Possible bug with "comment" and "tags" fields?

I can enter specific information in the “comment” field with documents I’ve imported using (File, Import, Images (with OCR)). However, when I subsequently open the document (Data, Open With…, Adobe Acrobat Professional) and make any modification, such as highlighting some text, and save that modification, the content of my comment field for that document disappears. This is a serious problem for me as I put details about the document’s original source in this field and obviously don’t want that information lost.

Also, the “tags” field is very small and apparently can’t be resized or scrolled. If there are numerous tags, I can only see those on the first two lines; the remainder are below the bottom of the box and I can’t figure a way to see them (such as by tabbing).

I’d appreciate any help or advice to address these concerns. Terrific new (beta) version of DTP!

I believe the comments thing is a problem with OS X and how files are saved.

The tags interface is not yet finished. I’m expecting/hoping for a better solution.

I replicated this problem and think it is a bug. I hope they fix it. Data should never be lost.

Who is “they”?

Some benevolent applications (Word and TextEdit, judging by my little test just now) pay attention to Spotlight comments. Other applications (Acrobat, apparently) don’t. Depending on how an application behaves when saving, it may or may not save the Spotlight comments to the file. When DEVONthink indexes a file, it reads its Spotlight comments, which become the “Comments” you see when you Show Info on that file. So should DEVONthink keep internal copies of that Comment and apply it to the file whenever it next reads it?

But many other programs that people use with DEVONthink use Spotlight comments to tag the file or add metadata. So should DEVONthink apply its internal comments only if there are no Spotlight comments at all?

This very problem is the reason why we don’t have arbitrarily extensible metadata in DEVONthink yet. Apple can implement something like Spotlight comments, or they can use something like xattrs, but the end result is still that misbehaving applications can and will frequently screw things up because, ironically, of the mechanisms we have put in place to prevent data loss (many applications save a document to a temporary file and then move the temporary file to the pre-existing document’s location and name so that if an error occurs while writing out the file, the previous version is still intact). There’s no way to attach metadata to a file that is guaranteed to remain intact after being opened and saved by one or two random applications, no matter who the developer might be.

“They” is DEVONtech. I may be wrong, but I do not believe that comments in DEVONthink are the same as Spotlight Comments. When you import from the Finder DT copies Spotlight comments in the DT comments as a convenience, but thereafter the two are different. Try this: create an RTF note in DT, add comments, save it, then select “Show in Finder” from the contextual menu in DT, then select Info in the Finder on that document = no Spotlight comments. Go back to DT and comments are still there in DT. The two are different. I think that once a file is in DT the comments field in DT should remain untouched by external editing. If I had not archived DT v1 I would try it now to see if this has changed, but it would take too much time to resurrect it. The reason that this is a bug, no matter the reason, is that data entered into the database should never be erased without warning when doing an action (“Open Externally”) that is supported by that application. Databases that can lose data without warning have a problem.

The comments for the files that are “in” the database are also stored in the DEVON_storage files or whatever they’re called. If you re-save via an external editor and it blows away the comments… there you have it. It’s a new file. Unfortunately, this is not an easy thing to solve, the external applications are re-writing the metadata and blowing a lot of it away.

WTF? Apparently I screwed up somewhere, because I tried this while writing my earlier post and it worked as I described. I was using DEVONnote, which might conceivably make a difference…

Well, I’ve tried it a couple different times with both apps, and I can’t seem to replicate what I described earlier. What happened for me was that I opened an RTF file, gave it a DEVONnote comment, saved it, opened it in TextEdit, added and deleted a space, saved it, checked the Spotlight comments, opened it in Word, added and deleted a space, saved it, and then finally opened it again in DEVONnote and checked the comments and they were there.

But I can’t replicate what I thought was proper function, so I can only assume that I added the Spotlight comment at some point even though it was completely stupid to do so. Sorry. I should have been more rigorous with my experimentation :frowning:

I’d agree. I came across a similar bug with Rebuild Database… where the Comments weren’t preserved in 1.2 or 1.3 or so, and although I reported the bug and it was fixed, I sort of swore Comments off for good.

As far as this sort of thing is concerned, I’m going to always want DEVONthink to have the authoritative copy of all information… which might annoy some people, but oh well.

Anyway, thanks for straightening me out.

If, for whatever reason that may be out of DEVONtech’s control, the comments cannot be preserved when opening in an external editor, then a warning dialog should pop up when you choose the Edit Externally command saying “Warning: Editing in an external editor will remove all Comments from the Comments field. Do you want to proceed?” It can have one of those little checkboxes with text that says “Do not show this warning again” next to it so once you’ve learned your lesson you don’t have to be bothered anymore.

But, that said, I think DEVONtech might be able to make this work. I have filed a bug report ticket, so will see what the authorities say on this issue.

I got a response back from Christian on my bug ticket, it reads:

So, there you have it. Good to know it will be fixed.