TaskPaper Integration

TaskPaper now has an open source model layer called Birch Outline. It would be fantastic if DEVONthink could integrate with Birch Outline, allowing users to work with TaskPaper outlines within DEVONthink. I envision this as a new native document type that you could create and edit in DT, in much the same way that you can create rich text documents, sheets, etc…

TaskPaper documents are plain text, and DEVONthink is already compatible with that. Use the normal TaskPaper syntax.

I’m well-aware that TP documents are plain text, but that’s not the point at all. The idea is to be able to use TP features within DEVONthink, rather than having to run a separate TP application. Currently, DT supports outlining within rich text documents, but the outlining capabilities pale in comparison with TP’s. It would be extremely valuable and useful to have TP features within DT as a native document type.

Fair enough.

Personally, I’m fine with Open With to edit any document type in the native editor - including TaskPaper. I’ve always said I think expecting to do all of one’s creative work inside DEVONthink is limiting – there are so many other possibilities.

Just my opinion, but I’d rather see DEVONtech invest in core products that we know are on the horizon rather than try to code to file formats for which great editors (such as TaskPaper) already exist. The outliner market is so full of competition it’s pretty saturated already. Seeing as TaskPaper ranks pretty low in downloads on App Annie and elsewhere, integration is probably not going to be a high-demand feature for most developer.

For existing integration see also

support.hogbaysoftware.com/t/dev … per-3/1996

The latter appears to be the sole posting on that forum regarding DEVONthink integration with TP3, btw

I understand your point about feature bloat, but TaskPaper is not just some random application. It’s a natural fit for DEVONthink since both applications operate within a hierarchical paradigm, DT at the file system level and TP at the document level. TP is one of the best outliners available on OS X and also happens to have some great task management features. DT has extremely weak outlining capability and no task management features at all. You alluded to the seeming lack of interest in TP on the DT forums, yet there are numerous threads from users requesting better outlining features and/or task management features in DT. Here’s an opportunity to add those features without reinventing the wheel.

Due to its plain-text format, light UI and the fact that it’s now open sourced, TP would be ideal for integrating in DT. It’s probably the only task management app that can be operated completely within the outline window, not requiring any sidebars, toolbars, dialog boxes, or other UI distractions. This would make for a clean integration. By providing the capability to support TP format natively, DT would become a stronger product. For existing TP users like myself, it would offer the convenience of not having to run TP in a separate window. I could create and edit a TP document, just like a rich text document, or any other natively-supported DT document. For people who aren’t married to a task management app, this would provide a fantastic task management and outlining experience natively within DT, which would be a great selling point.

As much as I use TaskPaper (and FoldingText), I wouldn’t expect to see this idea gain much traction with the DEVON folks. The’ve always integrated Apple core technology for editing/viewing/browsing documents rather than inventing their own, and I don’t see that changing now as they work to update both the iOS and macOS versions of DEVONthink. Markdown support and OpenMeta tagging is about as far as they have ever ventured to add support for non-Apple technology.

OK, but this doesn’t require them to invent anything. It’s an existing technology that can be easily integrated via Javascript or via the included Swift wrapper. Technically it’s not an “Apple” technology, but I’m not aware of any official edict by Devon Technologies stating that they’ll only support native Apple document types.

The forum I was referring to was the TaskPaper forum, not DEVONthink’s – my point was that if forums are a gauge (which they really aren’t) then there’s not much interest among TaskPaperers in using DEVONthink. My other point was that anyone can get a lot out of TaskPaper, or any outliner, side-by-side with DEVONthink already. Adding Javascript or Swift wrappers is coding that DEVONtech would have to take on in the midst of other major projects. Not my call, I’m happy to be surprised and proven wrong – but I’m with Greg when it comes to assessing likelihood.)

It’s still technology that’s not core to what their model is-they are not in the document outlining or task management business. There is also the risk associated with spending development time adopting open-source code from an indie developer that has a history of changing focus and open-sourcing products just before abandoning them for something new and shiny. I just don’t see it happening as I believe they have other priorities for development time to improve what they are already doing. DEVONthink to Go 2.0 and new sync technology would be at the top of that list.

Three things here:

  • I agree with Korm that there seems to be no overhead in using the TaskPaper 3 editor from DT’s Open With
  • In fact, I wonder whether there’s a small technical confusion here ? The TaskPaper open source modules include no editor, just a scripting interface for parsing outlines and working with them in memory, at the model level
  • The parsed outline model is certainly useful for writing scripts for interacting with DEVONthink, e.g. at the import/export level

That concern came immediately to my mind actually :open_mouth:

Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of that situation.

The TaskPaper format has never been abandoned – and this JavaScript interface to it will have a good longevity, more than enough for scripting.

But more generally, it’s clearly better to simply keep things in DevonThink and edit them in TaskPaper 3.

Everything is “easy”, until it … isn’t. For one, for “built-in” formats there is an expectation that this also works in DTTG under iOS. Is something available on that front? If not, then this is already compromised.

Don’t we all think that about our own favorites?

I agree the “in-window” editing is very convenient, but for most formats beyond text or RTF(D), there are probably quite a few issues to deal with. At least for me, viewing docs (say pdf, Word, Excel … with a Quicklook plugin) in the preview pane and then doing the real stuff with “Open with” is good enough, and by definition reliable and solid.

IGNORE THIS: To make access a little quicker, I’d be in favor of being able to define what procedure is to be used for double clicking (in my case, pdf, graphic formats -> Preview, but RTF -> DT Editor would be the way to go) and maybe an option that a double click anywhere in the preview pane would launch the “open with” scenario.

UPDATE: I actually looked at the Birch Outline webpage, and indeed iOS support is included. Good!

However, I then looked at TaskPaper. I don’t doubt its usefulness, and all-text is something that gets my attention. Those of you who are really into it and have built up workflows around it would certainly like and benefit from DT integration. But what fraction of DT users would that be? Is that worth diverting the devs from core tasks?

Overall, it offers rather little. Any format that can only do (somewhat) structured text is in my view not worth special consideration for a product like DT. For a subgroup of people, TaskPaper has to be integrated; another group wants Markdown, which has many dialects. Where does this end? This would only make sense if there was a single, powerful, markup/down system that could fulfill many needs. Sometimes I wonder if something like pmwiki would do the trick. Its basic formatting is as simple and appealing as Markdown, but it can become incredibly powerful. All one would need is a renderer that does not rely on a webserver and a toggle mode in the DT window just like for Markdown.

I realize that this is a harsh, biased view, but I think not entirely without merit.

Trying to limn what’s different in this from the status quo? Open With for any file type opens whatever editor you’ve defined in the Open With portion of Finder’s Get Info. So if seems that would take care of part one of the suggestion. If you can always invoke Open With using ⇧⌘O, or by using the toolbar widget ("open in external editor or viewer), then what time is saved by double-clicking the preview?

Not opposed. Just not convinced. There’s a difference. (Yes, I’m very aware of the debates that have raged here – nasty; literally – on the concept of double-clicking documents to invoke Open With.)

Yes, Korm, I agree. I am myself not a fan of adding too many options into preferences. I’m actually happy with the way things are. The only problem is that I sometimes double click instinctively on the file, but when it is pdf, I get the DT pdf viewer, which I simply don’t like (and that’s entirely subjective). But in case of rich text, I prefer the DT one.

from this thread

The promise of Devonthink’s API being public will hopefully allow just these kind of plugins to be built by people who need them. I for one am very excited by the possibilities.