What does the future hold for DEVONthink?


DEVONthink has been a workhorse tool of mine for years. I’m interested in knowing where the “devonians” might be taking this fantastic piece of software in the months and years to come. Any plans or possibilities you may like to share?

There must be a better way.
What is meant by Metadata?

Just a suggestion … the developers will not tell you what they’re thinking about, but it helps everyone if you tell them what you’re thinking about. What features should the future bring? What are your pain points, and what are you pleased with. If you designed DEVONthink 3 what would it be?


Basically, I’d like to see DT replicate all the functionality of Evernote, without losing any of its Devonthink functionality. That means seamless interaction between desktop and mobile, great automatic parsing of text in images … actually, that’s about it.

Really, I just want DT with all its functionality on all my e-vices, and for all my devices to sync without me thinking about it. Plus clipping from iOS Safari, thanks :slight_smile:

I feel that the desktop interface is pretty dated, too, but I don’t know enough to say how that should be fixed. Maybe just graft the DT database onto Cocoatech’s Pathfinder interface, which is the best way of browsing OSX I know of. There’s a collaboration here …


Here are the random things that I might want to have:

I’d like DT to have a “beautiful” interface. I’m not sure exactly what that is, and the interface has made some big improvements over the years, but I’m sure there’s room for improvement.

I’d like better Rich Text editing. Specifically, I’d like to have a better style system, with features like automatically setting the style of the next line after a header. I’d like a difference between paragraph styles and character styles. I’d like to be able to define list styles.

I’d like a way to add a record to the OCR queue from AppleScript, rather than hanging the script while OCR completes.

I would sort of like an easier way to create powerful templates. The AppleScript-enabled templates you can use with DT are absolutely awesome, and I’ve created a few for myself. But I’m not sure that they’re accessible to everyone. Not sure how to fix this.


Hello all,

I’m hoping the OP doesn’t mind if I jump in here - but not sure my ramblings deserve a new thread…

I’m an incredibly satisfied user of DTPO - safe to say it has completely revolutionised my daily workflow, and has converted what was an increasingly chaotic and unwieldy collection of academic folders, into an ‘open’, accessible and increasingly rich metacognitive environment for me! :wink: In short - I’ve unlocked my own DB - and am now merely struggling to get my head around how much information is to be found, and managed!

But with this all being said, if I were to spew forth a wish list of things that I would like to see in DTPO [and let’s assume for a moment I had a magic-wand, to be waved in the general direction of the DTPO team, to have it all done during the course of a cup of coffee! :smiley: ], I can come up with the following:

a.) Improved Search functionality, specifically regards to the “Near/5” option

When I want to find “Trade Union” within 5/10 words of “Liability”, I would prefer not to have to wade through all the instances that “Trade Union” OR/AND “Liability” appears in the document. I’m obviously only interested in the occurrence, where the former is within 5/10 words to the latter - nothing else. I realise this is obviously easier said than done - but hey, it’s a wish(!) list!

b.) Numbering of occurrences of search ‘hits’/instances within document

It would be useful(?) if, when I call up search when viewing a PDF, somewhere an indication could be given of how many times that item appears in the document.

For instance, I sometimes select several pdf’s, and then run the search through each of them. Being able to “see” that the term appears in Document X 28 times, as opposed to only twice in Document Y - will have me focus on the former, rather than the latter. If this could be incorporated (unless it is already, and I’ve simply missed it?) in the PDF sidebar - so I can ‘see’ where in the document the hits are - and let’s push the limits here, shall we - together with an indication of how many times it appears, per page, it would be beyond [insert positive adjective].

c.1) The option NOT to have tags automatically alphabetised in the tag-bar

The ability to have me place tags in the order I choose, and have this order maintained, each time I open the pdf/‘see’ the tag-bar at the bottom of the screen when the pdf is selected in 3-column view - would allow me to introduce a further ranking order to my tags. I.e. place tags that symbolise the ‘crux’/main point of the article 1st and 2nd - and then have them followed by the still-related, but less focused tags.

I select the document, drop my eyes to the bottom of the screen, and can instantly ‘see’, despite there being 10/20/30 tags associated with this pdf, the crux of the pdf, as demonstrated by whatever Tag1/Tag2 is, before all the others.

c.2) Colour-code selected tags

An alternative to the above. Tag the document as you normally would. Find the ‘crux’ tags - right-click them, and select ‘Focus’, or whatever. The tag is then coloured RED/Green/Fuschia, whatever, to distinguish it from the other ‘normal’/group tags. If, coupled to this, I could search for ‘Focus’ tags, my life would be complete! :wink:

I realise I could replicate the above, by simply introducing an additional tag, with a Crux-suffix. I.e. have “Trade Union” and “Trade Union_Crux”, and could then search for the latter. But I fear that would result in possibly hundreds of ‘extra’ tags, which the two suggestions above, would avoid.

d.) Annotation improvements

The current features are arguably adequate. They certainly are on par with almost every other pdf annotator, readily available on a Mac [not that I’ve tried more than 5, but work with me! :slight_smile: ]. But then again, it’s not as if any of these are brilliant in the first place. And I again presume that a fair amount of DTP(O) users spend a fair amount of time annotating??

Some features that could make the world of difference–

  • Floating annotation menu.

Select text - and have a quick menu pop-up in the vicinity of the selection, allowing for a quicker changing of options, if needed. [Or write something for Popclip - it’s already there, but nothing appears to be on offer for annotating inside DTPO.] I’m so needy for this, I’m about to take delivery of a Wacom Bamboo pad, just to see if it helps at all. [I’m quite clearly a sad individual, that needs to get out more often. I blame the voices.]

** More customisable options, iro the annotations.

Allow to underline text in a colour corresponding to those selected for the highlighting. Squiggly lines? Line thickness selection etc. etc. Basically, just take all the best features from all the main pdf annotators, and roll them out in DTPO. Easy. :wink:

*** (And while Im floating around in the clouds…) The ability to ‘search’ by colour.

Yes. Ridiculous…

I highlight VITAL points in red. Points/sentences/paragraphs that are worthy of a quote, in purple. Something I need to look up/explore further/confirm, in electric blue. In my utopian future-DTPO world, I will be able to call up search inside a pdf, and select the option to search for a specific colour used inside that pdf - and then have the option to jump forward to the each selection, that was highlighted with Red/Purple/Electric blue etc.

Again, I realise that the above is most-likely devoid of reality - given that I know as much about programming, as about the mating-patterns of the North Sea Clam.

So I realise that we sit here and go “why can’t you just do X/Y/Z”… and the programmer goes - to do X, will take 3 years. To do Y, we simply need to invent a new programming language, and to do Z, will require Divine Intervention.

But hey - it’s still a wish list! :smiley:


AMEN, Cassady!! Someone gets it! :mrgreen: (You understand far more about software development than you think you do!)


Amen to Cassady for a couple of reasons-the list of suggestions is worth also. My addition to the list of enhancements to tagging is a tag cloud to replace/augment the current tag view.


Thanks Greg!

Re the Tag-cloud - think it might have been korm(?) that suggested Ammonite. Cost $5, I think - well worth it. Lightweight, and works a charm in how it integrates with DTPO - if you’re wanting a tag-cloud, then until something gets done inside DTPO, it’s a worthy stop-gap, imo.


Tag clouds.

I like Ammonite but it is aging and very 2000s looking. I really like BubbleBrowser.


I’ll have to take a look at BubbleBrowser. I bought Ammonite early on, and while the latest release with the light/dark theme preference is an improvement, I still struggle with the look of it. I really liked Punakea, a lot. But just as soon as Mavericks with tagging came out and one might think that interest in Punakea would take off, the developer abandoned it and made it available to the public domain.


BubbleBrowser (1)

size=85 from a look-and-feel perspective – its domain is limited to Evernote. (Yes, Jim, good things do happen in Everland. :wink: )[/size]


I’d love to see DTPO go upscale. It’s an awesome product and it’s annoying to be at the upper limit of its capabilities knowing there simply isn’t any competition. I’d love to see DTPO linked to SQL Server or POSTGRESQL.


Just a couple of things that are at the more “enterprise” end of things, but which would be incredibly useful:

  1. The ability to set up scan templates, so DTPO can place a document into a group depending on what is OCR’d in a particualr part of the page
  2. Support for seperator pages so that multiple documents can be batch scanned



I’m sorry … I have no idea what that means. DEVONthink is good, but it is annoying that there isn’t a competing product that’s better? What’s the feature request in that?


I’d like to see some degree of what I’d call ‘Hazel-ification’ - that is, the ability for the user to create conditional rules that would allow the tagging and filing of documents in folders or groups within a DTPO database, without human intervention other than, if necessary, the initial dropping of the document on the Sorter or another active folder, or the use of a bookmark, or the scanning of paper. Even better if before filing the document could be automatically renamed according to its (OCR’d) content, again following user-specified rules.

I understand the risks inherent in such a strategy. However, for me it already works successfully within a Finder hierarchy that’s Hazel-ruled and then indexed by DevonThink. I’d like to see it work within DTPO databases (or, alternatively, I’d like DevonThink databases to be made transparent to Hazel, and malleable by it).


Like this ^^ !!


Yes! I think this is a very important feature lacking today. The ability to conditionally execute action code in a smart group depending on the results found by that group. Tinderbox does this to a very extensive degree with “Actions” – smart-group-like containers that perform queries and then operate on the results.

There is very big risk for users who do not understand the complexity or power.

Another feature along these lines would be macros, that could operate both inside and outside smart groups and be keystoke-activated. This feature also needs a macro builder – like what Automator or Keyboard Maestro does. DEVONthink has a very extensive script dictionary but scripting is daunting for many people who don’t want to deal with all the debugging and logic design, and strange syntax.


Stay tuned :slight_smile:


ROFL! (Did you know I was just sitting here in the shadows, biting my tongue? :mrgreen: ) Well played, sir! :^)


Thank you for the guidance.