req: content in search results; & question about footnot

Hello devs and users,

I am an author currently working on a new book which requires the management of a lot of quotes from books, articles, internet news sites and so on. I’ve been having a look at various tools available and really like the look of DevonThink.

However, one thing I think is really useful about Stickybrain in comparison is that Stickybrain shows you up to three lines of each document’s content right in the search-results field: ie, it will show you the surrounding context of the part of the document where the search criteria first hit. Maybe I’m missing something but at the moment in DT I can’t figure out how to see what part of the content of the document is relevant without clicking on the document title in the search results field: so I can only see one at a time. It’s clearly much more useful (for the use I envisage at least) to see the contents that the search has found “at a glance” in all flagged documents. Is it possible to add this feature to DevonThink? It strikes me that the slightly strange way in which Steven Johnson arranges his information (full quote as document title, folder as book title, etc) would not be so necessary if this feature were available.

Secondly, has anyone found a way of integrating use of DevonThink with management of footnotes? At the moment I have a lot of Microsoft Word documents with heavily endnoted sources that I’d like to transfer into DevonThink; however DT’s conversion process loses all the note numbering. Ideally I’d love for DevonThink to be able to import a .doc with numbered footnotes and all, to have everything searchable within one database. But in the meanwhile is there a good workaround?

Thanks for any help!

Regarding seeing the surrounding context within the search results: I would like to see this as an option as well. I too really liked this about StickyBrain and found it helped me to click on the “right” note/doc quicker.


Hello again! Don’t want to be annoying, but I’d really appreciate an answer to the content-in-search-results question from any Devon folk. If the answer’s a simple “no”, I’ll just go away. :slight_smile:


Sorry, I’m a newbie myself, but I also miss this feature. Hog Bay Notebook used to have it and now it has disappeared from that program after the author changed searched engines.

It is a great feature for us writers. I have the same information management needs as Wittgenstein (is your name really Wittgenstein, or is it a reference to the philosopher?).

I am also quite interested in the footnote question.

Btw, I DT has some really powerful features, especially when matched up with the search capabilities of DEVONagent.




[1] Similar requests for partial content views of search hits have been made in the past, and as I recall the developers have that somewhere on the list of possible features.

[2] Yes, loss of endnote numbering in imports of Word documents is frustrating. This problem may be resolved (I can’t be sure) with Apple’s improved Cocoa text routines when Tiger is released.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of workarounds:

[a] “Print” the Word document as a PDF file, and import this into DT. The PDF file itself retains footnotes and endnotes, with numbering intact.

[b] Convert the Word file to HTML, then import the HTML into DT.

[3] Future versions of DT will be compatible with some citation databases, such a BibText.

Hi Bill,
Many thanks for your helpful reply. It’s good to know that this search function is being considered, but I guess I won’t hold my breath…

Meanwhile thanks for the advice on workarounds for footnotes - not ideal, in the sense that either way I won’t automatically be selecting the footnote text along with a paragraph, but better than nothing for the moment!

I can see that if I was starting from scratch with DT I could figure out a better way to handle this, but I would submit that DT could attract more users if it gave people a very easy and transparent way to migrate from what is, for all its horribleness, the most popular word-processing program - do you agree?

In a thoroughly ideal world, actually, I could continue to work in my Word documents after importing them to DT, and DT would automatically update its database copies of them every time they changed - does that seem feasible?

And to Alexandria: good to know someone else shares the same needs, and my name isn’t really Wittgenstein: I just admire old Ludwig. :wink:

I’ll add my voice to those who would like this feature as well. I also note that DEVONthink cannot at present highlight text in PDFs, so when one finds a result in a PDF file, one is stuck looking through every page trying to find the term of interest. I know that this features is at least possible, as both Adobe Reader and Preview can do so.

Yes, it is possible - for Adobe and Apple. :slight_smile:

At last, in the Tiger OS release, Apple will provide developers “hooks” that will give them access to some of Apple’s proprietary code for Preview.

When I’m viewing a PDF, I prefer Preview over Acrobat, especially for Preview’s neater search features. I’ve told the Finder to open PDFs in Preview instead of Actobat.

Wittgenstein, DEVONthink uses Apple’s Cocoa text for RTF documents. Apple has promised to make RTF more compatible with Word documents with the release of the Tiger OS.

In other words, Apple is coming up with lots of goodies that they hope will persuade people to pay for the Tiger upgrade (I’ll buy it!). :smiley:

In the meantime – especially for large PDF files – I launch them in Preview and enter a search term in Preview’s drawer.

“And to Alexandria: good to know someone else shares the same needs, and my name isn’t really Wittgenstein: I just admire old Ludwig.”

I figured as much! I admire him as well. My advisor in grad school taught Wittgenstein and I read his autobiography during that time. A very interesting figure!!