What's the purpose of having multiple document types?

Hi all,

I find it a bit confusing to have 3 document types. This means I have to know in advance how to use the document, and what kind of information I want to store in which way.
For example http links: They do not work in plain text or formatted notes. If I started in a formatted note and need a link I have to transfer my information to another type of document.

That doesn’t make any sense to me from user perspective. What is the advantage of doing so?

I think the fomatting options in the documents themselfs are a bit complicated too. I would prefer to have something more like a markup language condensed in menus or shortcuts (like markdown). I’m not talking about implementing markdown, as it is just a reduced set of html that is easier to write. What I think of is marking textelements as header, subheader, code, etc. by selecting this from a menu. Then applying a stylesheet (that might be customized by the user).
Currently for formatting I’m confronted with complicated and stuffed menus. Who really uses kern, ligature or baseline? Why is the formatting menu not identical to the context menu for formatting?

I would really like to hear your thoughts.


What “3 document types” are you talking about? Seems like there’s some information missing in the question.

Markdown documents are documents that use the markdown markup language. HTML uses, well, HTML. Formatted documents are a hybrid of HTML and RTF, but the encoding (like with RTF) is hidden from the user.

There are no native DEVONthink document types – no formats proprietary to DEVONthink. Document editing is not intended to be the core strength – document management and data discovery are the core strengths. So DEVONthink is an open environment that works with almost every document type available from all the apps on your computer. “Works with” means – display and search content; apply the AI to the content for See Also and Classify.

Not meaning disrespect – but why is that confusing?

You can add clickable links to Formatted Note documents, but you have to use the Make link command to create it. Just pasting a URL into the document won’t work. You can paste a URL into both a plain text document as well as a Formatted Note, then select the entire URL, and then right-click to open the link.

Please provide more information. Even DEVONthink Personal has five basic templates.

I’m talking about the 3 document types here: http://imgur.com/0bVzTGr
(Sorry, couldn’t embed an image)

I’m sorry, I was unprecise. Of course I was talking about 3 document types you can create from within Devon Think. Or are there more? I’m new to Devon Think…

This is obviously the mistake I made. I thought that self created documents are the main way to get information into Devon Think.

Confusing is that I have to know in advance what kind of information I intend to write. Do I have to format it later? Then plain text is not OK. But I don’t know that right from the start.

Self-created documents are one of the ways to get information into DEVONthink. Depending on your needs, the editing capabilities of DEVONthink can be sufficient for many Users. (I write documents in it every day.)

Generally speaking, you should have a good idea what your formatting needs are before you start writing. What is your end product or end User? Does it need to “look pretty” (and yes, this can be a purely aesthetic thing)? Is this going to be on the web or a mobile device? Etc., etc. Also, note that you can convert from some formats to other specific formats (like rich text to plain text).

  1. Check out the Tips and tricks: devontechnologies.com/suppor … rials.html
  2. Check out DEVONthink’s Help menu and/or get a PDF copy of the manual from here: devontechnologies.com/downlo … nuals.html

I think this is the main point where we differ, and probably the reason why I have problems.

Anyway, thanks a lot your fast answers and the info links. Otherwise DT is almost exactly what I was looking for.



I agree that I don’t always know what format I want for a final work. I frequently use a mind-mapping application to outline and organize initial drafts – from that I can export the work at that stage – and finish it up later in a more formal heavy-weight editor. For me, a typical flow for writing papers or articles is to use iThoughtsX up to the point where I think I’ve got the basic flow of ideas organized. Then I export that to Markdown and work with it in Ulysses. I either export from Ulysses to PDF, or I export to Word or Pages format and finish up work that needs to have good tables or images.

For casual stuff, I use Ulysses.

The glue in this process is Markdown – so you could use DEVONthink for Markdown editing instead of Ulysses. I avoid rich text editing until the final stages of writing because I tend to get lost in format over substance. I personally think the Formatted Note kind is a bit odd – but I know others here really like it (Greg?). I never write in HTML - who does?

I developed my approach in part because I need to work on iPad a part of the time and compatibility with Markdown is important – it is the best format for multi-platform compatibility, IMO.

I almost exclusively use plain text and markdown, like korm, and save the formatting for later. unless, of course, i already have some final product in mind, and the formatting decisions are already made (handouts for classes).

in devonthink, plaintext notes can contain links to other notes (adjust this setting in the preferences), so you can create a wiki out of plain text notes (simply type in the name of the file you want to link).

in general, i’ve found that i don’t use most of the tools dt offers (and i remove unnecessary ones from the toolbar), but i am glad to know the options are there just in case i need them someday. most apps i have used lack this depth.

I use plain text documents and Markdown documents the most, but I do prefer Formatted Note to the RTF(D) format. The RTF format has never been well supported on iOS, and some apps that did offer some support are ditching it (Ulysses is dropping its RTF export in favor of .docx). I use Notebooks on iOS and it uses a rich text format (in addition to plain text and Markdown) that is identical to Formatted Note. This makes it very simple for me to create (or convert HTML documents) Formatted Note documents in DEVONthink, save them in indexed Dropbox folders used by Notebooks, and then access/edit/create new Formatted Notes documents on iOS.

Funny you mention this as I just did write some HTML code 2 days ago just because I hadn’t for a long time now!

I use rich text as the medium for notes and drafts within DEVONthink. It’s rich enough to include text formatting, images, links, table and lists easily (which is to say, without having to fight it). I can transfer everything to a Pages document for polishing (editing, layout, footnoting) by copying the rich text to the clipboard and pasting it into Pages. From Pages the final version can be exported as MS Word or PDF, if desired.

I’m lazy and fixed in my ways. Markdown notes would be more file size efficient, and better suited for cross-platform viewing, including iOS. Apple’s rich text is not a good cross-platform vehicle. But I can adapt it easily enough, as in copy/paste to Pages to do final edit and layout, or opening in Bean to adjust margins. page-breaks and header, then print as PDF for quick conversion to cross-platform use. And it’s consistent with my preferred mode of capturing the primary content of Web pages as rich text using a Service (keyboard shortcut is Command-) to capture the selected area content) to capture a selected area of an HTML page. It’s also consistent with my use of Annotation notes for making notes about my references.

Most vehicles for writing come with a mix of advantages and disadvantages. Back in the old days I liked AppleWorks, and then BeagleWorks for writing, because of the versatility. But tthst wasn’t good for cross-platform distribution, and those old files cannot be used on a current Mac.

About ten years ago I had a fling with Papyrus for Mac. It has a very competent word processor, and equally competent spreadsheet and database components, much more powerful than AppleWorks (or Pages). What intrigued me about Papyrus was that its files, while remaining editable, could be viewed as PDF on any computer capable of viewing PDF. Amazing! I used Papyrus for a project that required developing a great many Standard Operating Procedure documents, each of which during development was made available to reviewers for comment and revised several times. As the final product was to be in PDF format, this worked very well; reviewers of drafts could see the proposed layout and content as PDF and respond by marking up and adding comments using a PDF viewer. Unfortunately, Papyrus was very un-Mac-like in design and function and wan’t modernized. Nowadays I rarely use it for that reason. As I said, I’m lazy. I prefer doing simple things as easily as possible. :slight_smile:

Thanks to everybody for all the tips :slight_smile:

I definetely have to try markdown and see how it fits my needs…


Good choice to explore (and yes, korm - I finally started working with it seriously two weeks ago, and… well, I guess I kinda fell in love! :open_mouth: :smiley: :laughing: )