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"designing a personal knowledgebase"

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Posted by jimspoon
Sep 5, 2014 at 03:22 AM




Posted by Hugh
Sep 5, 2014 at 03:22 PM


Very interesting. Thanks, Jim.

Reading the comments, however (which are as informative as the blog itself), I am drawn to agreeing with those few who say, in essence “Do whatever works, even if it’s imperfect”. In my personal experience, this is one of those many areas of life where striving for the best can easily become the enemy of achieving the good.


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Sep 6, 2014 at 08:50 AM


Agreed. That said, the comments include several interesting tools that I had personally never heard of before, such as

- Anki http://ankisrs.net/ similar to Supermemo, discussed here in the past http://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics/viewt/532/0/supermemo
- Weavi https://weavi.com a sort of public Gingko


Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 6, 2014 at 09:39 AM


It does, however, perpetuate what appears to be something of a general belief about DEVONthink – that it doesn’t do subfolders. Actually, it does. It’s not an obvious feature, but it’s a convenient one. Under the ‘Data’ menu (in all versions of DEVONthink), there’s the option to ‘Group items’. In fact, this simply means, make a subfolder within an existing group. By selecting items using the ‘Command’ key (on a Mac; Ctrl on a PC), you can create as many subfolders as you like. You can create subfolders within subfolders, too.

And of course DEVONthink also has tagging. Not sure if you can group those yet, but I intend to find out!


Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 6, 2014 at 09:52 AM


On the subject of groups vs subfolders. I think the reason DEVONthink refers to folders/subfolders as ‘Groups’ is because there’s a fundamental difference in the way the data is handled. If you group stuff in DEVONthink, and especially if you group stuff in subgroups, if you later decide to ‘ungroup’ the items in a subgroup, they aren’t deleted – they’re simply moved back into the parent group. This appears to apply all the way up to the top level of the hierarchy – you’ll find the ‘group/ungroup’ options on the context menus for top-level groups, but also for any item, because you can have single-item groups if you want.

It’s a very powerful feature, and has made me very happy! It means DEVONthink can be used as a hierarchical information manager in just the same way as any more conventional two-pane outlining tool, but with the added advantage that you can spontaneously decide to group/ungroup a large selection of items on the spur of the moment. This, in combination with Spotlight integration, extensive tagging/labelling options, and the outstanding export/conversion features, makes DEVONthink into an amazingly powerful information manager.

On conversion: you can save stuff in DEVONthink as e.g. PDF files (side note: it has an exceptionally good PDF rendering engine - I don’t know how it does it, but web pages saved as PDFs in DEVONthink are vastly superior to web pages saved as PDFs in any other information manager I’ve experimented with; excellent format preservation), and then decide to convert them to rich-text or plain-text files later on. I’ve just converted a web page that took up 1.5 MB in the database to a rich-text file that takes up around 25 KB. DEVONthink creates a copy, so you can decide later whether you want to nuke the PDF and just keep the rich-text file, or vice versa.

Of course DEVONthink also has its Auto Classify feature, too, but that doesn’t work in the Personal version. Looks like I may have to CRIMP the Pro version after all…

Rather against my will, because I’ve already invested in so many alternatives, I’m very impressed by DEVONthink. Not least because its capture function is so stable (synchronisation with the iOS app, on the other hand, is not very stable! but there are signs they’re working on that!). So far, I’ve not had any crashes, wobbles or memory moments with DEVONthink, which sets it apart from all the others (Yojimbo, Together, especially Stache, and even Scrivener).


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