Usage Scenarios?

I originally came to this sub-forum hoping to find users describing actual usage scenarios, rather than problems and solutions (though that has its own place, of course). That is, describing how they use DT to achieve particular tasks and activities. As an example, I seem to remember seeing some time ago a historian writing about using it to manage historical research, though I can’t find it again, and maybe a writer (Fallows?).

I find such case studies, examples, etc., very helpful in stimulating thinking about how to get more out of “open-ended” applications like DT (and e.g. Tinderbox would be another example).

I’m sure there are likely some of these in here, but I can’t easily find them via search (what would you search for?), so was wondering if anyone could point me towards any examples?

Maybe or surely one of these:

Doing a web search for e.g. “DEVONthink usage” brings up some nice articles in addition and I think that Kissell’s book is quite inspirational to get more out of DEVONthink, this one:

The Tinderbox forum actually has a number of threads about using Tinderbox with DEVONthink. Just as the OmniFocus forum has many threads about integrating with DEVONthink. In other words, one way to locate use scenarios is to search forums for both DEVONthink and other apps that folks use with DEVONthink.

Chad Black has written extensively on the historian’s use of DEVONthink. Also see Steven Johnson, Konrad Lawson, and especially John Sidiropoulos. A good search here and on the internet is “DEVONthink workflow”.

It will also help readers of this forum if you could describe something about your needs – professional, research, academic. Give readers something to react to with their own experiences.

korm & berndm, many thanks, those are great pointers

The historical research series was exactly the one I was thinking of that I read previously, so looking for more like this.

I’ll follow up on the other links that berndm suggests and also the suggested search string, but in the meantime a bit about my interests. I’m a self-employed analyst and consultant covering the scholarly publishing and scholarly communications worlds, primarily on the STM (scientific, technical and medical) side, though I’ve recently started to work for a couple of clients with interests in the social sciences and (digital) humanties (e.g. a mid-sized university press).

So I need to track publishing industry news, trends and market size developments etc.; technology developments affecting scholarly communication (web, content management, content creation, mobile); behavioural trends intersecting with these (e.g. social media); policy matters and development (e.g. research funders and governments’ policies regarding open access to research outputs).

An example of a publicly-available report I wrote is here: [The STM Report]( … s-reports/

I’ve been using DTP for many years, but I don’t think I get the most out of it by any means, hence my post. I tend to just through everything in in full text (PDFs, web clippings, etc.), and hope to be able to find what I need when I come to research and write on a particularly topic. My current database is ~1.5GB and probably getting to the point where I need to do something to thin it out, but that seems like an unrewarding task I will probably put off indefinitely, and more likely just start a new one!

I also use Sente for bibliography management, though as I’m not primarily an academic writer I only use this occasionally, which gives me the issue of whether to store things in Sente, or in DTP, or both. (Inevitably there is no policy: some things are currently in one or the other or both, but I don’t know which!)

Also a longtime Scrivener user (from launch) and Tinderbox user.

Hope that paints a picture?

Just a couple more thoughts and then others can chime in. Are you using DEVONagent alongside DEVONthink? For the purposes you describe they are great companions. Second’, the most prolific contributor in the areas you mention is Bill DeVille. Bill might add his thoughts here, but please read everything he’s posted in the forum (a lot!) because he frequently describes his DEVONthink methods while responding to other questions – so his best advice is sometimes not found just by searching.

Put it this way: I have owned Devonagent for a long time, and dutifully upgraded to v3, but I couldn’t say I make good use it. (I’ve recently posted on this over in the DA forum, btw.) My problem is that I haven’t really learned yet how to use it to get better results (or even as good results) than I get from using Google directly (plus G/Scholar and PubMed for more specialist things). One problem for me is that I often don’t understand why DA doesn’t give me the results or behave in the way I’m expecting. Another is that Google’s ranking algorithms are superb, but when you filter Google results through DA you often lose the benefit of these (one example: Google suppresses content farms rigorously, but I often get these near the top of DA results, presumably because they’re specifically designed to provide lots of textual hits).

But I’m working on it, by consciously trying to use it more often even for cases where it’s unlikely to give much (or any) advantage, just to get familiar with its operation.

Bill’s “Evangelist” moniker is undoubtedly well merited, at least for including oft-unsolicited and oft-informative details of his personal “usage scenarios” in a high percentage of posts. :slight_smile:

I thought it might be useful to keep a list here of the various case studies and examples of DTP that I’ve so far found:

  • Steven Johnson (Jan 2005): [Tool for Thought]( … position=&). This essay in the New York Times Book Review was written for a general audience, and just talks about the impact of software development on writing in general terms
  • Steven Johnson (Jan 2005): [Tool for Thought]( … 00230.html). A follow-up post on Johnson’s blog, giving the nitty-gritty on how he uses (used?) DTP to manage his notes and use them to help write his books. This (and the follow set of posts by Rachel Leow) was the model for the real-life case studies I was after in my original post in this thread.
  • Rachel Leow (June 2011): on DevonThink and history research, [Part I]( … earch-iii/). Excellent and detailed account by Harvard postdoc of using DTP for (surprise) historical research. Loads of great examples.
  • Luc Beaulieu (June 2012): [Digital Office II: Mac Software]( … -software/). Discusses use of DTP as part of a suite of Mac apps
  • Luc Beaulieu (August 2012): Digital Office Part V: making it work!. Main focus here is GTD workflow but DTP plays a big part
  • Daniel Wessel (Organising Creativity blog) (July 2011): [DEVONthink — Second Impression and some Tips]( … some-tips/). A lot more than the title suggests, lots of detail on the settings, structure (groups and smart groups), and views Wessel uses
  • Daniel Wessel (Organising Creativity blog) (July 2011): [Literature Management with DEVONthink]( … evonthink/). Useful if you need to manage
  • Daniel Wessel (Organising Creativity blog) (July 2011): [A very quick introduction to DEVONthink]( … evonthink/). Not a lot in the way of real-life detail, but worth reading in conjunction with the other two Wessel posts
  • Joe Kissel (2011): Take Control of Getting Started with DEVONthink, 2nd edition. I know some people like this, but I found it very pedestrian, with lots of listing and describing menu items (thanks, but I can figure them out for myself), and little concrete examples of using DTP in real-life situations. And you have to pay for it, unlike the other, more useful (to me) case studies

Also worth a look:

I’ve posted my own (quite detailed) progress with Devonthink at my blog Skulking in Holes and Corners ( - there’s a devonthink tag. There’ll be more posts as I fine tune my workflow. Thus far I’ve focused solely on setting up DT, and less on combining it with Scrivener and Word.

These are excellent resources. Thanks to all who’ve created and posted them.

And at the risk of over-doing it, I subsequently found these interesting posts from 2008 by Chad Black that I think korm must have had in mind – well worth a read:

Devonthink and other Mac Apps for History and Humanities Research ( … -research/)

Devonthink for Historical Research, part II ( … h-part-ii/)

Devonthink for Historical Research, part III ( … earch-iii/)

Update on the ever-changing workflow ( … -workflow/)

I’ve posted my own (quite detailed) progress with Devonthink at my blog Skulking in Holes and Corners ( - there’s a devonthink tag. There’ll be more posts as I fine tune my workflow. Thus far I’ve focused solely on setting up DT, and less on combining it with Scrivener and Word.<<

There’s also an excellent series of posts on note-taking: not that historians take that many notes, mind you! :smiley:

(I am not affiliated with, nor in the employ of…well, you know)

Mention of Scrivener, above, let me recall that there are numerous threads on the Literature and Latte forum about working with DEVONthink and Scrivener.