Zettelkasten and compatibility with "The Archive"

I want to create a text file Zettelkasten as described by the folks at this site: zettelkasten.de/the-archive/ to be compelling, in terms of portability and compatibility in the future, so I’m looking for ways to combine these tools.

I’m hoping that some people can check my assumptions here on the possibilities and constraints I’m seeing–maybe there’s a path I hadn’t considered. I’m guessing there are quite a few folks who have gone down this road before that might be able to help out, and some folks who are looking to do the same thing.

  1. Keep text files in Dropbox in a directory that is accessible by The Archive and 1Writer on iOS (and any other dropbox note taking app). Index this folder in DevonThink. On Mac, use the “see also” and other search tools to find connections. Wiki links that work in The Archive and 1Writer also work on DevonThink for Mac with the Wiki setting turned on. Don’t use DevonThink on iOS. (Or sync the database to iOS via DevonThink sync store, but don’t edit any files on iOS since these edits will disrupt the indexed files or maybe not even get synced back at all).
  2. Avoid The Archive and just use DevonThink with Markdown links. Make links via x-devonthink capability and accept that these links will only work in DevonThink. (Although maybe someone clever knows a way to convert all these UUID-based links into something more interoperable?). Use DevonThink on Mac and iOS to view and edit files.
  3. Avoid The Archive and just use DevonThink with RTF links (which has nicer linking affordances in the UI). If I want to pull out of DevonThink at some point, I can convert all the RTF files to HTML, then maybe convert those to Markdown? Has anyone tried this? (edit: I did try this with a few simple files and it seemed to work well, using DevonThinks “export as web site” command. Not sure what complications may arise with real data. Only complication is that all links point to .html files, but this could be fixed probably with a search/replace)

I’m thinking it’s not possible to have the files stored in DevonThink, but then accessible and editable via The Archive? Because DevonThink stores them in a range of folders that wouldn’t be meaningful in The Archive.

Also–it would be great to be able to bring Tinderbox into the mix sometimes, with its great ability to drag and drop notes from DevonThink and have them stay in sync. I’m guessing this only works with approaches 2 & 3 above, not with indexed files as in approach 1.

Am I making any incorrect assumptions here? Missing out on other options or approaches? Not considering additional gotchas?

A few more tests has revealed that it is possible to convert x-devonthink links in markdown files to standard file-path based links. If you take a folder of markdown files in DevonThink with x-devonthink links, use the “convert to website” option in DevonThink’s export menu, you then end up with plain HTML files that have file path links to each other, instead of x-devonthink links. These HTML files can be easily converted to Markdown files, and the .html links can be find/replaced to .md links

Sorry to revive this old thread, I only occasionally read this forum. I just wanted to say that this third option is how I have implemented a Zettelkasten in DEVONthink: RTF files with links pointing to each other or the references as PDF files. (I have some horrible but functional AppleScripts with keyboard shortcuts to check all the links are functional and to add backlinks on any Zettel that is referenced. I’ve been wanting to share these with the community – but someone more skilful at AppleScript should really check them before I share them as they are currently hard-coded for my database set-up, contain next to no error handling and are very inefficient in terms of the number of AppleEvents they use.)

I am not particularly worried about portability – first of all, RTF isn’t really a proprietary format. If I were ever forced to leave DEVONthink, I’d probably use:

  • some simple AppleScript to export the RTF files using their UUIDs as names,
  • Brett Terpstra’s excellent Markdown Service Tools for macOS (see https://brettterpstra.com/projects/markdown-service-tools/) to convert RTF to Markdown or plain text
  • and some regular expressions in Keyboard Maestro to search and replace the links in the individual files with appropriate links for some other software.

The Archive does indeed currently look like the next best implementation – even if I’m not sure how you’d work on iOS.

Months later I wanted to chime in here. After trying to live in Devonthink and DTTG to go exclusively, I have frankly become rather frustrated with DTTG. The linking and difficulty in editing (and not losing links) has driven me to a new solution for my zettelkasten. I now am using a combination of drafts and 1writer on my portable devices which read all my .txt files from a dropbox folder. I am then using Devonthink to index that Dropbox folder. The one tricky thing is navigating my hashtags - which serve as tags in 1writer, and I am converting to tags in DT.

Would you be willing to share these and see if we can’t give it a go to make the scripts more universally accessible? I would be very interested in helping out with this.

In principle yes, however, I currently do not have the spare time needed to prepare the two key scripts (Link Checker and Move to Separate Zettel) for sharing. Todo list, for myself mostly:

  • Translate German AppleScript comments into English.
  • Track the interlocking Keyboard Maestro macros (which are usually to do with the formatting only)
  • Move the “settings” variables, i.e. folder names, to the top.

This should take me about half an hour. I’ll put a note into my todo system and will see if and when I get around to it. I’d then just be sharing the scripts, I don’t really see myself supporting any significant further development efforts – but I think to get them to a functional stage for anyone with reasonable tech skills should not be particularly difficult.

Many thanks in advance; this would be most appreciated! :slight_smile: