OK, I know, DTP2 is almost here, and it’ll be what it’ll be. Still, here’s a crazy request: What if DTPx had a Stickies-like component to its interface, so that I could view my data objects visually, like index cards on a bulletin board?

I love Stickies. I love that I can pull data–from Safari, Mail, wherever–into a Sticky with a simple ⇧ ⌘ Y, and boom, there it is visible on my desktop. I can maximize and minimize my Stickies with a click, move them around, arrange dozens on my desktop at once, kind of like a mindmap, but without the hassle (IMHO) of all those connector lines. I also love that I can reach through my Stickies array to grab stuff on the desktop beneath.

I just want … a little more. The ability to put my Stickies into categories, so I don’t have to see them all at once (unless I want to). The ability to create and save multiple arrays. And critically, the ability to seamlessly integrate my Stickied data into a larger digital database. In short, I want a kind of Sticky Data Organizer, a smart corkboard for my MacBook.

I’ve tried everything, from Sketchbox to Curio to Mindjet, but I don’t want to have to move my Stickies around within some non-transparent, proprietary-database app window. (Again, the ability to reach through an array to the desktop below is really key; Geoffrey Alexander’s new Diamond app offers something like this for individual text files, but it’s not a robust system.) I write in Scrivener, but its corkboard isn’t free-form enough for my creative-thinking needs. Because I like punishment, I occasionally revisit Tinderbox, but ugh! $230 for an interface so ugly and unintuitive that they encourage you to spend another $300 on a get-to-know-Tinderbox weekend – thanks but no thanks.

Still, Tinderbox is on to something, and it makes me realize that what I really want is … a corkboard interface, with the simplicity of Stickies, for DTP. My data objects (PDFs, rtf notes, etc) already live in DTP in a file structure – folders, smart folders, etc. I’m asking for the additional ability to pop every file out of its box to swim as a separate, resizable (and re-colorable, etc) window on my desktop; I can move them all around, yet continue to track them from within the DTP interface. Sorta like PadsX, but way smarter and more elegant. As it stands, I’ve got this crazy workflow that involves typing notes onto a 4x6 index card .rtf template, which I both print out and dump into DTP for storage and (soon) tagging. But once they’re in DTP, the whole index-card motif (and flexibility) is lost. I’d like to get it back.

What do you think? Anyone for DTP 5.0?

Have you ever seen Jef Raskin (old Apple guy)'s plans for a Zoomable User Interface? Check this out if you haven’t.

When I first came here I begged the developers to get into something like this, but they haven’t shown any signs of interest. Understandably, I mean, because it’s a big task.

But I think that this might be achievable with the various technologies that OS X has under the hood. I figure it’s only a matter of time until someone uses the nifty “Coverflow”-esque widgets available in XCode and makes a fullscreen ZUI. I wish DTP could have that, but I figure it’s a few years away at least. 5.0 might be right.

Cool – although at one point I zoomed out so far that I couldn’t locate the files again, had to quit and start over! :laughing:

DTP is doing a great job of applying the “everything is miscellaneous” philosophy to file and data management. But nobody seems to have quite figured out how to make EIM succeed visually. Curio makes a valiant effort, but it’s still in a box (and a proprietary one). Tinderbox is a nightmare. Stickies, I contend, is kinda perfect – except there’s zero data management on the back end. Put A plus B together, then we’ll see magic …

Yeah, sorry, I didn’t really respond to your statement but just went off in my own direction :stuck_out_tongue:

deletes about ten pages of brainstorming I wish I worked for DEVONtechnologies :stuck_out_tongue: You have no idea how much time I spend thinking about improvements to their software. I’m not a Mac fanboi anymore, I’m a DEVONfanboi.

The idea that occurred to me was of making documents one of two types:

  1. Normal, like we see in DTP 1.
  2. “Sticky,” with some differences.
  • The widgets are miniaturized, perhaps the size of the Download Manager’s in DTP 1.
  • The widgets are a different color, perhaps like the sexy black ones in Coverflow. It’d make sense to be able to change the widget colors like you can in “Stickies,” but I’m not sure how much effort that requires. I’d personally be fine with that being delayed a few revisions, but I don’t know about you.
  • The windows are always on top.

I think that might provide the functionality you want without requiring too much time from the programmers. I think if they added a Boolean value with a little checkbox in the “Info” panel, and the simplest of AppleScript interfaces so that I could just select a bunch of documents and tick/untick the checkbox, that’s all the interface we’d really need.

All the documents could look the same in the main DEVONthink window, but when you double-click a document to view it in its own window, the app queries the document to see if it is normal or sticky, and displays it accordingly.

There might be some other information that needs to be stored, like x/y coordinates on the screen, but if I understand correctly that’s already a part of Cocoa and might not require any more logic from the programmers.

What do you think of that?

Edit: Diamond looks pretty cool.

Edit 2: If the programmers didn’t want to do the “default” style for the documents, or if they don’t want to wrangle with any more metadata, perhaps “Open as Sticky” could just be a contextual menu option. This would offer fine-grained control of how documents behave, reduce the logic involved, but have the same effect.

Edit 3: This is just another grain of sand on the beach of reasons for DTP to have a plugin API. Provide the ability to insert a menu item and/or contextual menu item and the plugin takes over the display functions. The community can put whatever functionality it wants into the plugin (provided some hooks into basic DTP functionality like “see also” and wikilinks and so on) and the programmers don’t have to divert time from the core functionality of the app.

Not quite what you’re asking for, but Bill does mention that it would be “fun to have an attractive front end to the database” in this thread.

I’m not very visual myself, hierarchal organization works fine for me, but I enjoy reading all your creative ideas about what could be done with the interface.

In a perfect world that would be true. But in reality we would first have to spend a lot of time creating documentation. Then we would spend time coaching people with issues, misunderstandings and requests for additions (because this beast is quite complex!). After that we would spend time with users that install these plugins who complain about stability issues.

Having worked in the software industry for quite a while, I know that unless you have the resources this is not an easy decision to make.

Would it be possible to divert much of that time and effort to the community? The (small) app I know with the greatest number of third-party plugins is probably Quicksilver, and their developer documentation isn’t much to look at. They have some basic calls, some definitions, a XCode project with the basic requirements, and that’s about it (I’ve never developed a QS plugin, so I might be missing something).

I don’t want to cause anyone to miss any meals, work any 120 hour weeks, or go insane from the constant support requests. Perhaps there could be a new forum created explicitly for support requests having to do with plugins. Hell, I have a server that’s not doing much of anything, and it could just as easily give its 50GB and TB of bandwidth to a plugin community, further distancing itself officially from your company and sending no mixed signals about the support of third-party plugins.

nods To be sure. This is your livelihood we’re discussing, and there are many caveats. But I think that the overwhelming majority of the DTP 2.X and future feature requests are going to be things that could be provided by plugins coded by the community, and could be created and distributed more quickly by the community than by a normal business environment.

The long and short of it is that I think there’s a lot to be gained from a plugin API. I’d love to be able to eliminate as much as possible of the negative effects it would have on DEVONtechnologies and maximize the positive effects. I’m not making a business proposition or anything, and it’s not going to hurt me in any way if you guys never open an API, but it will be a bummer :smiley:

Re your note, from long ago, about a zoomable interface, the budding Grape looks intriguing:

Not that UI is on the front burner, alas …

I too have wished for a sticky like program that could deal with tags, have a hierarchy, and permit floating windows. Personally I just need this for text. Try out the sticky program stick 'em up. Weird gun motif going on, but it handles categories, which makes it more useful than OS X’s native sticky program, and it’s free. One other thing is that DT permits floating multiple windows, and since you can minimize the main window, you can work with text just as you would in a sticky program. Windowshade X offers the ability to make any of those windows stay on top or you can roll them up just like a sticky. This way you have the flexibility of stickies with the power of DT.

philosopher_dog: thx for the tip on WindowShade; not quite as elegant as Diamond, but solid and very handy and fills a niche in my workflow. I did try Stick 'Em Up and liked it, but I’m reluctant to commit my data to anything that looks like it’s out of development; ditto PadsX, which seemed to be on a promising path …

I’ve used WSX for years, and recently, concurrently, use ‘Afloat’ which adds ability to rollover dimmed windows to bring to full opacity. It’s very convenient for the separate DTP windows I use for feeds on the second monitor. By using Afloat, the ugly empty white windows don’t bother me unless I can see that there’s something there, which I then rollover to see what it is.

It’s usually more blather from bloggers who think, mistakenly, that their words are worth reading. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

That link ( doesn’t seem to work any longer. Any alternates available? Thanks!