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Critical View of Devon Think - or the Emperor Is Missing Some Clothes

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Sep 2, 2010 at 01:36 PM

 

We all know there is no perfect application—that holy grail of PIMs we are all searching for. There are certainly valid criticisms that can be made of DevonThink. But if I could have an exact version of DT on my PC, I’d take it in a second over any other Windows application. And I say that as a fan of MyInfo and Zoot and OneNote. This is not to say that it does everything better than those applications. But all in all it is, in my opinion of course, a fuller, more useful application. AND, it uses a pretty standard word processing engine, unlike any of the three Windows apps I’ve just mentioned. Try doing extended selection in any of those applications and you’ll get three different responses. Do it in DevonThink and it behaves just like almost every other Mac Application and most dedicated word processors for Windows.

I know I’ve sounded this drum many times in the past, but I believe it is an important point, especially for anyone doing any extensive writing in these programs. The editors should behave in a standard way. Like it or not, the standard way has been set by Word (for the record, I think it is a pretty good standard). If I have to stop and think about how I use extended selection—or if any kind of extended selection is even supported—it breaks my concentration on my work. As an example, say you’ve written a paragraph and decide that the third sentence is really a better lead than the original, so you want to move it. With standard extended selection, you just double click on the first word of the sentence you want to move and drag to the end of that sentence—the editor scoops up words in full. Now just cut and paste it where you want it to go. Without extended selection (and the way in which MyInfo and OneNote work), you have to carefully place the cursor in front of the first word—oh, but don’t get that leading space—then drag to the end. Of course, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I find that when I have to do this, it pulls me right out of my thinking process, because I’ve got to concentrate on placing that cursor in just the correct spot. It’s annoying and really unnecessary.

One of the benefits of my Mac book is that almost all of the applications use the same editor. So writing in DevonThink or Scrivener or VoodooPad or MacJournal feels exactly the same. Perhaps this isn’t the most powerful of word processors, but in making notes and first drafts, I don’t need a powerful word processor. I just need something that’s easy to use. I can always export to Pages or Mellel for final primping of the text if need be.

Steve