Hook + HoudahSpot + OmniFocus for a repeating action that displays files used in the past 48 hours

As usual, Brett Terpstra has a very good sense for useful productivity tools, and his recent mention of the new app Hook (currently in beta) had me downloading the app before I finished reading the article he wrote on Lifehacker.

One of the use-cases featured by the developer, Luc Beaudoin (creator of MySleepButton) involves another favorite app HoudahSpot, which MacSparky also discussed recently, in combination with OmniFocus. Part of my daily and weekly reviews involved looking over documents and PDFs I’ve worked on during the past 48 hours (daily) or the past 2 weeks (weekly). Once I’ve saved the search criteria for a HoudahSpot search (see the screenshot of “48hours.hssearch”), I can use the Hook app to make a link to that saved search and paste that into the note field of the relevant repeating OmniFocus task (here, I’ve been inspired by Kourosh Dini’s approach to the “considered task”). Then, with a keyboard shortcut from Keyboard Maestro, I can run Jesse David Hollington’s script to open the link, and – boom! – I’m in the list of files displaying with a particularly beautiful and function preview window in HoudahSpot.

8 Likes

Thanks to Terpstra’s suggestion, I’ve been using the Hook beta for a while. It is a very clever application that I believe ingeniously fills a gap for researchers or anyone who works with multiple related files / webpages / Bear notes, etc. It takes a little time to get used to Hook, then the penny drops with an “aha – of course this makes sense” moment. I recommend spending time on the Hook site with the videos, blog, and help pages – this is a beta effort at this time, so the app is at the early stages of evolution as are the help pages. The owner, Luc Beaudoin, is very engaged with users and is open to comments, suggestions, and guidance on user priorities.

Some info on Hook’s use cases is a helpful starting point. As well as Beaudoin’s “overview of Hook”.

This is a fine example of the “artisanal software” that Mark Bernstein writes about: a developer with a well-informed point of view who sees their work as a craft, and produces something different worth listening to.

4 Likes

Hook looks incredible, thanks for posting!
Copying a markdown link to a website is so easy!

When creating presentations or posters, or even notes, the whole process seems ‘fragile’ and I wonder if the resources may become misplaced, etc.

Now I learn that Notebooks (the note taking app I had finally settled on), doesn’t support Apple Script. Arg! I can still paste in markdown links, but really wanted the two-way connection.

1 Like

A couple of things to consider @JohnAtl, the “Link to New” action in Hook creates a new document based on one of the built-in templates or a custom one. A “template” can be a blank document, or one you’ve formatted. Only one template per editor app is allowed at this time. The “Link to New” action puts the newly-created document in ~/Documents/Hook/notes (you can configure a different default folder).

The dev says you can move the files from there to elsewhere – something I haven’t tested much. I’ve found you cannot move the files into DEVONthink though, so Hook seems to lose track of files inside packages. I don’t like that, but I guess the work around is to define a default destination folder and index that folder in DEVONthink.

When you create a note file linked, say, to a web page, Hook knows about the relationship, so if you invoke Hook while editing the linked note file then you can see the “parent” and click back to the web page or wherever you started. He says there will be visualization and/or improved navigation in future betas.

Betas are free – so no worries about going along for the ride for now.

2 Likes

Thanks @quorm . That’s right, (speaking as the designer) Hook links are robust under Finder moves. Moving something into Evernote or DEVONthink would not normally be a move in that sense. (Similarly in macOS strictly speaking one can’t “move” a file across volumes. macOS does a copy operation in that case.) However, this is something I think we will be able to address because we do track a bit of info about the file. For example, you can unmount a Dropbox share or a RCS (e.g., Git) repository and remount it elsewhere, and normally Hook links should still work (so they’re more robust than aliases.)

There’s also “Link to New” > EverNote. And we will add “Link to New” > in DEVONthink too.

3 Likes

Thanks for sharing. I added the url to my Touch Bar using better touch tool. A simple tap to bring up the pdfs from the last 48 hours.

How does Hook work across multiple macs, for those of us with a multi Mac lifestyle?
Edit: Found answer. You can both export and import for backup/restore, and put the “notes” folder anywhere on the disk, including on Dropbox, iCloud, NAS and so on.

BibDesk allows linking to files in what is, I believe (without too much under the hood knowledge) a similar manner, and it works fine on multiple Macs as long as the file locations are in sync.

But likewise, what plans are in place for an iOS version? Obviously it couldn’t work with arbitrary file locations but most of the major cloud providers allow linking to files, so there should be ways around many of the iOS limitations.

Joel, this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. It reminds me a bit of the app Crusoe which is specifically for use with Evernote on the iPad. I can use Hook, however, on the laptop and it bridges between everything, not just notes. I’m definitely going to be playing with this. I’ve already got a few ideas.

Your HoudahSpot search with a repeating task is a really handy use of the tool. I’m trying it out now.

If the links are as robust as they seem so far, Hook lets us link much more handily with files in the Finder than before, particularly with Hollington’s script as you point out.

Neat!

1 Like

Here is some additional pertinent to this old question about multi-Mac support for Hook which supersedes the quoted export/import function:

Quoting from the former:

Hook cannot yet automatically sync data between different Macs. That is something we at CogSci Apps intend to support.

Meanwhile, if one is so inclined they can manually transfer data from Hook’s Library folder (~/Library/Application\ Support/com.cogsciapps.hook) between Macs, following the instructions listed there.

Hook is laser-focused on enabling users to robustly identify and access arbitrary information resources. It enables creating and linking files in third-party apps (e.g., files, Apple Notes) rather than in its own format. So if you want links to/from those files and items to work, you’ll want to sync them too, of course.

correct. Hook creates a ~/Documents/Hook folder containing notes which can be synced or transferred with whatever tools one already uses for that. Notes (ie…, documents or items) created via Hook can be stored anywhere (on disk, or in database apps like Evernote and OmniFocus).

Hook also allows you to (automatically or manually) create .hook files, which are one-line files that combine and extend the functionality provided by aliases and .webloc. (They are written in plain text (Markdown) and can contain a link with whatever scheme you want.) By default they are created in the ~/Documents/Hook folder. However, they too can be stored anywhere, and can be copied across Macs any which way one chooses, whether or not one transfers the Hook Library between Macs.

(Disclosure: I’m a co-founder of the company that develops Hook.)

Hey @JohnAtl, we were able to add support for Notebooks 2 to Hook.

Notebooks 2 uses slightly brittle links which break if you move a note to a different book, or rename it, which is unfortunate. I’ve messaged the developers about using some kind of persistent UUID to link their notes, so hopefully it will get better in the future.

Also, we’ve integrated Notebooks 2, which is still in public beta. We haven’t yet added integration with the original version of Notebooks.

Hope this is useful to you!

1 Like

Welcome Graham!

Yes, that sounds very useful! Thanks for working that out.