559: Research Apps

Oh yes please! I’ve been playing with the beta today, but haven’t linked it up with my Obsidian vault yet (wanted to understand the app itself first).

Also, can you explain your URL scene comment further up? What would you do we this new feature for?

Generally speaking I find Roam less friction to just start typing than Obsidian for whatever reason, but I have decided to go with Obsidian because of a certain frustration with the random feature adding based on tweets, leaving features that should be native to outside JavaScript developers (despite saying that too many js additions will slow down the database) and despite know data loss just rolling the responsibility to the user.

I think they are both terrific in their fundamental function and thanks to @MacSparky I had the epiphany of not trying to do too much (as in “everything!”) in them.

Biggest problem that I don’t understand why it isn’t higher on the feature list is how to get text out of these app to work with Word.

This sounds grumpy, which gives the wrong impression - I just gave a lecture using Obsidians beautiful graph view and slide show feature. It was fun!


What about Finder? I find all the web-based stuff cool, but Finder gives me what I need when it comes to knowledge organization and works well with automation.
I don‘t quite get why some features like „takes this and that file format“ are so great, Finder does that since the 90‘s. Finder integrates with Files on iOS and iPadOS and is not a weird electron app. Ok the web app (icloud) is quite bad, but I never use that, anyway:)
(Guess I’m playing devils advocate a bit here)


Yes and spotlight and other search methods mean some of these “data boxes” are fighting for long term relevance, … these are lovely apps DEVONthink et al, but increasingly they are presentational tools???

Great episode. Like many of you, my backend has been in DevonThink and I love it. Have been using Drafts archive to store research notes, but thinking about exporting those and cross linking them in Obsidian. Does anyone have a recommendation on what kind of material they would keep in a Drafts archive versus go into Obsidian? I think @MacSparky was using Drafts Archive to store for a while, but it sounds like its this + Obsidian.

Curious to hear insights from the community… as well as if you had a go to drafts exports workflow to align well with Obsidian

Here’s the guide to Obsidian + NotePlan some have asked for: Using Obsidian and NotePlan together

It’s also a bit of a review of the combo.

Hope I captured every step!


My god, how is it even possible it’s a couple who just had a kid?! I can’t remember following software I liked this much that just surprises you every week with improvements like this. I certainly don’t want to set the bar of expectation because what’s already there is so solid. And Dynalist! So impressive.

I wish they could walk their way into a Roam pot of money without the exhorbitant subscription model. I’ve suggested they come out with an incredibly high priced iOS app.


Ha! I don’t know either way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve turned down investment. They seem focused on designing and making good tools for people, and on being the people doing that design/development, rather than chasing investment dollars and having someone else tell them what to build. Who knows what the future may hold, but I trust ‘em!


I think The Brain version 12 might be at a point now where it could be considered either in conjunction thin with or in competition with Devonthink and/or Roam.


Hmmm, if “competition” means alternative, I wouldn’t ever consider TheBrain as an alternative to DEVONthink. Roam, yes.

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TheBrain 12 is very nice!
I’ve been using it to augment Finder and keep up with the dumpster fire that are my files for my research, source code, data sets, processed data, graphs, figures, etc.
It allows me to link them visually, add notes, etc., while leaving them in place on my drives, so all my code doesn’t break by moving them around. In this way, it is similar to Hook, but better for me in that it has a visual interface.
Then there’s all the markdown, linking, backlinks, mentions, etc. that have been added in v12.

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Yep. The visualization in TheBrain is vastly better than the silly graph views in Obsidian and Roam.

I’ve also been linking from notes in TheBrain to files in an Obsidian vault – and indexing those files in DEVONthink – so it’s excellent that a set of documents can operate across apps this way.

(Just don’t move the file in the filesystem!)


And it is a very thorough guide and review. Thank you for doing it.

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I would be willing to pay a lot for a mobile app.

Perhaps, if it’s free it can’t be good? :smile: Many years ago I sneaked a Mac mini into work just for documentation. Dumped everything on it and searched easily with Finder. At one point I tried DevonThink and thought it too clunky (apparently there has since been a refreshed interface) as well as unnecessary. Finder sure beat Windows built-in search as well as a couple of third party tools I tried with it.

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Fantastic and timely episode! I’ve been dabbling with Obsidian and interfacing it with my iA Writer library of markdown files and it seems very interesting. I still cannot see how useful the Zettelkasten method can be for my research (I am a researcher in a STEM field) but as suggested, I intend to try and keep my progress files in there and also try to thrown in notes of ideas based on the hope that “digital connections” can potentially help me in connecting lines of evidence.

Last year I started to run DT in a VM, because I was not sure I wanted to upgrade to DT3.

For a few weeks now I’ve been looking for a tool to help me manage DPA announcements, court verdicts and regulatory documents. Listening to this episode reminded me again why I had bought Devonthink. My use of it sort of migrated over the years, but it was first and foremost a way to link documents, make connections between items and being able to quickly search for them.

TL;DR: I upgraded my DT license yesterday.


One of my favorite uses of Devonthink was during some continuing education courses for theology. At the end of 6 weeks I would dump my reading notes, essays, lectures, etc. into devonthink and use it to write my final paper. It made it so much nicer to surface those connections. Then I could leave it in there or move it out.

I think that was nice because it was a project, and I could move stuff in and out as needed. Sometimes these research apps seem amazing, but also overwhelming. It’s kind of like when you learn to program and they say you’ll do much better if you already have a project, same with something like guitar.


Anybody else just want a @MacSparky podcast all about about the SparkyOS? I think it would be super interesting and helpful. Maybe on Focused.


Has anyone tried Craft?