Text format (again)

Sorry to come up with this topic again, but I need markdown with embedded images and I cannot seem to find a proper way to do it in DT.

Markdown with embedded images (Textbundle)

I write all my text in markdown (plain text for the win), and some editors allow me to paste images in my text as well (Ulysses and Bear). Actually I use that a lot to write technical documentation. These editors allow me to export the notes with embedded images in “textbundle” format (actually an archive containing the plain md file plus an assets folder for the embedded images).

Now for quick notes I don’t want to go to Ulysses, write a note, send it to DT in textbundle format. These are too many steps to be practical.

Rich text in DT

So if I stick to DT (I love the Sorter tool for writing quick notes), all the options for writing text with images are: 1. Write a formated note (basically html with mime encoded image within the html file) or 2. write a richt text (rtfd) file.

… suboptimal, because

Both solutions are suboptimal for me because the content is in an obscure format that needs to be parsed to be in plain text again (yes, I now there are converters, but I’d rather like to have the plain text on my hard drive to be able to use shell scripts to find / grep / tranform the content).

Workflow for Textbundle in DT

As DT does not support writing in textbundle, I could write a Python script plus an Alfred Workflow that would create a textbundle note and put it in my DT inbox. From there on I could use the keyboard shortcut “Shift + Cmd + O” to open the file in an external tool (Ulysses in my case) and do my editing there. This is a workable solution, but in that case I cannot use the Sorter tool anymore.

How are others doing it?

From reviewing the forum I know many fellow DT’lers are using markdown regularly. So what are you all doing to use markdown + embedded images? Fall back to RTFD or Formated note?

There is no such beast as Markdown with embedded images.

Regarding an approach…

While this at its core is a true and repeatedly made statement by you, it remains a fact that a number of established apps within the Apple universe use it - and adding support would make a migration to DEVONthink way easier. I’d not even care too much if it remains in textbundle format, but a built-in import function would make me switch around 1000 notes and abandon other solutions.
(TBH I’d still prefer the textbundle format as I do not want a lot of ‘unnecessary’ subfolders appear within my overviews and pot., filters).

it remains a fact that a number of established apps within the Apple universe use it

Not according to http://textbundle.org/.

PS: Textbundle is doing the same thing I’m proposing, just in a shell that appears to be different.

Well, I obviously can’t provide any reliable analytics insights, but state the hypothesis that there are big overlaps between the set of users of the programs listed and DEVONthink users.

And to reiterate: I do understand what textbundle is. I do understand that it is not a very own, new format. As a user, I do not care about the underlying format, but the experience presented to me. I want to see my markdown document and the render incl. pics, I do not want the pictures or picture subfolder to appear alongside my document(s).

And @BLUEFROG, just to preemptively defend: I do know that there are other formats that make that easier. I have my markdown documents and I really do not want to convert them via pandoc and then insert the pictures manually.

I genuinely do not understand the focus on the technicalities. The textbundle debate is an old one and you are right on the technical side. What I am missing in the whole discussion is the acknowledgment of the UX.

The only really viable argument can be ‘in sum, it doesn’t provide a positive ROI in terms of the value to users in contrast to the cost and complexity added by it’, in turn dependent on users that would use it, the benefit perceived, implementation and opportunity costs etc.
But speaking with some German honesty here, defending an implementation with subpar experience (for quite some, as you can see in the thread cited by yourself - how many in absolute and relative values in the great scheme of things I can’t say) because it ‘technically works’ doesn’t sit right with the product manager in me.


@BLUEFROG Re Looking at the list of apps supporting Textbundle on http://textbundle.org we can see several very innovative and wide spread products: Bear Writer, Ulysses, Marked 2, MindNode. - When Ulysses started offering markdown support in the early 2000s, md was in its infancy, but the founders of that company realized that it is a format that is super valuable and useful. And obviously they made the right decision.

I can remember a time when I tried to convince people start using markdown. Many would reply: “Why do we need this? It’s not wide spread.” Times have changed. Markdown is everywhere now.

Textbundle offers more than meets the eye. First off it offers a clear cut solution to the problem of markdown implementing images. This indeed is a problem. I am a user of iA Writer and Typora and many other markdown writing tools. There is no consistent way for embedding images in markdown in those tools. But Textbundle has the perfect solution. A predefined way to package markdown plus images (even metadata).

Now regarding using subfolders for images: I fully aggree with @ClassifyFileConnect that this is a very bad UX because subfolders would start showing up in search results and clutter the DT database. Textbundle is like a zipped file and super convenient to handle.

PS: DT seems to support Textbundle anyway: I can see it renders my Bear Writer exports perfectly fine. Only, I cannot edit these files, cannot edit text or add further images / screenshots to them.

PPS: Rtf(d) and “Formated Note” are obscure formats where extracting the text is not possible without special tools. The future belongs to md + a clearly defined way to handle asset files, and that is in my opinion Textbundle.

I think you mean RTF(D) is an opaque format as it’s certainly not obscure. It’s still by far more prevalent and widely used than other formats (excluding Word due to its sheer ubiquity).

And despite many opinions on it, Markdown is not as widely used as you think it is. It is certainly more visible than it used to be but it is still a niche language, adopted by a specific set of people or web-related industries. It is not generally accepted as the answer.

Yes, DEVONthink will display textbundle content but it will not allow editing it.

Neither Markdown apps you mentioned, ia Writer and Typora, Support the textbundle format either.

I can totally understand your arguments. Actually I would be totally fine with DT being able to render notes in TextBundle format (I can edit them in Ulysses App), but I realized that DT to Go is not able to render them, and that forced me to convert TextBundle files containing images into “Formated note” and those containing no image into plain Markdown format. This is a solution I can live with.

For fellow DT’lers who are looking for options, here is how I do the conversion:

First I filter notes in TextBundle format containing images in them via this DT search: “assets extension==textbundle scope:selection”. - I then select all those notes and convert them to “Formated note” because that preserves the markdown info (like “h1” or “bold”), plus it keeps the embedded screenshots (via mime encoding within the file). “Copy to html” does not keep the embedded images. And “Webarchive”, I haven’t looked into that. Finally: RTFD. It keeps the embedded images, but it loses the infos like “h1” or “bold” (or at least I cannot parse it easily out of the text).

So the format “Formated note” has all the infos I want for future back-conversion, if I need to.

While DEVONthink does not support text bundles right now, it is on our radar.


Good day! Is Textbundle getting any closer on the radar? Thank you!

Yes, it is.

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