Video + timeline related information – in DT, the wider file ecosystem & in knowledge work in general

hey DT´lers & community,

I just stumbled across Sanjiv´s question about video chapters and their display in the sidepane TOC.

as I am myself interested in video chapters for knowledge management, and was intrigued some time ago by DTs fabulous function to create reference links to frames in the timeline of videos, I am now wondering a) how does all this go together? b) is there some comprehensive documentation and/or description of scenarios of working with timed video markers / annotations within and around DT?

as to a)
I am wondering in particular:
– is there any link between reference links to timeline spots with video markers? should there be?
– how does the DT-specific system of annotations come into all this? it seems to me annotations are not offered for videos per se, but in a way reference links to timeline spots allow for just that in some grandiose way
– is this all connected (connectible) to any stable exchange format for timed video markers? … actually I am not sure there exists any more universal system / file format for this… but maybe the videonadas of the community can chip in here. in a way, I think such a thing is needed and would also be helpful to be integrated in DT

as to b)
– I was just looking at DT help and found there is no reference to video markers. so that is one thing
– the other thought: maybe it would be helpful to have some more general workflow/scenario-related overview of how one can productively work with time-referenced video-information in DT

(… overall and on a 20k-foot perspective on DT, I think this all relates to ways in which DT can really organically grow beyond knowledge work with classical text, and incorporate in even more encompassing ways hybrid information sources like images and AV media… )

best to all!

Could you please clarify this? So far DEVONthink doesn’t support any video markers. Thanks!

hey Christian sure,

find attached what I am refering to.

in DT with open video document I can ‘copy reference link to frame’ (‘Verweis auf Frame kopieren’).
I can then insert the reference into a text document and make, e.g. an annotated list of moments of a video (or even different videos). clicking the reference will open the video at the specified timeline moment of the video. – … which all is neat to very nice + practical!

now, I am not sure you call this (or I would call this) a ‘video marker’.
but that was the very reason for my rather global interjection.

likewise I am not sure what the actual technical framework (exchange format) behind video chapters as currently referenced by DT is (what @sjivan is refering to); and I do not find any documentation of this.
I do know it´s taken over from quick time. then there are other chapter formats circulating, like I have heard with mkv format. whenever one works with youtube and vimeo, again, all these ‘markers’, ‘chapters’ etc are not compatible, as far as I know. (though there is a software claiming it can export chapters to vimeo / youtube, but it too doesn´t say which technical format it relies on)… then some time ago there was a futile attempt to standardize all this with MPEG-7, currently some software like Kyno and WebDV allow making subclips etc etc.

what I am getting at: while the whole principal notion of timebased (and anotated) reference to videos seems to me of stellar importance in modern knowledge work (and thus for DT too), there is no easy to discern technical format for this yet (at least for semi-tech-savy users like me :-}).

– now when just looking at DT your reaction to my question shows, there is no codified knowledge / terminology / approach to this yet (it seems to me). there are – somehow – ‘reference links’ … that work. now, it seems they are not treated as ‘markers’ though they are timeline based. then, as I learned via Sanjiv´s thread, DT reads Quicktime chapters (are they ‘markers’?), but I do not find any reference to that in the documentation, nor do I really find an easy way to understand on what (technical) basis (format) that works.

…all this leaving me with questions, like: can I leverage other kind of timemarked videos / videoformats in DT…? are there best pracitce workflows to (sustainably) work with this kind of timeline-based reference? etc. etc. this is why I asked…

hope this clarifies and makes sense to you from DT-perspective.

Indeed no special handling for videos. They’re just item links plus an additional parameter and therefore treated like any other item link (e.g. icons show in the main view whether a document has incoming/outgoing links).

Whatever macOS (actually the AVKit framework) supports can be handled, other or proprietary formats aren’t supported (especially those using auxiliary files).

thanks for clarifying the details @cgrunenberg !
I still would feel DT should develop an expressive, documented approach to working with videos.

while for you from a developer perspective timebased references might be like text references with ‘an additional parameter’ users / researchers will approach all this from the angle ‘how can I do my (knowledge)work in DT with videos?’. and indeed this feature is mentioned in the documentation (while video chapters are not).

I guess something similar goes for the AVKit. as a term it doesn´t yet seem very transparent to users what this allows in terms of working with vides as a type of document in DT. (I do not easily find a good general overview, beyond developer-pages in Apple for it.)

so, it really is a suggestion / encouragment to build a more explicit approach here as to videos. e.g. I wouldn´t have known the chapter TOC in the sidebar exists w/o stumbling across @sjivan s question here. so this is a feedback I wanted to give.

generally I think video deserves to be embraced as one of the central formats of information for modern research and I wanted to express my wish as a modern researcher that DT would generally have a proactive approach about working with videos, one easy to grasp / follow for general users.
after all, having such features as timed reference links and video chapters as TOCs in the sidebar is reason for celebration in principle. so I think this can be further elaborated, documented, discussed…

… but maybe all this would better belong in the Scenarios forum for now… hm…

again, thanks for the technical clarifications here!

How often are you running into videos with chapters - outside YouTube?

hey @Bluefrog,

I do very often. that is because my work is knowledge and media related (like maybe most research these days)

YouTube just included chapters as a factor into search results – because they know it´s informational gold. Vimeo, the other big platform for serious videos, I guess for the same reason, just introduced chapters for Pro-accounts. Lynda, one of the biggest players in learning videos, swallowed for that reason by mighty LinkedIn, also comes to mind… Microsoft Stream, Flowplayer, … …
then chapters are normal for a bigger part of – again knowledge / information heavy – podcasts. which further illustrates the principal meaning of timeline-related reference in mediated information contexts.
let me know if I should give more examples, resp. do a more thorough research. I am quite sure this would bring up many more interesting use contexts…

… and we haven´t even started talking about ‘AI’ and automated transcription and chapterization (at YouTube they call those Auto Chapters). something already taking off in different forms…

aside from that, to return the question: how often does one run into md- or latex-files when searching for text on the net? – not that often, I´d say too. that is related to the other side of the argument: I am also looking at the tools that knowledge workers use on their ‘private’, not-internet facing side for research. and there, in the very heart of the DT-demographics, I´d suppose you also find a lot of annotated video (and video tools) in different types of research. this is why there is a whole fleet of tools allowing for working with video markers and chapters or other such stuff – starting with FinalCut and the NLE-editors in general, to more specialized, but also very present software webDAV, Kyno, ELAN, ANVIL, Hive, Labelbox etc.

but maybe your question is related to a certain proposition. if so I would be interested to hear what that is.

Actually, our user base is much broader than ”knowledge workers”. :slight_smile:

You seem to be referring to sites supporting chapters. What about the video files themselves, i.e., you download a video and view it. Are the chapters embedded in it?

… depends on how you define it; or who does the defining :slight_smile:
I am referring to people ‘collecting, organising, editing and annotating documents’ – in the broadest sense of all terms (including ‘documents’). to me it seems DT is geared to just that. and I take from the webpage its demography is “lawyers, teachers, journalists, researchers, students, and authors” – I´d have a hard time seeing a lot of difference to the way knowledge work is defined in current day sociology. :slight_smile:

as to your second point (‘about the video files themselves’ and ‘embedded chapters’): good question. the question as question was part of my initial insertion. I am myself not sure / knowledgeable enough about how the chapter / marker logic is (coherently?) translated in technical file logics – after the demise of the MPEG-7 project. I think there are different technicals formats around, most not standardized yet. it seems to me to be a similar situation as to the one in which subtitles were before SRT really took the field. this is why my initial contribution asked for a knowledge exchange on this, rather than asserting anything specific here.
the general motif was first asserting the importance and indeed ascendance of timeline based reference for modern knowledge work. and then turn to the technical side. and turn to the community here, and the distributed practices, knowledges, and familiarities. looking for real discourse.

what I can say (and have also dropped in the parallel conversation around Sanjivs concerns ), is that there seem to be tools by now that allow for working with chapterization of videos in a way that is also compatible with YouTube and Vimeo chapters (ChapterWorks SX). but thing is: I do not know what format / technology is behind that. which is why I ask the community and people who could know…

… I am also referring to the many tools that allow for offline work with video markers and chapters. that was what I was referring to as ‘the other side of my argument’. see the list of referred-to tools which are used for annotation, transcription and ‘mark-up’ of AV media; often related to different forms of research (resp. research documents). so, it´s not a web-centric argument. it´s a research-centric one, maybe…


I hope time-line related information / documents / knowledge will become a topic for the DT-universe/-discourse eventually. While I might be wrong in my take / focus, I think this is obviously (increasingly) fundamental in a world of hypermedia and hypermedia documents. And it seems, as often unfortunately, Google / YT are the ‘avant garde’ where they shouldn´t.

Meanwhile, as this doesn´t seem to be of systematic interest for DT-development/-discourse at the moment, I am happy for individuals here sharing:

a) ways in which they work with timeline-documents in and around DT (directly, or indirectly)

b) insights into from people working with timeline-based research (AV related research; annotation techniques etc.), what they can share about systematizing this kind of work in digital research ecologies – including share insights about the state/trajectory of technic formats / interoperability / standardizations stemming from their work

– thanks already for sharing anyting with me & the discourse community!

[ I will also post this under ‘Scenarios’ as it might be the better and more appropriate context for taking this further – so replies might be better placed there too :slight_smile: ]

I’m not so sure. Personally, i never watch videos for information because it simply takes too much time compared to simply reading. Eg watching people clicking on UI buttons and talking while they do it is just too much stuff for simple information. Not to mention bandwidth or storage when saving the videos. But then I’m not using all these other wonderful things with a bad noise to data ratio like Twitter, FB, Instagram.


But then I’m not using all these other wonderful things with a bad noise to data ratio like Twitter, FB, Instagram.

Amen! Preach it, brother! :wink:

From my perspective, you’re right that clearly text-based content does have many advantages. However, I would agree with the OP’s premise that an increasing percentage of great content is available (only) in audio or video form. This extends from podcasts to free academic lectures and other online courses, which often go into greater depth of demonstration than books do. Looking towards the future, I would therefore also broadly agree with the OP that more features to facilitate working with videos in DevonThink would be most welcome.

Look, I’m not arguing that DT should necessarily take away resources from other crucial areas of development to add more audio/video-related features. It may be the case that this is simply not a focus for DevonThink currently, or something the developers ever want to pursue (which is obviously legitimately in their domain to decide). But the argument against this can’t be that audio/video is simply irrelevant for people seriously consuming and working with information…or equating video-based content with the BS that is indeed all over social media… that is just not reflective of the current information landscape.

Personally, I rely heavily on MarginNote when it comes to consuming and consolidating video-based content. Might be worth taking a look @lerone

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I take from the webpage its demography is “lawyers, teachers, journalists, researchers, students, and authors”

True but this is just a handful of the people that use DEVONthink. However, what about historians? What about genealogists? What about mothers or fathers? Chefs? Mechanics *(shadetree or professional)?, etc. Like I said, we have a broader user base than people think we do :smiley:

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That was not my argument. I just pointed out that the obvious importance of video seen by the OP might be a not so obvious.

But the argument against this can’t be that audio/video is simply irrelevant for people seriously consuming and working with information…

What about those who aren’t serious about it? :wink:

We are aware of the needs and desires of our user base. We also have to consider the number of requests as well as the feasibility. (And trust me, I have had many ideas in my decade with DEVONtech that have not been implemented because their appeal was too limited, i.e., one-off solutions.)

that is just not reflective of the current information landscape.

Note, this constant terraforming of what people like to call “knowledge managment” doesn’t necessarily mean we should always be adapting to those changes.

As with any such shift, the foundation is often unstable. Building on a small hill that suddenly appears, a hill that may erode into a valley in a few months or a year (e.g., Notion, Agenda, Roam, etc.) is not the wisest idea. With the few builders we have and the limited working hours each day, the domiciles we build must be carefully planned to stand for longer than that.


Apologies if I didn’t reiterate your argument as you intended it. In any case, my point was that the obvious non-importance of video seen by you might not be so obvious :wink:

Agreed! That’s why I never understand when people get mad in cases where their requests don’t get taken up. It’s one thing to state individual needs with conviction, but something else to take it personally if they are not taken up for development. It’s fully understood that DT needs to prioritize creating the greatest amount of value for the greatest number of users.

Agreed regarding Notion, Roam and the likes.
But is this reasoning really applicable to audio/video-based content? After all, it has been around for a long time and only grown in importance and uptake, with no indication that this will stop anytime soon. Again, fully understood if there are other priorities regarding resource allocation. All I’m saying is that audio/video is not going away and will likely keep growing.


thx for pointing to that and also relating to the deeper question at hand @AW2307!
yes, I am aware of MarginNote. and was deeper into it until recently. then it just became to cumbersome and byzanthine for my overall workflow because of it being a rather closed of file-garden (e.g. the PDF annotations don´t carry over to DT and the OS system) and it´s too unique and demanding UI-philosophy. but it was quite unique in it´s integration of PDF, Website annotation and Video!
also the link between PDF annotation and a very advanced / versatile concept map is something that still makes me look back with a tear / temptation regularly…

@BLUEFROG – with all due respect: I do not really see the argument here yet in your reply about the ‘user base’.
Ok, let´s assume the self-descritpion that DT gives does neither reflect the real user base, nor does it reflect the intended user culture – which leads to other question as to what the website represents…
why would the fact that other user groups enter the picture say anything about the relevance of audio- / video-documents and their informational relevance? I think this all could be taken deep into a media culture and sociology debate… but to keep it simple: I am a father myself – still this interests me obviously (also because of the family videos I produce, but that leads to other territories…); Also: what about ‘oral hisotry’, or film historians then? Aren´t they historians? Chefs these days is a good example, take a look at,, – just to get some more illustrations yet for the argument that we see a general ‘videofication’ of vernacular culture – not just knowledge culture. (And if there is interest / need I can also provide the seed list for extensive literature on that continental role of video and audio in our digital culture).

Then, I think your point on ‘terraforming’ and ‘short lived trends’ etc. rather reflects what your real argument / sentiment here might be, has been all along. And so I am grateful you spelled it out in your answer to @AW2307.
But I also totally agree with AW2307´s reaction as to that:

So, while I also totally sympathize / empathize with such lines of argument pointing out every ‘new idea’ is running against ‘existing resources’, every dev team has to call priorities but also make ‘individualistic choices’ etc., I would at the same time underline @AW2307´s other point and put an exclamation mark to it: audio and video are modalities of media, and they are at the core of multi-/hyper-, documentary and broadcast-media now (to name just some aspects). so this is not about the vogues of this or that app or even platform / framework, and I think you conflate two very different pots of fruits here.
– just take the fact that 80% of internet traffic nowadays is video; or the fact that some label YouTube as 2nd largest search engine (even if that is a digital mytheme in some respects)… these are just some outer signs of that centrality of time-based media for modern media (and document) culture.

Or in the end maybe the self-description (definition?) of DT – again taken from the website – as tool for ‘intelligent collection, organizing, editing and annotation’ for ‘documents of any kind’ to ‘automatically analyse, connect und archive’ them should really be written and spelled out as ‘text-based documents’?!