sheets auto-update / linkback?

Although elsewhere I’ve played down the importance that some people have attached to auto-updating of imported BibTeX sheets, I’ve finally realised why it is after all a big deal.

A few weeks ago, I imported my whole bibliography into DT Pro and put quite a bit of work into giving some records aliases and linking to these aliases from other documents to integrate my bibliography with the rest of my work. Then, because in the meantime my bibliography had grown, I reexported from Bookends and replaced the sheet with a new one.

It was stupid of me not to realise what was going to happen. Of course, all my work with aliases came to nothing because I had deleted the original sheet.

I’m very impressed with the BibTeX import, and I realise that making it better may be a tall order, but is there any way in the future that they could (maybe using LinkBack or similar?) update themselves. I know that Bookends doesn’t support LinkBack yet, but if we knew DT were going to it would give us some possibilities.

Or is there some other way to get around this problem?


There are no current plans for incorporating LinkBack, although I’m sure the developers will keep an eye on how successful that approach may become. As you recognized, both cooperating applications would have to use LinkBack.

I don’t have Bookends, and so can’t play with it to see if there may be workarounds to help solve the problem of updates.

Do other Bookends users on the forum have suggestions?

Not to beat a dead horse, but this feature is something that would prove phenomenal. I have tried to use the Bibtex import as a sheet function, but without a synchronization process with the bibliographic program (Bookends in my case), this feature is largely useless. As mentioned above, any changes to the bibliographic database will erase any aliases (or other manual modifications) created…and how possible is it to use the wiki-link features with the bibliographic entries (which is where the real power of this feature lies) if the full name of a book or article for a wiiki-link?

In a recent thread on Omnioutliner files, as well as in other threads here and in Bookends forums as well as Mellel forums, many (including myself) have mentioned the triad of DTpro + Mellel + Bookends (and, for me, charting and outlining with Omni products), and how central it is for many Mac-using academics, researchers & students. For many, one of the main usages of DTPro is note-taking from readings and research (see the Steven Berlin Johnson article), as well as storing articles & PDF’s; as such, this type of integration would prove amazingly fruitful. While the above-mentioned Omnioutliner thread promises some relief for indexing and searching in Mellel files, for me personally, the greater development would be the bibtex sheet synchronization with Bookends: this would really make DTPro into probably the strongest intelligent research database, and would allow for the DTPro + Bookends + Mellel triad to offer a much stronger alternative to academic Windows-users’ NotaBene.

The upshot of this post: just bumping this discussion to restress its importance to many of us who are using this excellent software! Hopefully, DT Pro synchronization with Bookends through Bibtex sheets might see the light of day at some point. Linkback or otherwise, I hope the request is taken seriously.


Linkback would be great for use with OmniOutliner, obviously. For me, OO is a perfect for project management, task lists, and of course writing outline-style prose. DTPro is perfect for hoarding information for later retrieval. In my quest to build the perfect outboard brain, I am thinking about DTPro as being the outer shell, which would contain every OmniOutliner item, along with a whole lot of other stuff. As mentioned in the other thread, indexing and aliasing to OO documents is a great start… but Linkback would also open up intriguing possibilities.

Christian noted yesterday that it may become possible to Index-import Mellel and OmniOutliner files in an upcoming version. Which is to say that DT Pro would be “aware” of the text contents of those document types for purposes of searching and analysis. (Possibly a DT Pro version 2.0 feature.)

And, beginning with the soon-to-be-released DT Pro 1.1, the behavior of DT Pro for files imported in the Index mode will improve. Phrase searches will work, and one-way synchronization from the external file to the DT Pro database becomes a simple matter. Of course you can’t edit the text of such a document inside DT Pro, but you can launch the document under its native application, make changes and save them. The revised text content will display in your DT Pro document, courtesy of synchronization! (I’m using a beta of 1.1 and am really pleased!)

Such synchronization of Index-imported content in DT Pro would seem to achieve the objective of those requesting Linkback.

Hopefully this carries promise. In the Bookends forum, I brought up the topic of automatic updating of references between Bookends & Devonthink Pro. I asked Jon, the developer of Bookends:

As is his wont, he replied extremely quickly and was open to the idea, saying:

So, Chirstian, Bill, Eric, whomever…I know you got your hands tied with developments in 1.1 and 2.0, but – since the developer of Bookends himself has proven open to the idea – do you think this is something that can be looked into?

And, for the sake of knowing its worth, anyone else out there in this forum who would be interested in this?

Of course! Actual direct integration between Bookends and DT Pro, of whatever form the two teams of developers can cook up, would be great (where team means a group larger than zero (’:)’) ) .

But just a reminder that the original question wasn’t a specific Bookends/DT Pro one (though I think the way I worded it led Bill to interpet it as such), but really a question about sheets. That is, a sheet is a kind of mini-database in itself, and it is natural that records will from time to time be added. In the case of sheets of bibliographic data, since we need the extra features that our specialized reference management software gives us, that isn’t going to happen directly in DT Pro. Hence, we need DT Pro to be able to update the content of the sheet in some way, rather than replacing it or importing a new similar sheet, thus rendering worthless any work we have done to integrate the sheet into the database as a whole.

Knowing practically nothing about software development, here’s a question for Bill: Is this conceptually the same discussion as the OmniOutliner files one linked to by talazem? Or does the fact that we’re dealing with sheets mean it’s a separate issue?

At the moment it’s hard to tell if there will be support for Bookends in the near future - some users request support for Bookends, some for EndNote, some for Sente. And of course all of them say that xyz is the best solution :wink: But it will definitely not be part of an 1.x release.

Well, for what it’s worth, the developer of Bookends is willing to cooperate. That’s one. The other is that I personally love DT, Bookends, Mellel, Omni, and the like, because of their fabulous personal relations with their users & their dedication to the Mac community, producing software of quality higher than some of the non-Mac-specific big boys. So: Mac developers, stand together! :wink:

Honestly, I switched a few months ago from PC to Mac as a result of DT Pro, the other excellent Mac software (Bookends, Mellel, etc.), the fact that they were all unicode compliant, and that the Mac OS X system allows for good integration and interaction between software using services & scripts. The Bookends-Mellel cooperation also drew my attention. I hope such cooperation between obviously complimentary software such as your own and Bookends will continue.

Anyhow, we can wait (and hope). Thanks for the consideration.

Christian’s latest post made me a little worried that the main point in my previous post was missed. At the risk of flogging a dead horse, let me repeat it:

When we update the contents of a sheet by importing, we lose the work we’ve done with aliases, etc. This is a major problem, assuming that we continue with our present way of working in DT Pro, linking self-written text with sources that are records in the sheet.

What would be really invaluable for me is:

(a) a recognition that this is a serious problem, and a commitment to try to do something about it (though not necessarily within a specific timeframe/by a certain version number, etc.) in terms of enhanced functionality of DT Pro; and/or
(b) an explanation as to why it isn’t a serious problem, and how it could be overcome by a change in our work practices, etc; and/or
© an indication as to whether the index-import of Mellel and OmniOutliner files mooted for an upcoming version might turn out to be a relevant workaround for this: e.g. maybe our Bibtex files, whatever their provenance, could be somehow converted to OMPL and brought in/updated through OmniOutliner.

Thanks for any clarification/advice you can give,