Use cases for DEVONthink Server?

I’m considering investing in DEVONthink 3 and am weighing the Pro vs Server decision. Those of you who have used the server functionality/web interface (either in v2 or v3), what were/are your use cases for it? Was it useful? Do you still use it? It was included in the Pro Office version of v2, but is it worth the (substantial) extra cost in v3?

Are you looking at using DT with many other users? I wouldn’t use Server unless I was looking at providing database access for a group of people (employees, academic colleagues, etc.) I don’t think Server quite works as a method of providing access to a spouse but it might for a large family.

If you’re considering Server as a way to get access to your information while away from your desktop, sync via DTTG 3 should cover you for much less. Setting up DTTG sync is less effort than maintaining a Mac as a web server and dealing with ports and SSL.

Regardless, you can trial Server and play around with settings and get a sense of the web interface.

There was no multi user support (i.e. multiple logins with role-based access control) nor any change tracking / versioning in DT 2.x Office. So it’s server feature wasn’t much useful when you need to provide access to a small workgroup. Looks like DT 3.x Server didn’t improve this much either.

On top of that, macOS’ support for server use cases is poor (personal experience setting up Xcode Server on a Mac Mini).

I second @cornchip’s advice – do a trial and see how it works. The server is a minimal subset of overall DEVONthink features, but enables multiple concurrent user access to the data. This would make sense perhaps in a small office of attorneys accessing a common set of case files, for example. On the other hand, DEVONthink sync is not a multiple concurrent user solution.

DEVONtechnologies explains the server as follows:

DEVONthink Server allows you to share your databases on the local network with your teammates. Let them browse and search documents, add new files, or even organize your collection. All they need is a current web browser on their Mac, PC, or even tablet.

Individual permissions for each user and database clearly define what they can do and what not. The number of users is not limited and not tied to the number of seats in the license.

Connections are secured with SSL/TSL and can be made available across the internet using, e.g., port forwarding or a VPN.

My main envisioned use case would be universal access to my database no matter what computer I was using (e.g., lab computer, public kiosk, at a friend’s house, etc.). That said, DTTG 3 does sound like a more reliable solution, since it would be rare to be without my phone or iPad. However, it also sounds like DTTG only works with import-based databases and not index-based ones, so it means taking the extra step to move or copy anything I might need on the go into a syncable database.

Someday down the line I could see using the web server to provide family members with access to a set of documents, but there are probably other ways of doing that with less fuss.

DEVONthink to Go works fine with index-based databases that have been created and updated on DEVONthink for macOS. What DEVONthink to Go cannot do is natively index documents and folders into a database.


Ah, ok. So if I added something to an indexed database from DTTG, it would be imported, or does it just not let you add things to indexed databases from iOS? (If the latter is the case, I suppose having a regular “DTTG Inbox” database for that purpose would suffice, since stuff could be appropriately moved/stored back on macOS later.)

There technically is no such thing as an “indexed database”, except in the sense of having its content indexed. So adding items in DEVONthink To Go will always import as it doesn’t support indexing.

That being said, if you have an indexed group in DEVONthink and the database is syncing with DEVONthink To Go, items you add to the group in DEVONthink To Go will be indexed in DEVONthink, deconsolidating to the Finder.

Yes, the content would be imported but it would not be synced to other iOS/ipadOS devices until the databases have been synced via DEVONthink macOS. In other words, if you import a document via your phone, it will not appear in the same database on your iPad until you first sync the database with a Mac running DEVONthink.

Also, I expect that when referring to an ‘indexed database’ , people understand the idea is that the database contains indexed content, not that the database itself is indexed. So comments from DEVON staff that suggest the obvious only serve to further support the snarky attitude from DEVON that has been mentioned in other threads.

Note also that both Notebooks and Keep It, and I suspect other apps, directly support iOS-iPadOS-MacOS device syncing without having to use the MacOS version of the app. So e.g. you can save a document in KeepIt iOS and it will immediately appear in Keep It iPadOS.

By “indexed database” I mean a database that has indexed content on one’s hard drive wherever it resides without bringing that content into its own internal structure.

  • Advantage: you still have easy access to your files in their native folder organization via Finder or other applications.
  • Disadvantage: If I understand correctly, the only material that gets synced to other machines and to DTTG is the index (searchable data, metadata, annotations) and not the files themselves. Or am I mistaken about that?

You would be mistaken about that. I index 100% of my databases (or folders/documents in a database if one wants to be technically correct :unamused:) in DEVONthink macOS. All of my folders/documents are synced to DEVONthink to Go. To confirm, create a test database on macOS with indexed content and sync with one of your i*OS devices.

Please note that my comments are based on syncing DEVONthink macOS to DEVONthink to Go. I don’t use the server function, so if you are asking specifically on how that works I will have to say :man_shrugging:t2: