What does the future hold for DEVONthink?

I would question if you will ever see iCloud sync as DEVONthink Pro (Office) would have to be sandboxed for the App store.

Handoff looks like a promising feature for some applications such as email, writing apps, etc., but how would one use it with DEVONthink?

Exactly. I import all my mail into DT, take most of my notes, use it to hold most of my research.

Why can’t DT sandbox it? I would be much happier paying Apple more per year for 1 TB of iCloud storage than trusting DropBox or (never gonna happen) Google.

I love DTPO, and I understand them not wanting to give up 30% to be on the App Store (though I’d rather they raise their price by 30%), but not being willing to sandbox sounds like laziness to me.

If I knew how to code, I’d offer to help. DTPO is an impressive achievement, but it’s not man’s greatest accomplishment. If need be, they should have a chat with Tim Cook. DT is a great bastion of Mac wonderfulness; I’m sure they would listen if they would at least try.

I would gleefully support a Kickstarter for a 2015 version of DTPO that supports all the latest stuff for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. It’s only going to get worse after next year’s WWDC.

Yes, ridicule is always a good way to get developers to do their best work. Sometimes, researching the facts is useful also.

I import mail into DEVONthink, take notes, and use it to hold all my research. I’ve done it for may years without Handoff, so I still do not see how one might use it with DEVONthink?

I could be wrong, I could be very wrong, but at this point it remains to be seen if Handoff is a (my words) promising feature. I expect that Handoff will require using the same app on both platforms (Mail.app, Pages, Numbers, etc.). I can begin an email today with Dispatch on iOS, save it as a draft, and then continue to edit it on the Mac with Mail (or Postbox, or Air Mail). Same thing is true with Markdown or PDF documents saved to iCloud or Dropbox…

Handoff looks impressive in a demo, but how many people will actually use it on a regular basis? Reminds me of the satellite tv provider that used to heavily advertise that one could go from room-to-room, tv-to-tv, picking up a movie right where it was left off. How many people do that on a regular basis? Again, I’m prepared to say I was wrong about Handoff, but at least for now, that’s not near the top of my list of iOS8/OSX Yosemite features that I’m looking forward to using.

From a developer and functionality standpoint, sandboxing is (1) not trivial, or (2) not all that desirable.
Also, the Mac App Store has many drawbacks that would affect you far more than you’d want to admit. You may not feel it with a lower level app, but DTPO is not a low-level app.

IMO, Handoff would be a very bad trade to make for what we could lose and the potential for grief.

I think I agree with BLUEFROG in substance, but I would disagree on the specific wording. I agree with point 1. I would personally change 2 to “not always desirable”.

Since DEVONthink has a web browser and displays PDFs, sandboxing it is useful for the same reasons as Safari and Preview. Both PDFs and web pages have been used as attack vectors in the past.

In theory, you should be able to do almost everything within a sandboxed environment you can outside of one. You can structure programs so that privileged actions are taken by very simple programs that can be audited. Those programs can have entitlements which allow them to do more things than the base program, and since they do very little, they are easier to secure.

That’s where point 1 comes in: this can be a huge amount of reengineering. So it’s not a matter of whether sandboxing is desirable, it’s a matter of whether spending the effort on sandboxing is more desirable than spending that effort somewhere else. The only user-visible feature you’d get is “buy from App Store”. You would get real improvements in security, but DEVONthink is not a high-profile target so those improvements are unlikely to help many users. Time spent improving sync, speeding up database access, or improving the AI would be much more valuable to the user base.

Well said, alan - though I will add that I personally would rather run with no sandboxing at all and I think “entitlements” is a lousy idea. I think these things serve to stifle innovation on a personal level and smells more and more like WindoZe. Just my opinion.

My intention was certainly not ridicule.

I LOVE DTPO and have grown pretty fond of DevonAgent too. I believe the developers have done an incredible job.

However, I do believe that Apple would be willing to negotiate or offer alternatives to whatever DT believes keeps them from sandboxing. This is a marquee application. I’m pretty sure they would listen.

The “laziness” I refer to is that Apple closed a door and DT seems to have just said “Well, that won’t be happening.” I would hope they would kick and scream, write letters, air their views on podcasts, do an interview with MacWorld…stuff like that.

Instead, it’s just…can’t sandbox…run away…

Apple has shown in the latest WWDC that they’re listening; they just opened up a whole bunch of interfaces; shouldn’t they at least be confronted with the issues that face DT? What harm would it do to not give up the first time they say no?

So the laziness does not apply to the developers as much as to the business folk behind DT. C’mon guys…PUSH!!!

And if I had that much contempt for DT, I wouldn’t spend most of my day in it or telling people that it is THE must have app for the Mac and, hopefully one day, the iPhone and iPad too.


Respectfully, I can only presume you feel that Android is superior to iOS as well,

Apple is doubling down on security and privacy, which can’t be considered a bad thing.

Windows allows all the innovation you seem to desire, but DT is not on Windows.

I’m sure the DT developers are incredibly smart, but so are the guys at Microsoft, and at OpenBSD (who developed OpenSSL) and at Cisco. Yet, so many of these products have incredibly large security holes.

If you’re an advocate for great software, why wouldn’t you welcome the security net that sandboxing provides and work with Apple to improve the solution.

Comparing something to Windows (Windoze) doesn’t help your point; it shows that you’re not thinking and just want to lash out…the essence of an “ad hominem” attack.

I have no doubt that it involves work. They’ve already done it for DT personal. One presumes they can leverage that work for the higher-end variants.

Has DT ever done a vulnerability scan on the DT code base?

I say again, I would merrily pay $50 more for DTPO through the App Store. For that matter, I would cheerfully buy another copy, just for the convenience of having it on the App Store and having iCloud sync.

@driverdude: I ahev on idea what you’re on about.

My complaint is that sandboxing / entitlements / etc. are more like Microsoft behavior, not Apple behavior. Microsoft has spent years putting a stranglehold on Users and has limited innovation to the point that David has slain Goliath.

Sandboxing is NOT the panacea and it does limit the functionality of apps. (How would you like a version of DTPO with no scriptability? What about no choices on where you can store a database, or no Direct Connection Syncs?) It’d be much easier to get those into the App Store than what we have now.) Do I think a “less secure” (whatever that really means) environment is worth it, to allow for greater innovation? ABSOLUTELY, when “less secure” opens opportunities for real progress and not infringing on information access.

You know, if sandboxing was the best idea in the world, then why isn’t is mandatory? Why not just lock down the OS, disallow any exceptions in Gatekeeper, and demand that ALL software is through the App Store only? The fact that Apple has allowed behavior that could “potentially harm” your machine is quite telling. I think they know that they can’t… yet.

Also, you have a very uninformed view of our relationship / clout with Apple. The tail does not wag the dog, and we aren’t even close to being a tail. Even WWDC isn’t about “Hey, fellas - let’s get together and you tell us how things should be.” It’s about, “Hello, everyone. We’d like to introduce what WE have decided the world needs and we will give you a week of our time to get you up to speed on what you’re going to need to change to conform to that vision. Thanks.” That is not to say Apple is the 800 lb gorilla Microsoft is, but you misunderstand the situation. If Apple honestly asked for our input, of course we’d love to talk and help shape things for everyone, but that is NOT happening (and if it is, it’s bigger fish than us).

PS: If the day ever comes where you can’t install anything outside the MAS, the Apple that Jobs built will be officially dead.
PPS: I hope I’m dead before I see that day.


Let me say first of all that I have nothing but respect for you, especially after hearing your podcast interview on 5x5/70 Decibels.

I’m also not trying to be a jerk about this.

DTPO is, literally, the only non-sandboxed, non-Apple app I use. When I go to my AppleScript Editor and browse dictionaries, I see many apps that have scripting capability, but were purchased FROM the App Store, including DevonAgent Pro.

Nisus Writer Pro
Mindnode Pro
Folding Text

How does scripting prevent DTPO from being in the Mac App Store if all these others have done it?

Okay, maybe you aren’t all going skiing with Craig Federighi this winter, but I doubt any app with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of loyal users goes unnoticed.

I see great benefit in running only sandboxed apps. Even the best developers make mistakes or have a bad day. I still don’t understand why DTPO requires such absolute control over the entire machine.

It’s your customers who should be the focus of attention, not your “right” to information access as developers. I have apps that use my scanners, do scripting and are scriptable, allow me to save to any folder I select, and they’re still sandboxed, purchased from the App Store.

There’s still no explanation so far on what DTPO does that’s so different from every other sandboxed app.

I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to make an enemy of you. I’m just pointing out that things may have changed since DT first evaluated the App Store.

Let me say, (1) thanks for the kind words on the podcast, and (2) I mean no disrespect for you either.

The example of Applescript was only that (and partially based on early discussions of removing Applescript as a potential “threat” to Users’ data).

DTPO doesn’t require “absolute control” over a machine, but many of our Users want far more control and sandboxing can make it more difficult to fulfill requests or bring new features to you all.

Also, this has NOTHING to do with “developer access”. I am referring to a User having as much access to their own data through whatever apps they want to run. As a veteran scripter, one of the things I love about Macs is that I can access my data via Applescript, Javascript, Python, bash, or whatever combination I want. This is my machine and my data and I should be able to decide whether I want to safeguard my data, not Apple. If you or others want the sandbox, that’s okay but it isn’t necessarily going to allow all the functionality you want.

Also, also… How would you feel if DEVONthink 3 came out:

  1. On the App Store, but sandboxed and therefore not the same feature set as the non-MAS version? Would it still be worth it to you?

  2. There was a critical bug fix but since you had the MAS version you couldn’t get it because the reviewer at Apple got stood up on a blind date last night and decided to refuse our submission? (No offense to any broken hearts on the App Store staff. 8) ) This is a real problem with the MAS (the refusals, not the bad dating experiences (as far as I know) LOL). Meanwhile, non-MAS Users are happily bug fixed and working away…

  3. And consider this… with the App Store market, what if it wasn’t profitable to put it on the App Store (and I’m not saying it is or isn’t)?

Just some things to consider. Cheers!

  1. But which features would I lose? I wouldn’t lose scripting, or scanning or the ability to have multiple databases, so I would be a pretty happy camper. I would gain some assurance of security against zero day issues, the ability to update all my software from one place, possibly iCloud sync instead of having to pay Dropbox and, extremely low rates ($50/year for 200GB, $100 for 1 TB). Sounds like a win to me. Add Handoff so that I can move from my Mac Pro at work to my MacBook Air or iPad for a meeting or trip home and back to my rMacBook Pro at home without needing to go through contortions, especially since my Macs can sync iCloud data during Power Nap. That would be a life changer. No more copying my database onto an expensive memory stick (they get pricey for USB 3.0 at 256GB or larger) and then forgetting the memory stick. Yes, that would be worth it.

  2. With my other MAS purchases, I’ve experienced delays, but they’ve never been prolonged for a critical issue. A 2-3 day delay has been the worst so far. Honestly, software quality on the MAS seems to have improved. Folding Text is the only app that’s frequently broken for me. The other guys seem to be regression testing enough that they never send out an app that’s horribly broken.

  3. Obviously I wouldn’t want DT to operate at a loss. Only DT can make that decision. But perhaps a DTPO for iCloud, special version, can bring in new customers?

Here are the challenges I’m aware of with sandboxing and DEVONthink Pro Office:

Applescript: Sandboxed apps can send applescript to itself, and can receive apple events, but they can’t send apple events to other apps without a separate entitlement. Those entitlements are specific to each app you want to access. This would make it difficult for DTPO’s scripting menu to offer all of the different interoperability scripts that it offers. It would make it even harder for you to download new ones and put them in their scripting menu (the way you can from the library).

Direct connect sync: I think you can get entitlements for this, but I’m not sure whether Apple would require it go through an XPC service or not.

Abbyy engine: No clues whether this is sandboxable yet. It’s much harder to make third-party things fit in entitlements. Certainly DOWNLOADING it from a server to install it is not allowed: the user would have to download it manually, or it would need to be bundled inside the app.

Putting your database anywhere: This would require every DB to be opened through the standard file dialog (aka power box). I think that security-scoped bookmarks could keep access to things, but that would require a lot of changes in file handling throughout the app.

Indexed files: Again, I think security-scoped bookmarks would handle this,… but I don’t know whether it could get a single bookmark to the whole indexed directory, or if it would need to save bookmarks to individual files. If individual files, then that’s going to get real messy.

Installing extensions: I’m not sure about this. I have a gut feeling that there has to be a way, but to be honest, every app I know with that uses extensions and is in the app store makes you download them separately. (E.g. 1password).

Sorter: Maybe?

Most issues can be resolved or are already (Sorter, Sync, Indexed Files).

Definitely impossible are the installation of a plugin for Apple Mail, the current ScanSnap integration, the installation of other extras like PDF services, application scripts or browser extensions and the usage of Spotlight mdimporter plugins. And therefore unknown third-party file types aren’t searchable anymore :frowning:

Anyway, technical issues aren’t the main obstacle. We don’t want to add 4 editions to the App Store without the possibility of upgrading. Therefore we’re currently working on a more user-friendly and less confusing line-up for future releases.

I’m afraid I don’t really have much to contribute over, in terms of the discussion in the thread, but I just want to say that I am really happy, and reassured, that DEVONthink has such a passionate user base.

That is all.

Update: Looks like I do have some stuff to contribute to, after reading the entire thread.

I don’t necessarily share the sentiment of paying an additional $50 more just for the sake of it being located on the Mac App Store, but I share the spirit.

I am very reluctant in purchasing apps outside of the Mac App Store nowadays. For new apps, it is a complete deal breaker. The only time I’ve skirted this rule is DTPO, and I believe that is my only exception.

The MAS provides quite a lot of benefits for both consumers and developers alike. For the former, the security and ease of mind provided, central updating systems, and license-less purchases (meaning you can redownload the app without digging up a DMG and your license key/file/serial code). For latter, greater discoverability and the ability to use Apple’s payment platform.

Trust me (or don’t. Up to you). Make it easy and accessible, and it will be used.

I bought an iPhone 5S and didn’t really think much about the fingerprint scanning TouchID feature. A mere gimmick, I told myself. Fast forward a few months, I look at my iPad and press my thumb against the home button, hoping for something to happen.

In regards to the editions issue – OmniGroup has that issue sorted. They provide an upgrade option within the app (for OmniFocus 2) via an In-App Purchase.

I personally prefer having 4 editions (as I hate IAPs for both apps and games) but the IAP system of upgrading works.

Exactly. Now that you’ve used it, any device without it seems “broken.”

Actually, the convenience of never needing to look for the *&%$ license key is worth it to me. I had a hard disk fail recently. All my apps except DTPO were purchased from the Mac App Store. Nearly all my data was in iCloud. After replacing the drive, it took about an hour to download Mavericks using recovery mode, enter my iCloud credentials and slurp down all of my apps. The data was all waiting for me. I had my DTPO info in a Pages document in iCloud, so the key wasn’t all that inconvenient, but waiting to get to my DTPO databases so I could restore them was painful.

It wasn’t the DTPO interface that seemed old; it was having to jump through hoops for DTPO when everything else was “click…done.” I started using 1Password recently as well, and, having your keychain in the cloud is…unbelievable.

Maybe I should be hoping DT doesn’t get with the program. Then I would have to force myself to learn to code instead of browsing this forum, frosty beverage in hand.

I guess what I’m saying to DT is “Don’t make me get off this couch!”

Personally speaking I dread the day we are forced to buy only from the MAS.

You already have three choices, MAS, a software provider of repute with an Apple signature, and then whatever you want off the net.

I think the first two are surely safe enough for most users, and the last option is also safe for very skilled folk who know what they are doing.

In the end the MAS is just a nightmare for finding anything. I personally find good software easier to discover on the net, and easy to research other user experience.

Like the IOS App Store the MAS is filled with drivel, and finding the good stuff is not easy.

In my personal experience, MAS software reviews are trivial, and generally useless for me.

But, each to his own. As long as DV, Scrivener, Hazel etc are all available outside MAS I will always buy direct. To me MAS is the last, and worst option.

I think I’m with peter999. All the ink spilled above (rather, electrons) about where and how DEVONthink sells its goods is irrelevant to the topic of this thread, and just about everything else in life. Personally, I care neither where a developer sells its goods, or how it gets paid. That has nothing to do with quality, features, and enjoyment from using the product. If Eric lived on the Moon, swapped recipes telepathically with Tim Cook, and got paid in Pop Rocks, I don’t care. He and his company make a great product, I’m willing to pay the price, and that’s that.

So, let’s get some more good ideas and dialog here about the product, not the store.