I need a better research workflow

devonthink
pdf

#1

I need a better research workflow

Right now I’m using Devonthink, but it doesn’t work well for me. All I want is to easily capture webpages as pdfs and store them somewhere. I want to have them offline on my devices (Mac, iPad, iPhone) after syncing. I don’t even need pdfs specifically, but some format that let’s me do annotations.
I like clipping via Devonthink on my Mac. But this doesn’t work on mobile. I can save to pdf from my iPhone, but then I get a iPhone-sized pdf without links that’s not nice to work on the iPad. Syncing with Devonthink (and box.com) doesn’t work well. I clipped a bunch of files this morning and they just don’t show up on my iOS devices yet. I don’t need all the pro features of Devonthink, they just make it clumsy for me.
Isn’t there a web service or whatever that let’s me save a page as a pdf to a cloud folder? Or other recommendations?


#2

Maybe Evernote? The webclipper works really well on Mac and you can also clip pages on mobile. It also holds PDFs.

I‘m also hearing good things about Keep It. But can‘t speak from personal experience and don‘t know for sure how it handles clipped webpages.


#3

I just had some frustrations with iOS pdf creation, but found Safari on the Mac was fine (including the reader view aspect). So, is getting Hazel or Keyboard Maestro to do it for you as a service an option? I imagine it would work.


#4

I would like to go this way, but is there a way to get those working from mobile? Via Ifttt or whatever?


#5

I should have a look at Evernote again. But I‘d really prefer to keep my files in my own file system and not rely on Evernote. Can you auto export from Evernote to files?


#7

Here’s the shortcut I use.

https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/e7c97889c2634d01a1e49536c24f16c0

It will show you two previews in sequence, Use the first one to check the page #s, then click done & it will ask you for starting and ending page, and then show another preview with the date prepended to the page title as the file name.


#8

Thanks! So can you use MarginNote also to create new files from iOS? I would like to be able to just take a webpage I stumble upon while browsing in Safari for iOS and share it to my „collection“.

To make things more complicated, it would be great if there was a way to also get files that I save in Pocket as that is pretty much the only way for me to get bookmarks from my windows work pc (besides e-mailing).


#9

Thanks! But the problem with those pdfs is that they render without links and when creating them on the iPhone they take the formatting for the iPhone screen (of course I guess) and are not very nice to read on tha iPad or Mac later.
Maybe web archives would be a better solution? But how do you annotate those?


#10

Hmm…I don’t generally make use of links in archived PDFs so I probably haven’t even noticed. I find (with iPhone 7 Plus) that they don’t render exactly as Safari in iPhone presents them. But I am really only interested in text content and the odd image, not a faithful representation of the page in a particular browser. If it’s really a mess when I get the first preview I’ll sometimes go back and open in Safari reader view first.

I annotate PDFs with Skim, Preview and Highlights on the Mac depending on the purpose, and PDF Viewer and Highlights (in beta) on iOS generally. All the files just get saved to folders in Dropbox.

If you want to get a desktop version of a site on iPhone you’ll probably need to tell the server you’re a different user agent than default. I haven’t done this but there are third party browsers that can.


#11

Using the reading view is a good idea! I shall try rendering some sites (like Wikipedia) that way and see if this gives me a good result for working on the iPad. But I will still miss the links.


#13

I could also use Instapaper – seems like they finally managed to adapt to the european data regulations (the service was unavailable over here for month€.


#14

I‘m not sure what exactly you mean by auto export, but you can export manually and probably also programmatically via Apple Script.


#15

Yes, I mean export with a script or Hazel or whatever, so that my files aren’t stuck within Evernote. Preferably without me having to manually start the process.


#16

For moving URLs from my work Windows PC to my iPhone, I use Linkpack. They have a Chrome extension that gives you a button to save the current URL in the file system. I use a Dropbox folder and on the iOS side they have an App to manage the folder. My most common workflow is to take a URL from my windows PC and imessage it to someone from my phone. It has good share sheet support on the iOS side. They used to have a Safari extension as well, but that does not work any more since the move to the App Store for extensions. I never used it much as continuity fits the bill there nicely.


#17

I have to say that, after reading the User Forum, I am a bit leery. What I see is a compilation of user concerns with little if any responses from the developers. What I also see that put me off is that some of the concerns being raised will certainly also cause me frustrations. Two examples … lack of anything other than iCloud and exporting PDF files that are huge by comparison to the source content.

What also will likely frustrate me is that this will become yet another application that I have to learn to use to manage files internally and then export the results when I want to deal with them in other applications. At that point, the comment about MarginNote not playing well with iOS Files becomes a red flag.

This is what I hear when the OP says … better research workflow. Where is the one app that can bring the best ideas from DevonThink + Tinderbox + Curio + iThoughts + … to the iPad?


JJW


#18

I do not agree with that characterization at all. MarginNote has made extensive strides in features, is stable, and is a very good self-contained research environment. I have done a lot of research and preliminary draft outlining with MN across macOS and iOS in the past 6 months, and found it more stable than DEVONthink on any platform. MN is a better approach than the usual routine we see recommended of chaining together a lot of apps to cobble up a research process.


#19

I‘ll try it out, thanks!


#20

I wonder why there isn’t just a simple web service that takes an URL, renders it into a nice PDF and saves it to a cloud service of choice. That would be all I need, I‘d use files/finder with tags and a PDF app of choice (probably LiquidText).


#21

I am always glad to hear your comments @quorm. First impressions can of course be seriously misleading, as your testament shows in relation to my cursory overview. And any comments that references an app as being better than DevonThink certainly deserves further investigation (not that I am saying that DevonThink is a high bar to surpass mind you).


JJW


#22

In general Evernote is scriptable with Apple Script so in theory this should be possible. You could probably also use Zapier and copy/move files to Dropbox and from there Hazel could take over. But this would involve even more cloud services, so probably not a solution for you. Wanted to mention it anyways though.