Using third-party PDF reader

My problem is that DTTG’s PDF reader is subpar and hence being forced to use a third-party PDF reader (PDFExpert, GoodReader).

Problem is, I don’t really understand how the DT team thinks DTTG should be used to capture those annotations I apply to the PDF. It isn’t synced back and when i re-import into DTTG i now have the problem that the pdf is not even flagged as a duplicate. Manually deleting is cumbersome to begin with anyways.

Any solutions?

On iOS, when you use the Open In… mechanism to open a PDF in a third-party app it’s actually copied. After your modifications you have to use the same mechanism (Open In…) to send it back. The number added to the file name (actually, to the URL used internally) is used to identify the file and update the record in DEVONthink To Go accordingly.

Ok, that would already be quit useful but I cannot get it to work. I use “Open in” with PDF Expert and i get “aakklt2 (0000)” put into DT. It wasn’t merged with the old though

This is actually an unbelievably good feature of DTTG. You can open in an external PDF reader and annotate and the open in devonthink and all the annotations magically appear in the original file.

This is is a brilliant feature. I am not sure how it is not working for you (are you using open in each time?)

Yes I use “open in” in both apps

hi. it works fine for me as well, and i also think it is amazing that they have pulled this off (something that i have had trouble with in other apps), though i am using pdf expert’s beta. please check that when you use “open in” you aren’t using the “clip to devonthink” icon, but the “import” one.

chris, you are a life saver. i did use the clip and not the import one. thank you very much, now it works.

glad to hear. and, if you haven’t done it already, make sure to drag the import icon in the list over to the position before the clip icon so that you don’'t have to scroll to the right (apple has finally improved open in to the point it really ought to have been at in the beginning back with iOS 1 or 2).

Thanks to Devonthink for this.

The model I am using now is Devonthink/DTTG is my everything bucket. Everyhting is in there and synced between iPhone/ipad and two macs.

If I need to use a third party utility to annotate for example this is easy.

The whole system is stunningly brilliant. Why is it not at the top of the app store !. I think if the message gets out it clearly is the best system. Much better than Evernote and Onenote.

I actually switched to evernote (premium) for notes.

it is just

  • much faster generating the notes for me (IIRC devonthink requires 8 or 12x as many clicks to create a simple note while being slower to open up),
  • supports searching handwriting (killer feature of evernote)
  • getting to the search field is much faster than DT
  • search is weak on evernote but because i can have smart searches and only have a few hundred notes in there, i can actually find things quickly. not so with dttg, where i cannot even find a pdf where i know the precise title because it is ranked at position 384 for some reason.

Hi. Evernote is a great app. I am also a Premium member. My students primarily use mobile devices (phones) and many of them are using Android, so there isn’t much space for DEVONthink in the classroom at my university, I’m afraid. Of course, I introduce it to students and colleagues, but I only know a handful with Macs.

As for comparing the two, I think they perform different functions. I share notebooks in Evernote with my students and I take some notes in there, but these days I primarily use DT.

  1. I use Byword on the iPad for quick notes (indexed by DT).
  2. I use GoodNotes, which I have found has far superior handwriting recognition, at least for my handwriting. And, as a dedicated notetaking app on the iPad, it has phenomenal support for the Pencil (better than Apple Notes).
    3 and 4. I haven’t found the search field especially difficult to use. I think Evernote’s search is superior overall, though, because it handles Asian characters better (sorry DT, but I’ve reported this for a year or two now). The sorting on DT is much, much better, and that makes a big difference for me with tens of thousands of files.

In the end, whatever works for you is the way to go. For me, I have sensitive data (not only my own), and I have no interest whatsoever in sharing it with Evernote or Google (Evernote now lives on Google servers and uses Google APIs) in unencrypted form. Not only that, but Evernote has its own limitations (I’ve reported these for years on the forums and to Evernote), especially when it comes to note sizes or the painfully slow downloading of offline notebooks.

Neither app is perfect. I’ve suggested ways that DT could improve DTTG (see other threads on this forum), so I recognize there is room for improvement, but I am increasingly coming to see the two apps as separate, existing in similar, but not quite the same categories. Fortunately, with the mind-bending flexibility of DTPO on the Mac, you can just index your Evernote database and you don’t have to choose one or the other :slight_smile:

Granted, it is not in the same league as iAnnotate or Goodreader et al., but to compare to apps that essentially focus on that aspect is quite unfair. A minivan is subpar to a Ferrari, until you also want to take the kids and their friends to soccer practice.

My take was quite different: When DTTG2 came out, I found the level of pdf editing features amazing, and I’m sure more will be added.

My usage scenario: For quick, easy edits, I can do it fast in DTTG2’s pdf editor. Marking up a PhD thesis: I still go to iAnnotate and probably always will.

I am a major user of the “roundtrip technique”: keep all data in DTTG/DTPO, and then return marked-up pdfs from iAnnotate back to DTTG2 and on to DTPO. I do this all the time, and have not notice as of today any issue with missing information. The devil could be in the details.

I am pretty much in the same boat with my philosophy, because I prefer specialized apps for specialized tasks. DTTG developers are wasting their time if they are trying to do a better job than PDF Expert or GoodNotes (the Ferrari / Minivan comparison). I don’t do much round-tripping myself. Generally, I’ll take a student’s paper, scan it (or import it) into Goodnotes, mark it up, and then put it into the DTTG Global Inbox for filing later.

Warning: wandering off topic.

Honest question: How is that feature handled in export of notes? It is my understanding that they keep this internal and make export difficult, for obvious reasons. This kind of lock-in would be a dealbreaker for many.

That’s something that has completely confounded me on iOS: I have not found any decent way of harnessing handwriting recognition, even with the Apple Pencil. Naturally, one would expect the challenge to be the HWR techology. Once that works, everything else is trivial. Not so it seems.

I tried MyScript SmartNote, and I was blown away by how well the recognition worked! Search was great. But then: the export options are pathetic. It seems you can only do:

  1. Pdf of the image WITHOUT a text layer of the recognized text -> useless
  2. txt/latex export of the recognized text -> useless (for me), as the point of OCR in general is to retain the image; handwritten notes in particular will contain sketches and doodles are not to be OCRed but need to be retained. If I create a pure text document, I’m better off typing it in the first place. Handwriting with the Apple Pencil is destined for rich environments!

Leaving the notes in the proprietary MyScript format is a non-starter.

Has anyone any suggestions?

how do you get those notes into devonthink and update them if you keep writing on it?

to be honest, i can barely ever find anything in dttg. but i have reported this already anyways. finding one specific note amongst 20k files seems impossible.

to be honest, i haven’t used evernote until 4 months ago. i am still shocked how bad the software is overall. the mac version is so unusable, someone programmed an entire client around the api (alternoteapp.com/)

maybe. but i can quite literally not work with dttg’s pdf viewer. PDFExpert/Goodreader’s crop feature is so useful, i don’t care about any other feature (it makes the diffrence between readable PDFs and unreadable PDFs)

Honest question: How is that feature handled in export of notes?

I haven’t looked into that.
exporting notes in evernote is quite something anyways and I will probably have to give up on exporting the OCR of the handwritten notes. Just hoping the next app I will be using is capable of doing it…

I am a premium subscriber of evernote but I have switched back with DTTG 2.

If I want to do a quick note… drafts --> devonthink.

It isactually frustratingly slow and several clicks to get a simple note into evernote.

I was never totally happy with evernote. It is a bit slow if you put too much in it and the way it is configured doesn’t fit with me. There is a significant problem getting stuff out in a proper format.

I think you have to nail your cards to one system and for me Devonthink is my system. There is plenty of room for improvement, but i suspect it will only get better over time. Roundtripping is a great feature.

if the app is open it takes me 3 clicks to get the note into the right notebook too. that is (IIRC) 17 clicks in devonthink.

devonthink routinely halts if you try to take a note with a photo too.

if i could get rid of evernote it would make my day but at the moment, devonthink isn’t just there yet. for me at least. it seems you guys have a better system :wink:

With a couple of notes that’s OK. But if you amass a large collection, and rely heavily on a (potentially) proprietary lock-in feature, that’s a huge red flag. This might be OK for you (for me it wouldn’t), so you should get clear about your requirements for future-proofing your data.