DevonThink - Past/Present Knowledge - Perfect Setup

I know the threads come up here a lot about DEVONthink questions. I think there’s more activity here regarding the topic than on the Devon forums sometimes :sweat_smile:

I’ve been going through several of the threads.
Importing vs Indexing
Stuck on the Bottom of the hill (my fave so far)
and the list continues…search results of DEVONthink

10 million dollar question…

Knowing what you know today and now, (and of course the available technologies/updates) - Is there anything that would change in your workflow for DEVONthink or in your setup to do a complete overhaul and start from scratch?

I think that’s probably an impossible question to answer in any respect that is universally helpful to DEVONthink users.

I’ve used DEVONthink for a dozen years, since early in v1.x, and written several thousand posts in their forum and others with tips for using the product. The only answer I can think of to the OP’s question is “no, because I never do anything the same way unless the project I’m working on requires it.”

(Little rant not directed at the questioner but the concept: “workflow” is something that people who do piecework do – like taking reservations, or filling prescription orders, etc. “Workflow” is not something researchers, people reading RSS feeds, academics, or people storing their recipes do.)



My use of DT has evolved over the years, so I don’t think I would scrap my current setup. Probably the biggest changes I’ve been through is having one huge (too large) database, then too many small databases, and now what I think are the Goldilocks databases.

Nearly all my resources are stored in the file system and indexed from DT. This allows access from programs like MATLAB, Finder, etc.

Some resources (reference PDFs) are indexed from two different databases. One includes things like presentations for journal club so I can use the magic hat to find related references. The other indexes the new zettelkasten I’ve started (using The Archive), and also indexes the PDFs. Again, the magic hat should provide some serendipitous insights as it considers my notes (zettels), and the PDFs and their references.

I’ve become more flexible in general app use, and no longer try to find the One True Way to do things (as quorm alluded too). For some things, a “workflow” is just overkill, whereas for others, multiple steps, some of which might even be redundant (notes in Agenda and nearly identical and linked items in Things3) can lead to better understanding of the project, its component steps, and even new insights into the work itself.
This post by @anon41602260 was very helpful in this regard. :beers:

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Ah, @anon41602260, I should have immediately recognized the homophonic name (I’m so glad autocorrect didn’t mangle homophonic! :grimacing:)
I couldn’t agree more with your argument about “workflow”. My tasks are constantly varying and are not piecemeal. Everything is always a process, or part of a process, and is not a discrete action or set of actions that can easily be put together in one or more useful configurations, or simply transplanted or carried across domains of my work.

This relates to the OP’s comment about, if I knew when I started with DEVONthink over 5 years ago what I know now, would I do something different. I honestly can’t answer that question because my “use” of DEVONthink is not locked in to an inalienable system. My use is ALWAYS in flux. The way I use it today doesn’t even closely resemble how I used it when I first adopted it. I’ve had more databases, less databases, more tagging, less tagging, tagging to indicate state, tagging to denote subject matter, tagging to denote projects, more groups, less groups, mostly indexed, no indexing, and every possible permutation of those.

This is not to say that my use is haphazard and that I’m constantly switching how I use it. It’s much more of an evolutionary thing, sliding into set of strategies and sliding into another as my work processes demand.

So I suppose to answer the OP’s question: Knowing then what I know now would I have started using DEVONthink differently, my answer is “no”. I started using DEVONthink in a way that my work demanded at the time. I’ve learned a lot in the meantime and perhaps there are a few little things about using DEVONthink that might have been a bit smoother (knowing keyboard shortcuts, some settings, different views etc), but knowing those things would have likely just led to me using DEVONthink in the same way I did but faster.

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Not really. My system has evolved a bit but it’s mostly been just getting my file naming scheme consistent and also my names for folders that hold electronic data in DT vs in Finder consisent for various subjects and projects. As to how I use it, while I am a heavy user I do not take advantage of the AI stuff and could do a lot more with it. As part of my 4th quarter revamp of my entire computer ecosystem I am looking at what apps I can delete and what, if any I need to add. I want to consolidate into a core set and improve my capabilities in the ones I choose to keep. DT is for sure a keepper and learning more and expanding my use to include indexed files is on my list of projects in my Stuff to Learn section.

Thank you everyone for the comments. I think either my question wasn’t worded correctly, or we just have different styles of processes, which is great because it just shows more diversity in working on things.

When I reflected on my own question, here’s my following example of what I know and back then that I was referring about. I am still a newbie to DTPO, few weeks into it. Before that I was an Evernote Premium user for several years.

Here’s a reading/archival workflow I have had for almost 2 years now.

RSS Feeds > Feedly > Pocket > Evernote

All my feeds would go to Feedly, then I would save the ones I want to read in Pocket, then the ones that were worthwhile for reference or whatever I needed was sent to Evernote for storage.

Now that I switched to DTPO, I look back and realized this maybe was not the best solution. I probably should have saved the article as a PDF, OCR’d and then stored. Instead of dealing with Evernote format junk.

Lesson learned - PDF when possible. It can go anywhere.

I have a similar processes for other areas of my life. So in regards to my earlier question, I currently have 1 database, because of the way my areas of focus overlap, I am sure 3-5 years from now, I will look back and say, I probably didn’t need it all in 1 database. Or I would tell someone new to DTPO, my life experience with DTPO and have I noticed the differences between 1 db or multiple.

This post by @anon41602260 that @JohnAtl mentioned is helping me in reviewing my process. Thank you all.

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Mine’s RSS/NewsBlur > Read (or NewsBlur > Pocket > Read/Save).

If I choose to save something it’s to my own HD, where it’s easily searchable with Spotlight, or more comprehensively, with HoudahSpot. I don’t need to access my decades of (tens of thousands) of collected articles in pdf, html and text on the fly from a mobile device, and my Mac is a more than sufficient archive, and under my total control, without additional charge. (Well, I could always put the docs into iCloud or Dropbox if necessary, but it just hasn’t been necessary for my own uses.)

I used DTP for a number of years but discovered I didn’t need to put as many things as I thought I did. I ended up downgrading it to a simpler shoebox-file app, then switched away from it to another app that was just as powerful for my more limited needs, but nicer to use.

Back when drives were expensive I saved articles (off DownJones and LexisNexis) as text files, and I saved web pages as bare HTML. These days I’ll save Pocket files as PDFs in their Reader Mode, and if I want to preserve formatting and links to embedded videos I’ll open links into Safari so I can save the page as a WebArchive.

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Articles clipped from website pages only rarely need to be OCRd. DEVONthink tells you if a PDF has recognized text. The “kind” == PDF + Text. If you OCR that PDF again you usually get degraded text and less accurate searching.

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Workflow progress (or rate of progress) in work being done

My favored word…

Sequence, a following of one thing after another in time or as a verb, arrange in a sequence…