Using DEVONthink as a web browser

I’m using DEVONthink more and more as my web browser, rather than Safari. I’d like to request easier entry of web http:// addresses manually.

Currently (on DT Pro v1.9alpha23) the top of the browser window displays left / right / reload navigation arrows, and then the favicon + the current web address. Clicking on the web address opens the page in an external application.

I’d like to suggest using the the web address space as an area where you can manually type in the web address of a different page to navigate to.

The current page could be opened externally either using cmd-shift-O or perhaps by adding a new tiny icon after the reload button.


I agree with this request …



thank you for the suggestion. I’ve added this to the to-do list (which has grown a lot during the last week due to missing time). Hopefully things will speed up again next week after relocating.

Hope your relocation all goes well, Christian!

I’ve also been thinking about this a bit.  Since for many people, myself included, DT functions as a research and writing tool, and since the bulk of that research happens via the internet, it seems to make sense to integrate more browser functionality into DT.  I’m not sure how far this should be taken, but there seem to be a few advantages to this:

•  Keeping bookmarks within the groups of DT as link files alongside related documents is much more powerful and useful than having all your bookmarks stashed away in a big clump inside your browser.

•  Being able to then view the web-documents that those bookmarks point to in a seamless way along with your other documents, all within DT (think of notepad and outliner views), is just slick and efficient.

•  Grabbing webpages (and in the future, websites) into the DT database is much easier that way.  Right now, when I find a webpage in Safari that I want to add to DT, I have to drag the URL to DT to make a link file, switch to DT and click on that link to load the webpage within DT, choose "capture webpage" to add it as an html file in DT, then delete the link file in DT.  Oy.

•  Another cool thing could be how DT’s notepad view could enhance the idea of tabbed browsing.  Look at how Omniweb 5 does tabs … a drawer on the side with thumbnails of each page, but those thumbnails can be collapsed to just the page titles for when you’ve got a gob of tabs open.  Dealing with many tabs is the main flaw in Safari’s implementation of tabs.  DT’s notepad view could handle this easily if some kind of a “browsing session” document were introduced.  It could be as simple as a special text file listing the URLs in the browsing history of that Browsing Session, which DT would give a special icon and treat as if it were a tab in Omniweb.  Clicking on that file would display that “tab” in the main window of the notepad view, and the browsing history of that session would always be preserved.  That way you could have any number of browser “tabs” within your hierarchy of groups in DT alongside your documents, bookmarks, etc etc.  Another alternative could be that the Browsing Session wouldn’t be a special text file, but instead a special kind of group (with a different icon of course, perhaps something looking like a browser window).  Then each webpage in that session’s history could show up as a link file or html file inside that “group”.  Normally the little disclosure triangle would be closed so you’d only see the Browsing Session icon, but you could see the history of that session and easily jump to any webpage in that history but clicking the little disclosure triangle to open the “group”.  You could set the maximum number of pages kept in the history, of course, and you could perhaps include subgroups to break the history up by date, the way Safari does.  One great advantage of doing it this way too would be that if the history of each Browsing Session were kept as html files (instead of link files), any search you performed in DT would also search all the contents of all the webpages you’ve visited in all of the Browsing Session “tabs”.  That way any great little nugget on any of the webpages you’ve visited lately will show up in the search, even if you didn’t think to “capture” that webpage at the time.  And while you wouldn’t be able to drag files into a Browsing Session “group”, perhaps you’d be able to drag them out of a Browsing Session and into another group to retroactively “capture” some webpage in the history.  I don’t know exactly how this would be implemented, or even if it’s a good idea – it may be a case of mixing your metaphors.  But I personally would like to see it added.

Oh yeah, and one more thing about the Browsing Session filetype idea … when surfing in one of these sessions, you’d be able to view the PDF and Word document content you encounter seamlessly, since DT already knows how to display these kinds of files.  That’s more than you can say about Safari!

An alternative to dragging a URL from Safari to DT is to use Cmd-L in Safari to move to the location field and select the current URL, then Cmd-( to run the Take Plain Note service.  One drawback is the URL rather than the page title is used for the document title in DT.

There’s a handy “Add page from Safari” script in DT Pro that effectively replaces those tedious individual steps, with some post-processing still necessary for moving items to desired groups.

Re: browsing sessions.  I was thinking about that sort of thing again this afternoon while switching between items in "widely-separated" groups and being frustrated by lack of navigation history.  A workaround like opening items in separate windows quickly becomes cluttered, plus struggles with maintaining a consistent selection focus become more obvious.

In a thread about following Wiki links I vaguely remember mention of some navigation history being added.  That would be an improvement.

. . .

DT’s chameleon personality makes it harder for it to be “perfect” for certain things that more specialized apps excel at although its combination of features and functionality makes some compromising “acceptable enough” for it to substituted for some apps in certain situations.

With a highly interactive app like DT certain interface refinements are at least as important for me as new features.  I’d rather wait for changes that feel well integrated rather than hurriedly tacked on.  Just mentioning that because there’s a large TODO list for DT and I hope overall usability won’t suffer.  Of course “usability” widely varies so what’s acceptable and comfortable for one person will probably be awkward and intolerable for another.  Apple’s change of Finder’s Cmd-N behavior (which I think was a good choice and no big deal for me) comes to mind. :wink:

The “Back/Forward” buttons/commands should now remember all previously viewed database contents too. And DT 1.9 should definitely improve the browsing experience compared to v1.8.x. However, don’t expect tabbed browsing or anything like that before v2.0.