Last year I gave DevonTHINK a serious try. I wanted to build a repository for my tech support business, which meant that the database(s) would hold pdfs, web links, and sometimes rtf/text documents. It had to be accessible on iOS (iPad especially), and seamless to put stuff into and to categorize.
After about 8 months, I gave up in frustration; it just doesn’t live up to its promises.
Why I left:
I couldn’t get sync to be 100% reliable. I had too many times when stuff just wouldn’t appear on my iPads, and I wasted lots of time troubleshooting. (I know: it’s getting better. But looking at the forums, it’s always getting better. Sync is hard.)
Getting stuff into DT’s “inbox” was easy, but you couldn’t easily put it into the correct place on iOS. If I know exactly how an article should be categorized, then I should able to put it where it belongs as I’m adding it to DT — every time, correctly. I don’t want to dump a bunch of stuff and then triage it later, since I have to re-read it to decide where it goes.
The automatic categorization stuff never worked. Ever. After doing so much up front work, I expected DT to be able to learn from my organization, but it was dumb as a bunch of rocks. The one thing that could have kept me using the app was if I could just throw content at it and DT would properly categorize it for me, as their marketing promised. But it simply could not.
Search often couldn’t help me find what I need in my databases, possibly because the difference between various articles was too slight. I was usually better off scanning for what I needed.
The interface is incredibly cluttered, full of “junk”. To someone as visually oriented as myself, this made it really hard to focus on my work.
Not much of the interface is obvious, and while it is possible to learn, it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s a significant hurdle.
(It reminds me of Photoshop, actually. They’re both horrid interfaces. But I stick with Photoshop because (1) I have been using it for more than a decade, so I know my way around and (2) I don’t have to pay for it because I need to purchase an Adobe subscription for other applications.)
The text editor is, likewise, inelegant. I found myself not wanting to take notes there.
None of this invalidates other people’s views, of course. We all have different needs, and obviously there’s lots of good in this program. But with DevonTHINK’s high cost in time and money, I wanted to put my experience out there to help others avoid wasting theirs.