Seeking best practices for note taking and journaling that leverages DT3 (and mimic transclusion similar to roamresearch)

Have been storing my notes and many files in DT3 for the last few months. However,

  • my notes are not interlinked (interlinking requires me to select another note in DT3 and copy a link and paste that link in my note).
  • even after interlinking, the link is to the other file in DT3 without the ability to preview that file in a side panel

Over the last few hours I watched a few videos showing what people are doing with roamresearch and it is fascinating.

And I wondered if something along those lines is possible with DT3 and if needed another software but ideally using simple file formats (markdown ideally).

Thank you.

Edit: Updated the title to use the phrase “transclusion”. It has been referred to here - Thoughts on migrating from Ulysses and here is the wikipedia page for Transclusion page.


This is not exactly what you are asking for, but you can create a bookmark with the URL for a Roam note and then Roam Research will work within the DT3 browser.

Thanks for the reply. Yes that is possible, but the idea was to see if the interlinking that Devonthink enables can be leveraged using another software (likely editor) that allows for offline data. May be even Devonthink editor because then auto-completion works.

But roamresearch just seems to have a very low hurdle way of capturing text and then allowing that text to interlink across days and across topics.

Do you take notes and if so where? May be that is topic - as to how do

  • members here take notes, write journals and how do they integrate DT3 in their system?

You probably want to take a look at @Bernardo_V’s return links/back links scripts. Playing with them is on my to-do list, but they can be used to create the kind of mesh/graph-based linkages you’re looking for.


I use just plain searches as adding and modifying links is just a lot of work which is a distraction from the actual brainpower needed to write.

VoodooPad has this nice feature of automatically create links for pages with title strings used in other page – but frankly speaking I seldom used that as well.

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@ryanjamurphy thanks for the link to the script. the script is interesting and is indeed in the direction of one of the things that roamresearch enables.

@ksandvik I considered doing the linking manually, and it is just not possible, at least for me.

so I started using roamresearch yesterday and have to say that it is fluid. and very useful for anybody who wants to take notes, do some journaling, capture thoughts and ideas and be able to link them and refer to them easily in the future.

why am I posting it here? because, I believe Devonthink (DT) is the ideal software to enable it. I visualize how a similar interface can be enabled as a part of DT and that interface then

  • enables daily journaling similar to roamresearch - data for this journaling is stored in a backend database, and this database allows linking to files within DT with ease (files exist in the same program)
  • devonthink can also regularly create markdown pages for all the “auto-created from tags” pages and save them in a read only folder so that the data is in the file system for those of us who may want to search using Spotlight
  • this makes the journaling secure and offline which is how it should be
  • and makes DT an even more powerful ally in information management and retrieval
  • another note that DT already has - tags and hierarchical tags - so tags that are referred to such a journaling system within DT3 can have their own auto-created pages. those auto-created pages can have a separate section even for files with that tag

I call upon @BLUEFROG, @cgrunenberg and @eboehnisch to try out roamrearch, if they have not already, and then consider how DT can become more powerful if it has a free flow, low hassle journaling system built into it, one that leverages the information that DT already houses. and while I am at it, thank you for your work on Devonthink!


IMHO, a simple setup may achieve the basic functions of what you need - i.e. connecting the notes in DT.

A possible set up is as follow:
(1) Set up a specific set of tags for tagging your notes. Bear in mind that tagging is just one of the possible means.
(2) Activate wiki link to using Square Brackets [[…]] and “All Items”.

(3) Tag your existing notes by related tags. This is to categorise the info content in those notes.

Once steps (1) to (3) are done, when you are writing/creating a new note, add the relevant categories of info (represented by the tags) in [[…]], the tag will match with your typing. In fact, the items in those double brackets can be document or group, too.

If you command-click on any one of those links, all related notes under the tag will be displayed. If all notes are tagged appropriately and you keep enriching the note content with relevant tags from a well designed set of tags, you will gradually build up a mesh of connection. Admittedly those connected notes (by tags) can not be merged and viewed as one single document like Room Research or Scrivener in a dynamic manner, but you get your basic connection up and running.

Disclaimer: I don’t use this method. But IMHO it “may” serve the basics.

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@ngan that is a good idea. I tried something like this for some time. I added hash tags in the document, and DT adds those tags to the document. So far so good.

Sounds like if I do wiki link style tagging, I can get to the screen where the tagged content shows up.

The part that roamresearch does and that would be very valuable to have in DT also is that to only see the portion of the document that is tagged. For this to happen, the document format for notes will have to be such that each line is a node and what not.

I just hope that DT team likes the idea and believes that it will make DT a more powerful product.

however, the part where a separate page gets created for the tag in roamresearch, and that you can see the tagged content and

I am a bit confused.

If you have several documents in DT with the same tag, can’t you just filter on the tag and generate a report with all relevant docs / notes?

You are correct that filter on tag or go to the tag group directly will do the same thing.

But IMHO, my discussion is initiated form the workflow of Roam Research: when a tag is placed within the [[…]] and is placed next to the written words, it is like putting the related (and linked) category of notes (items within the tag) right there for reference. So, I am not suggesting this is a better way for connecting notes. I am merely suggesting a way to mimic the basic features of Roam Research.

The power of how roamresearch does it is that each paragraph is a node and sort of contains its child nodes. So when a node is tagged, all its child nodes are tagged also. And when you click on the tag, you open a page that contains all the tagged nodes (and their child nodes).

That is a powerful thing because when you are taking notes, you can write in a somewhat free flowing manner.

In DT, only the entire file can be tagged and that is what clicking on the tag pulls up.

DT is very powerful, and I think this feature of roam will make it even more powerful for those working with information.

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Thank you both, ngan and mals.

I take mals’ point about roam being able to be paragraph specific. If you extract a note in DT such as a particular paragraph in a PDF, you can include a URL to that specific page/paragraph and add any desired tags.


DT is indeed designed for such information storage and retrieval, and doing this text based system like that of roam, would make it even more powerful.

Not sure if this is useful. But I have been using DT to build a zettelkasten. The name of each note is a link and any time I type that name in any other note, a link is automatically generated to that note. My zettel has now over 1000 notes. I also use it to link to all the other bibs and bobs on my drive. The make link and add link options work a treat.

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I’m beginning to create a “zettelkasten” as well and wondering which one is the best format for my notes: markdown, formatted, rich text?

I am also trying to implement a zettlekasten in DT3. All the big advocates of the method use plain text format like markdown for their zettles, but I also read somewhere that the DT3 is better handling notes in rich text. So it seems that we are in a crossroad. I am inclined to use rich text. The major reason the advocates of the Zettlekasten prefer plain text is relying on a universal format that will never get old. In my opinion rich text is universal enough to not consider it a problem in the long run and will have compatibility with almost any text program.
Roam research is a great piece of software, but it’s still in beta. It’s impossible to know what will become of it in the future. And one of its biggest downsides is the format compatibility. It’s unclear yet how they will handle notes export. And their use of nodes, links and backlinks is great but is so specific to that software that it will be impossible to use in another software.


Welcome @miguelalfayate

I also read somewhere that the DT3 is better handling notes in rich text.

You should make this decision for yourself, not based on something you read somewhere. I write in Markdown - even long form documents - every single day in DEVONthink. It’s more than capable in my opinion, but again you need to test and decide on your own.


Yes, go for Markdown.

My own personal reason I use it is to avoid putzing and wasting time with formatting.


And I find it quick enough to type the simple control characters needed for the occasional italic, bold, blockquote, code fence, etc. while I’m typing.

It’s a very light and easy to use format.


Also when you get tired of one Markdown style you could exchange it to another. What I did last night, now suddenly my Pages documents and Markdown documents are close to 1:1 concerning look and feel (headers, body et rest) with a new custom Markdown template css file.

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