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Tagging advice for DEVONThink

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Posted by Amontillado
Dec 14, 2017 at 03:23 PM

 

I’ve been thinking about how to get more out of DEVONThink, particularly in the way that TheBrain organizes stuff.

In TheBrain, there is a hierarchical order. Parent thoughts have child thoughts, and every thought can have jump thoughts, which are sort of sidebar references.

I’ve started using DEVONThink where I use groups and subgroups to file documents in the manner of TheBrain’s hierarchy. Then, I use tags and subtags to do what TheBrain does with jump thoughts.

It’s imperfect, though, because I can’t use a tag to link to a group unless I use one of two methods. I can add tags to groups, but that can only be done in the “get info” window. Unhandy.

Or, I can turn off the “exclude groups from tagging” option in the database properties. That works, but duplication in naming is not well handled. If a group gets named the same thing as an existing tag, the group association, not the pre-existing tag, seems to be what’s active.

I like DEVONThink and it’s been very reliable, much more so in my experience than TheBrain. Just musing about how to get more out of it.

Any suggestions appreciated.

 


Posted by Paul Korm
Dec 14, 2017 at 03:37 PM

 

DEVONthink uses an unusually metaphor for tags—“tags are groups”—that a lot of users have a hard time getting comfortable with. 

I think it’s best to set a database to “exclude groups from tagging” and to look at building a hierarchy of tags inside the database’s Tags group.  Also, never import, create, or index a document inside a tag.  Keep documents in “normal” groups, and so when you tag them you only have replicants in the Tags hierarchy.  When you start putting original documents in the Tags hierarchy you get a mess—not that that’s what you’re doing, but it’s worth mentioning.

You’re not going to achieve in DEVONthink what you achieve in TheBrain.  They are completely different information concepts.

Personally, I rather enjoy organizing concepts in TheBrain in a very freeform manner, and if a concept is related to a document in DEVONthink then I insert a DEVONthink-link in the brain to link back to the document.

It’s a lot simpler to use TheBrain for exploring notes and concepts and forget about tagging.  Just my opinion.

 


Posted by Amontillado
Dec 14, 2017 at 09:12 PM

 

Thanks, Paul, good points. I had found you could create documents inside tag folders, which the documentation says are just folders - but I hear you about the issues creating documents in them. I tried that on a test database once, and found oddities. Can’t remember what, but something was odd.

 


Posted by Paul Korm
Dec 14, 2017 at 10:26 PM

 

Normally, the contents of tag folders are replicants (DEVONthink’s equivalent of aliases, but not at all the same thing).  So deleting a tag doesn’t destroy your document, it just removes the replicant.  What happens when folks create a document inside a tag folder is that they eventually forget the document is there and delete the tag.  Instead of merely deleting a replicant, the document itself is gone.

Amontillado wrote:
Thanks, Paul, good points. I had found you could create documents inside
>tag folders, which the documentation says are just folders - but I hear
>you about the issues creating documents in them. I tried that on a test
>database once, and found oddities. Can’t remember what, but something
>was odd.
> >

 


Posted by Hugh
Dec 15, 2017 at 08:33 AM

 

If you need more information, if I remember correctly the book on DevonThink in the Take Control series goes into significant detail on the complexities and potentially unexpected consequences of tagging and groups (to an extent that the DevonThink’s own documentation, for all its good value, does not). Well worth reading.

Personally, I use tagging in as simple a way as possible, to temporarily demarcate parts of a project whose data is permanently held within different groups. And as Paul advises, I don’t place a group-less document “within” a tag.

 


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