I just discovered this http://maniacalrage.net/xpad/ competitor for DEVONnote, which has at least a couple of features (user defined categories and iPod note export) that I don’t think DN has. Would be nice to have those in DN. anyone else see anything useful in it that DN lacks?
I am not sure that user-defined categories would be useful to me as that is essentially what I use groups and classify for. DT Pro will have an export to iPod function-don’t know if there are plans to incorporate this feature into the other versions of DEVONthink/note.
DN/DT groups enforce a hierarchical structure on documents in the database. That’s fine when you want to organize like that but I often don’t need that structure, yet fall back to using it because the alternatives for “classification == group” aren’t quite enough to replace it (yet).
I’d like to easily assign categories/keywords/labels/tags to documents and use those (and other attributes) to select (via searching/browsing) and organize data, when and how I want, with or without a hierarchical structure. The choice of which group(s) a document “belongs” in could then become more of an option rather than picking a static location, similar to adding tracks in the master iTunes library to zero or more playlists.
I’m seriously considering abandoning the overcomplicated hierarchical group structure of my primary DT Pro database, or definitely simplifying it, in favor of a more basic iTunes-like library/playlist structure. A full database search is fast (enough); what’s lacking are a few more searchable attributes (e.g. categories/keywords) to filter and refine the results.
Re: xPad. Looks nice for what it does but I doubt it scales well as the number of documents increases.
Agreed about XPad – look OK for small projects, but harder to find info for more complex tasks. But it appears to be focused more on the small stuff anyway, and for most people, that’s probably enough, which is why it looks like a bit of a threat to DN, which is also aimed in part at less demanding tasks.
I really like your idea of an iTunes style organizational scheme. If you figure out a good one, please let us know how it works! My only real gripe with DN so far has been the lack of user assigned categories, for the same reason you mentioned: some items qualify in multiple categories. But as the developers pointed out in another thread, using the contextual menu and the search function (and even the labels, perhaps) provides most of the same functionality.
Your point about them not being quite as precise is valid, though – sometimes a search provides too many results, where multiple user assigned categories would give me exactly what I"m looking for. But so far, it’s not been a major problem for my uses; I’ll know more when I start my next big project.
The larger point is that DT and DN strive to allow us to organize our info not in a single way but in different ways as appropriate to our needs, which makes them so much more flexible and useful than the competition. Adding user defined categories would increase that flexibility.
Thanks, brett. I’ll write up a usage scenario if I can come up with something that works effectively that way.
I also like making comparisons with Gmail, with its lack of traditional mailboxes in favor of labels. There’s no copying/moving messages (between mailboxes) in Gmail, they’re labeled/unlabeled instead. Messages aren’t “saved” to specific mailboxes; they can “appear” in none or many virtual mailboxes, created using labels/searches. And it almost works; more about that below.
And you can use replicates so items appear in multiple groups, but searches only return one match for them and using Next/Previous Instance to locate others is awkward (IMO). Then again, I don’t care where an item is when I’m only interested in its content.
I use labels as a simple way of marking “priority” items, but eight of them isn’t enough (“red” means something here, and something else there) and they’re not searchable (only sortable within groups).
Comments could contain user-defined categories/keywords, but I don’t do that because it’s too unstructured. And there’s no way to assign comments to multiple items at a time.
I haven’t figured out if Wiki aliases might be useful for me. I’ve written about troubles I have with Wiki links in other posts (e.g. how to find them).
And that’s what I hoped would be possible with Gmail labels/searching, but they haven’t taken it far enough (yet) so it can suffer from the “too many results” symptom, without enough granularity to easily and accurately (de)select/collect/view specific results you want to see (and hide – just as important!). There’s too much sloppiness, which is more forgivable with web search results than e-mail search results (for me anyway).
Something like that; I’m not having my best explanation day.
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Christian has said categories and/or keywords are on the plate for a 2.x release, but I’m not going to search for his posts right now.
To summarize (finally):
I’m struggling to coax DT’s “static” group hierarchy to behave more like “virtual” groups, while retaining the benefits of both methods of organization. What seems missing to achieve that are something like categories as peers to groups, giving items more “location-independence” within a database. Categories are one way of reducing the need to move items to groups in order for them to appear in groups.
Thanks for the discussion!