Proposal regarding the export to HTML feature

Hello,

I have a proposal regarding the export to HTML feature.

In the current implementation an export will create a folder hierarchy with documents in HTML format as leave nodes.

I would like to have a different way of exporting DT databases (or parts thereof):

What I need is basically a web site representing a read-only version of the DT database. A web site with two or three frames, one frame showing the outline, another frame showing the content of a selected document, and yet another frame showing document properties such as my comments or an URL. Mimicking the display options of DT itself.

Ideally that web site would offer two options for a document, view it online or download it.

Does that sound like a reasonable request?

Best regards,
/Markus.

Markus:

Yes, that’s pretty much the dream system for HTML that several users have suggested. Especially in the academic sector, users have wished they could share resources with students and colleagues.

What would be missing, of course, are many special features of DEVONthink Pro, such as searches, See Also – and of course, editing and adding content.

Now, put all that together with still more features and think of the enterprise edition of DT, which will come in the future. (And will be used primarily on LANs, I suspect.)

Of course, for public distribution on the Web, the ability to select subsets of a database would be critical. In my case, were I to broadcast my database on the Internet, I would immediately receive cease and desist orders from several scientific journals and other copyright holders! There always seem to be complications for what I’d like to do. :slight_smile:

Hi Bill,

I don’t think that it would be overly complex to implement a “web-based read-only DT”. Sharing documents (including my annotations to a given document) is essential for me. Search capabilites of the generated web site would be nice to have but not essential.

The more I deal with DT the more I like it but I get the feeling that at this moment it is not what I am looking for. Given the delay in delivering the pro version I am not really comfortable with waiting for yet another version, that may or may not fulfill my requirements.

I was planning to use DT as a repository for documents that are relevant across projects and use CP NoteBook for project specific things. Being able to publish my work to the web is essential for me. Well, I guess I will stay with CP NoteBook for my upcoming gig.

Thanks,
/Markus.

Markus:

The “wrapper” you are looking for is hyperlinking. Both static and Wiki links are honored in DEVONthink Pro’s HTML conversion. For example, I can open the new DT Pro Tutorial Database and (in Vertical Split view), select all the files and groups in the left column. Then select File > Export > as Web site. Save the site to a new target folder. Now open that folder and click on the “Welcome to DEVONthink Pro.html” file. Hey! The database was turned into a complete Web site; everything is there!

By the way, DT Pro can also save a database as read-only onto a CD or DVD for distribution. In this case, the user would have to have a copy of DT Pro. (But only a browser, of course, to view the HTML conversion.)

So you can already do what you were talking about, very easily. Hyperlinking (as in the DEVONthink Pro Tutorial Database) is the trick.

And although the developers held off on releasing DT Pro until they were satisfied with it, they have been making frequent incremental updates to DT PE and will do that as well for DT Pro. The next wait will be for DEVONthink Enterprise Edition.

By the way, it’s very easy to extract just the material you would like to put onto a Web site by exporting it from one database and importing it into another. Then do your hyperlink magic with an introductory topmost page and you are where you wanted to be. Here’s how quick and dirty it can be: Create a topmost page, turn on automatic Wiki linking, and then create a list of the pages and files you wish to link to by copying and pasting (or dragging their names from their Info field) into the list as you go.

I’ll end with my customary warning about the potential legal problems of copyrighted material publicly available on the Web. It’s so easy to do, now!

Hope this helps.

Just for grins, I’ll post a conversion of the DT Pro Tutorial Database as a Web site. Will post the URL later today. Note: Some of the included files are Web Archives and may require Safari (or DEVONagent or DT Pro) to view them.

Hi Bill,

just tried your trick with the help db. Works like a charm and should cover what I want to do. Well, I should do more RTFM before complaining.

Thanks,
/Markus.

Thanks, Markus.

Here’s the temporary URL for the Tutorial conversion to HTML:
homepage.mac.com/wbdeville/DT_Tu … 20Pro.html

How about that for unexpected power?

That’s very nice, thanks for pointing that out Bill – shows that DT Pro has nice HTML possibilities already. I believe that Markus was initially onto something else though, which I’d like to request for future development:
I do think that a basic HTML export option that would retain the Group/Doc interaction, such as in the vertical split view could be done and add even further power to the HTML export options. Though I’m not a programmer, I believe vertical splits are not that difficult in HTML. CP NoteBook does this beautifully which allows the user, in HTML, to navigate through pages by using a sidebar – hyperlinks in the body of text are just extras and not even needed to access everything. If DT could export Groups and Docs as something along the lines of the vertical split view, it would make HTML export and use even easier I think, allowing users to create sites with built-in navigation via the sidebar without the need to create table of contents pages and all those hyper-links. Make sense? This is a feature I would like to request, and am sure others would find it immensely useful for quickly sharing info in their DT databases with others.

I must admit that my initial and naive expectation was completely different. I assumed that the web site would mirror the structure I create in DT. I did not expect a requirement for manual intervention in order to link folders together.

I learned that I can impose structure and linkeage of the web site by using RTF documents and linking within DT. I have mixed emotions after playing with it for a day. It gives me a lot of control over what I want to publish but a lot of effort is required to create and maintain the links. Maintainance effort is a concern for me because I have to assume significant churn for some areas.

I am not yet convinced that DT Pro is the way to go.

Cheers,
/Markus.

Are you using the wiki-linking capabilities? If you name your documents as you would like the names of your html pages to be, then use those exact names within your pages (I usually copy and paste them), and save those pages, the links are formed automatically (as long as wiki is turned on in preferences).

ChemBob

Markus:

ChemBob made an important point.

We used static links in the Tutorial Database instead of Wiki links, because that eliminated a potential problem for users – not having automatic Wiki linking turned on in DT Pro preferences. It is a bit more work to create static links instead of Wiki links (although there are times when that extra work is justified). Of course, the choice of static links was because the Tutorial Database is an actual DT Pro database. If it had been designed from the outset as a Web presentation, using Wiki links in many instances would have saved a little time.

Because Wiki links are simply the names of the linked documents, a pretty complex Wiki-link structure can be put together very quickly. If the document name for a link doesn’t already exist in your database, a new document will automatically be created using the default template, or one you have modified – then you enter information in that new document.

So complex nonlinear reference material that contains both information that’s already in your database and new information that you create in progress (and is also added to your db, by the way) can be assembled in any way you wish. The structure and content are extensible, and special user notes, etc. are easy to fit in. Of course, if you want to create a linear structure, such as a Web book organized by chapters/sections, that’s also easy to do in DT Pro.

No, the Web site export approach used in this DT Pro example isn’t what you originally had in mind. And there are pros and cons for this and alternative approaches, especially for specific project needs.

But I think the DT Pro approach illustrated here gives users some remarkable and flexible capabilities to generate Web materials ranging from very simple to quite complex structures. With reasonable forethought, Web presentations can be easy to modify and maintain and require no HTML tweaking if the user doesn’t want to get into that.

That said, any comments on weaknesses, or what could be done to make it still better? :question:

Bob & Bill,

thanks for your hints. I was using static links.

Now I am using “Wiki Links” & a file named “Index” in each folder listing the documents I want to share. Pretty cool.

The only issue I have now is with “MS Word” documents. They get translated to HTML and I would prefer to provide the original format. Using PDF instead is a good workaround.

Thanks again,
/Markus.

Markus:

One more thing. Wiki links can use a document’s alias instead of its name. If the alias appears in text, it becomes a Wiki hyperlink. Sometimes this can be useful.

Example: Use “Gibbons” as an alias for “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. Then “Gibbons” will become a clickable link to the referenced book.

Aliases may be entered in the Info panel for a document. Separate multiple aliases by a comma or semicolon (no space needed).

The one problem that I have with wiki links is if there is a document in another completely unrelated folder that has that name (for example “Appendix A”) it forms a link that is not useful at best, very confusing at worst. I wish there was some way to exclude certain folders or an option to turn linking off for a specific bad link, a way to reroute it to a new page by that name (rather than the old one in the wrong folder) or something. Is there a way to do any of this?

ChemBob

I’d like the ability to search for documents containing Wiki links or with aliases.

I ran into the same issue. It would be nice if I could exclude documents or folders from being wiki-linked. At the moment it is more of a cosmetic problem. May be that “MashedWord” is a workaround. If it bothers me too much, I will convert to static links.

BTW DT web sites can be integrated into CP NoteBook generated web sites quite nice.

Cheers,
/Markus.