Things that i do not like in DT - or - why i am stil using D

In the last time, i am using DT Pro Office more and more. So i am starting to discover the application a lot more; putting more work into the application and getting more dependend on it.

Things that i wish to see in the future:

  • Reliable solution for all the scanner mess (see all other threads here in the forum); ok…not only your fault…some parts are Apples/Leopard problems…but as user who want to use advertised functions…i do not care where the problem is.

  • a search function that fits better in my work flow: If i want to search something, i don’t want to care about options and how to search in the beginning…i simply want to put some terms into the search box, and in return i want to see ALL possible results (including mispelled words, phrases, and all other stuff). And then…after that…i want to be able to narrow down my search to the results i really want to see. The problem with DT: I always have to think about the search options first; set them correctly and then doing my search. Next search i have to check again…maybe i forgot to change some options back.
    Most time i use “All” and “Phrase”…but it happens more than once in a week that i am searching for something…DT is not finding it…then i use Spotlight and find it in seconds…and then i am able to adjust the search options in DT to find the result that i missed before

  • More logical import function: Some time, imports are going into the Root-Folder of my database, sometimes they go into the actual subfolder i am working in. And sometimes i do not get any imports or messages back from DT what happend to my import. I know that there is a logic behind that (i read it in an other post here in the forum)…but this is only confusing. The application should do, what i expect…and that shouldn’t differ in different situations.
    What i expect? The possibility to import any file in exaclty that folder, i am working in/or i have defined in the options…every time…without any excuses. And IF something is not working…i want feedback from the application. I know about the protocol and the “import any files” option. But that doesn’t solve my mentioned problems.

  • different file storage: I rely on my files/infos in my database. So all files that i put into the database, should keep untouched by DT. If i put a file/info in…i expect to get exactly the same file/info out again. If its a DOC, a PDF, DMG, ZIP or whatever. If DT needs to access the files and store metadata in different ways…fine with me. But keep my original files untouched.

  • reliable possibility to alter/change files with external applications. Why a sync button? Why changes with some external applications are lost, if i open files within DT?

  • really, really important: multiple Databases (i know…its planned for 2.0…but DT-Users are waiting since years for a new major release…so my hope is very limited)

I could add more topics to this post…but most of the other stuff is already covered by posts from other users.

Maybe i sound a little harsh here, but in some way i really like DT and haven’t found such great features like integrated OCR or “See also” or E-Mail import (single email import from mail works fine…Mail import window in DT is horrible…not working or often hanging forever, forcing me to kill DT) in other applications.

But i already started searching for alternatives…

…your luck i haven’t found something yet, that really blows my mind.

Thank you for the feedback and the suggestions! These (and more) issues will indeed be addressed by version 2.0 but the scanning issue can only be improved by either Apple or ExactCode. And version 2.0 is indeed in the works…

I know I’m preaching to the choir on going over some of what we’d all like to see in 2.0 of DT, but I want to chime in on why I’ve stopped using DT and have started using something else. I still have my DT databases alive, but I am no longer actively updating their databases. It was difficult for me to move as I’ve been an avid user and still love DT, but I felt the stagnation in user accessed development (I understand that 2.0 is in development, but none of that goodness is in my hands yet) has left me searching for other options until 2.0.

Please don’t get me wrong, I still have and use DTPO, it’s just not actively managing my digital life until I see some changes.

Here are some of the key points for the reason why I have stopped updating my DT (until I see what 2.0 offers). I am presently using EagleFiler and VoodooPad (for it’s wiki-ness).

  1. Open file system. EagleFiler puts it’s files in it’s own location, but I’m able to browse my files with the Finder and the structure is kept in the exact same way they are in the database. I am able access these with any applications I please, and modify and work on them (either within EagleFiler or not). Only real limitation is that I cannot add or remove files from the file system except via the program - this is understandable considering the program needs to know what is going in and out. But the open file system means I don’t have this big issue with synchronization of different locations, versions, etc. Huge plus for me and has actually decreased my file management because it truly is in one place, synchronization and back up friendly, and just nice to have access to my files the way I put them into the database. Also since it is an open files system, I know I won’t have an issue with getting my data out if I need to.

  2. Multiple databases open. Can’t say more to how useful that is.

  3. Handling of Word documents. These are imported without alteration or conversion. I despise the way DT handles Word documents and it’s a big reason I avoid using DT to store my Word files. I understand the reasoning for converting them to RTF (for the AI), but the fact that it can’t import the original is odd. The reason why I’ve been using DT is as a storehouse of my digital life, and as an academic, Word is a huge part of that. The fact that I have to keep the original document somewhere else, then a mangled version in DT is crazy. I won’t rant anymore on this as I know I’ve brought this up before, and others have talked about it url[/url]

  4. Tags. I love DT’s AI, I think it’s the best out there and is truly spectacular. However it’s limiting for me as it doesn’t allow me the flexibility to manage my files as I see best. Tags allow me a kind of personal control of how I want my data files grouped/associated (without setting up highly structured folder hierarchies). I have lots of research data that I find it best to use tags.

  5. Wiki. I know DT has a wiki feature and I’ve used it extensively. However I just found that VoodooPad a better fit as it manages a wiki more like a non-linear notebook better than DT. In DT I had pages scattered all over place (in their respective hierarchical locations) and linking them was more cumbersome. I know it has a way to automatically link documents, but the fact that they were all over the place as separate files somewhere just bothered me.

  6. Interface. The newer programs are really taking advantage of the latest and greatest OSX has to offer and the DT interface features are dated. This is a minor point really, but seeing what others are doing with these new technologies leave me longing for an updated UI on DT.

These are just a few points that I wanted to make in hopes that these will be addressed in this next 2.0 version. I want DTPO to be my only solution (and it was for a while), but these are the major reasons why it is no longer.

Version 2 will indeed address these issue, except number 5. But that might be part of a later 2.x. release depending on the feedback.

Thank you. Perhaps DT 2.0 will have a means of indexing VoodooPad documents then? Just a thought and anxiously awaiting.

The answer is yes if VoodooPad supports Spotlight. Same story for any other file type.

Could you explain a little bit more about what you mean? I tried VoodooPad a while back and thought DEVONthink made a far better Wiki.

Of course, I really like the hierarchical nature of DEVONthink, which was one of the major complaints I had with MediaWiki – that it was very cumbersome to create hierarchies.

Sure, I’ll try to explain a little further. But you’ll see that it is really a matter of preference.
As with all wikis, they allow for a non-linear nature of linking files. VoodooPad just allows me a more of a bundled “notebook” where all my documents (that are inherently linked or grouped) are within one VoodooPad document.
So DT’s wiki isn’t bad, it’s just a little dated and not has easy to go between pages as is in VP. All my pages can be shown on the “shelf” for quick and easy access and linking of files (drag and drop linking), as well as it has tabs.
I think DT’s wiki could just use some updating. A lot of newer wikis have some very nice features, I just happen to prefer the way VP works. I have the pro version of VP because I found the additional features (e.g. triggers) to be very helpful.

I agree to your point about navigating your wiki in DT. This would be much easier (at least, for me) with improved keyboard support, especially a changeable shortcut for browsing, like in Safari (return to previous page…)

Drag and drop linking is possible in DT, although it is not that obvious.

This is how:
If you have an RTF-document open (best in an individual window), you can drag and drop any file into the text as a link, if you press command-option before you “drop” the file / release the mouse button. If you press space afterwards, the original formatting is continued (otherwise, the rest of your text is a link). I use this all the time for fast linking of documents, and it works well enough for my purpose.

(Another idea: Faster updates on the manual, maybe adding a “power-user-tweak”-section to each entry.)

I just opened the app today for the first time in months. The UI is so dated/hideous to work with, compared to current applications, I had to close it.

Glad 2.0 is on the way.


Really? I think the UI’s about the last thing they need to change :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously. I was right on the edge of emailing Eric and asking him if I could trade him my iPod nano or dog or something for alpha access. I vacillate wildly between extremes of saying “screw DTP2!” (and breaking down and building a sort of AppleScript implementation of SQL with DTP1’s sheets, etc) and wanting to tear my hair out because I feel I won’t be able to get anything done until I have DTP2 :stuck_out_tongue: A vicious circle.

Well, and the even more unreasonable extremes of trying to find another application that will do everything I want (I’ve spent the past couple days trying to build a solution in Filemaker… that’s how desperate I’ve gotten) or trying to code up a DEVONthink replacement (I built a little “notebook” that I thought was quite good for only a couple weeks of work – but I don’t trust myself, especially since it was my first app, so how could I trust my data to it? :angry:)…

And meanwhile, I check this site about twelve times a day hoping for news.

It’s a terrible, terrible thing to be enslaved by software. It’s even more ugly when you combine that with an “artistic temperament.”

I also tend to mistake missing productivy for software issues. sometimes, the real timewasters are hidden elsewhere. In the fields of humanities and in the arts , there are many inspiring examples of very productive people who found the time to invent and create with very simple tools. For me, their example is really humbling: They used a typewriter, and what, in comparison, do I get done with all that portable processing power under my hands? How can I increase that? Using more software and then waiting for even better software has not proven a sucessful strategy so far.

Then, as I understood the subtleties of the current announcements, a beta is out, but even in a very optimistic scenario, a 2.0 version of a successful piece of software from a small company will not change completely. I would not expect a difference like in OS9 / OS 10.0, and I guess that even a 10.2 / 10.5 jump does involve serious work, hopefully without Christian and some clones of him go into troglodyte mode in a garden shed. By the time we have 2.0 I promise we will start looking for 2.1.

Maybe the next version is more important for the simple reason that it will make continuing support and development more likely. The real cost of sitting on the current version for another year is not getting less work done, but an increased chance of seeing DT go out of business over time, or dropping the whole database thing and concentrating on freeform pottery. Unlikely, but these things happen, and after spending so much time with a given tool, it costs some time to adapt. So I am glad that things are moving forward!

To be sure, the old-timers got a lot done with very limited tools. At the same time (as I’ve brought up before), James Joyce didn’t create Finnegans Wake in his head. He had twenty-three notebooks, IIRC, filled with information about a single chapter from that book. Chaucer and Boccaccio recycled tales from even earlier periods, jokes from their time period, and so on. Even the Bible reuses stories from other cultures and time periods. Mozart drafted like a @#$%#@$%@#$^#@. I don’t believe in the common idea of genius, primarily because I’ve never seen it at work. I see incremental achievement everywhere – elaborations, improvements, revisions, and edits – but no real instance of creation ex nihilo.

I see DEVONthink Pro as a combination of a library, butcher paper, and a typewriter. Really, it’s not much more than that. It’s a damn sight faster than leafing through books looking for relevant information, and it’s a very nice typewriter, and it keeps your papers nice and neat – but that’s just about it.

Indeed we will. My entanglement with DTP’s progress is similar to politics. I go out and vote for the candidate who best approximates my views (albeit much the same way a mouse would vote on cats), and over twenty or thirty years I hope that some laws will be passed that I agree with, and some other laws that I disagree with will be repealed.

Similarly, I vote (loudly and often) on this forum for the features I think will make DTP better. I’m big on increasing the butcher paper aspect of DTP – increasing the ways that I can make links between disparate topics, showing the relationships between them, and so on. So I suggest mind mapping, semi-structured documents, quasi-relational database functionality, improved WikiLinks, and so on.

DEVONthink Pro is not and will never be the perfect KalisPhoenixTool for Writing the Great Terrestrial Mythopoeic Series. And I’m cool with that, most of the time, because it’s such a damn good tool. It’s pretty close.

I’ll heartily agree with that.

Forgive my histrionics – about twice a year, all work grinds to a halt and I fret about my tools. I try out every “novel writing” app out there and curse them for being simplistic, rigid, and patronizing. I try FileMaker again and realize that I truly hate it – not because of its functionality, which is great, but because it is hideous and unfriendly. I try (recently, at least) Bento, and think it’s great but painfully crippled. I try Tinderbox, and wonder how the hell I’m supposed to get anything done in it when there’s so much to tweak. And I consider going back to MediaWiki, building my own application in Cocoa or in PHP and MySQL, and so on.

And after a couple days of bellowing, cursing, and complaining, I shut the hell up and go back to work. Using DEVONthink Pro, because it’s the best tool out there.

Someone once accused me of being a Windows user at heart. It’s probably true – I like using one application at a time. What I need to do is get it through my thick skull that I need DEVONthink Pro – and NovaMind, and GraphViz, and Scrivener, and about a dozen or two other apps. And then I’ll have my perfect workspace and everything will be cool.

Until then, though, look forward to hearing a lot of posts like this. Coming in November, to a phpBB near you :slight_smile: