Scrivener vs DEVONThink as a Kanban Board?

So now I can’t remember exactly where I read the article, it was linked either from here or from GTD Connect but it was about a writer using Scrivener to collect and process ideas before collating them into what eventually became another book. What struck me was the use of Scrivener’s corkboard display to see and make the connections and group them after the fact.

Then there is the DT book out and how you can link notes easily in DT and make many connections thus building a rich network of useful bits and bobs of stuff.
Which got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing :wink:)

My LambTracker development has been mostly documented on 3x3 inch post-it notes in a paper kanban. I put bugs, feature enhancements etc. etc. etc. each on a single not and find some sort of flat surface on which to paste it. The volume of those notes is huge and I’m running out of space to put them. Plus, when I pick a module to work on I have to search every note to find the ones that relate because they are stuck on flat surfaces willy nilly. I have tried reorganizing them several times and my notes are now losing their sticky back so I have to resort to scotch tape or re-write them on a fresh Post-it.

Now I know that there are many more organized and probably better implemented Kanban systems but I was really wondering if anyone had tried to use Scrivener and or DEVONThink in that way and what you found worked or didn’t work.

My main reason for using Scrivener is that I already own it and I am comfortable using it. The lack of a learning curve and no additional outlay for new SW is appealing. I like the ability to see things in a graphical format and move them around to reorganize them that way.

The other option is to use DEVONThink in some form. I also own and use it for a lot of things and the linking options are appealing but DT does not allow you to see and move stuff graphically and somehow that seems important for this particular project. As I shuffle things that I discover are really related and create new modules based on the issues. I may not see those connections once I organize it in DT whereas Scrivener does have a way to see the entire thing as a set.

So within those constraints of either Scrivener or DEVONThink has anyone tried either or both and what worked or didn’t work for you?

Yeah I know I should probably just do a quick test with a subset of stuff in each tool and most likely will but I’d still like to hear other people’s ideas first.

edited to add

I need it to work on both Mac and iOS iPad and iPhone

Realizing this is just outside your constraints, have you considered Scapple, also from Literature&Latte?
It’s probably the smallest step above a paper-based system that I’ve used, with a very minimal learning curve, and no constraints on note placement.

I do have and use Scapple but didn’t consider it because of no iOS version and I do (or did before COVID-19) a lot of LambTracker development work at the Pub on my iPad. 1 pint is about the sweet spot for maximum ideas and still able to document them :laughing:

Both Scrivener and DT are on my mobile devices already.

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Stepping outside of your constraints … maybe consider Curio. As you are prioritizing visual organization, I think Devonthink would not be a great tool. Curio is good for creating a visual representation. It also has has tagging and robust searching (there is integration with Devonthink but it is in the newer version, which I can not run), and “GTD” functionality.

I would never consider DEVONthink (out of the box) for a Kanban view.

Curio is macOS-only – so it’s a great solution, it’s the wrong solution based on @OogieM’s constraints.

Worklowy has this feature now – but it’s cloud-only so probably is a non-starter.

Keynote is a good choice, IMO. Keynote is very capable for modeling things out.

I’ll have to see if I can find it, but some time ago I remember reading where someone has used a Kanban system (something open source I think) from within DEVONthink. It was basically using the web browser within Devon, but it allowed links to items in DEVONthink. So you’d have the Kanban functionality and the linking back into DevonThink all from what looked like DEVONThink. It looked very cool but I never had a use for it. I wonder if something like Trello would work similarly?

Found it.

I recall installing this and trying I out, but never used it in practice.

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Given your needs and proclivities and experience, try Scrivener first.

I’m a longtime Trello user, but I may be switching to the less pretty Kanban Tool because it offers swimlanes (separated rows in a kanban board)), which I think could be very useful for a new project; swimlanes aren’t really available in desktop Mac apps, unless you want to manually move things around inside something like Scapple, which I don’t. For basic kanban views Scrivener should be fine, but it can’t match the features of dedicated kanban apps.

Another option is something like Wekan, formerly LibreBoard, an open source self-hosted kanban board accessed via Javascript-enabled web browser (desktop or mobile).

For me, the total newby in kanban just something that means I don’t have to re-write stuff from lost their sticky post-it notes is probably good enough.

I will give Scrivener a test and report back

You could make kanban boards using Kanbanier and store those files in Devonthink.

It’s a native app, available on Mac, iOS and with iCloud Sync. I use it as a quick way to visualize/plan sprints for new projects



So I decided to at least enter the stuff into Scrivener as a first cut. Worst case I know I can get it all out of Scrivener easily and I need the whiteboard space the post-its were taking up. It took me about an hour and a half to type in 140 different tasks all as separate documents and corral them into folders based on which part of the entire LambTracker system they applied to.

During that process I found 24 duplicates and a few more that I knew I had already fixed or implemented so I assume that I found a duplicate when I was working on them and pulled that one off and marked it done without finding the other ones. Duplicates were clearly the same issue or feature but written slightly differently. When I found them I went back to the original one and expanded on that or improved my note.

So far in use I was able to easily sort and move things around to group them into logical modules. Having everything in digital form obviously makes it far easier to search for key words or ideas. Looking at the cards in Scrivener I made some connections that I was missing in the post-it note system probably due to no space to move them around without taking them all off and trying again.

An unexpected bonus is that since each card is actually a Scrivener document I can use the content portion of the document to write down ideas and paste in sample code. I can also add in links to help or examples that might solve the problem. That is a benefit I had not planned on.


Congratulations. A screenwriter I know for years has used 3x5 index cards with color-coded tape and colored Sharpie markings on them (to track characters, time of day, locations) for brainstorming and outlining, placed on an office wall on which he installed big metal sheets, and individual cards would be set to the wall with magnets. He found it essential to see the big picture of a story, be able to easily move around scene-cards, etc.

A few years ago he decided to try to do this virtually with Scrivener but it didn’t work for him, but Scrivener’s card view is probably good enough for most.

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