forgotten and I never followed up. Oh well.

I just replaced my Tungsten E (broken digitizer) with an E2. While “some sort” of syncing between it and DTPro could be useful I don’t have a specific personal example, like ChemBob’s. Well, there’s this…

The data I’ve most wanted to bi-directionally synchronize is a custom Smart List ToGo movie database on the E2. Unfortunately DataViz has no interest in developing a Mac desktop app and conduit. Even if relevant data were saved in a DTPro there’s no way to import it into SLTG. And the portable, specialized SLTG db is the primarily useful one (e.g. at video rental stores).

Right now I don’t foresee DTPro having enough specialization for syncing (especially bi-directionally) of data I’d want to share between it and the E2. What I can imagine, though, is syncing between DTPro and other Mac apps that have more specialized, structured syncing with the E2. That type of “proxy syncing” may work fine for me rather than hope for DTPro to support syncing directly.

I am only getting into Devon Think Pro and have yet to be convinced to purchase it. The thing that would swing it for me would be Palm synchronization. Is there any hope of this soon?


As said, we’re already in touch with a Palm OS application developer. We have decided to wait for DEVONthink 2, though, as sychronization can be solved much easier then with the new way our database structure is organized then. But, yes, we definitely plan for a Palm client including conduit.