I’ve been a major fan of DEVONthink for quite some time. I’ve written more than one article on the benefits of DEVONthink and how to effectively use DEVONthink and more so who it’s best suited for. However, there are two serious problems with DEVONthink the one of which I could have lived with but the second has really thrown me over and I felt you should be aware of this.
DEVONthink’s Strength Rests with it’s Desktop Product only in Isolation
DEVONthink is a very powerful and capable product when you’re at one Mac in isolation. That is, if you just use DEVONthink at your prime Mac and really no where else it is an extremely powerful product. Everything I have written about DEVONthink holds true.
Today though, we rarely work in isolation. It’s not too long ago that this was the case. Now there are a steady stream of apps deluging us with integrated sync capability primarily via the cloud to keep our IOS devices in sync allowing us to effectively work anywhere.
DEVONthink’s Current IOS offerings Leave a lot to be Desired
There are two primary problems with DEVONthink’s current IOS problems that are more than known to many a user and the company. The problems have been known for a long time. That is, no one at DEVONtechnologies woke up yesterday and thought wouldn’t it be nice if….. This is definitely not the case.
The Current iOS Offerings are nothing more than Viewers
DEVONthink, as I’ve said, is a very robust product that can do much. No IOS offering could in anyway match the power of DEVONthink at the desktop. However, the current products are really nothing more than viewers of data wherein you can create a note and sync it back to the desktop but that’s about all you can do. You can’t even delete a note if you wanted to.
Five years ago this might have been alright but it would have just been alright. Five years ago it was common practice to sync your data on your local WIFI network but if you went out the door and had forgotten to sync that was it. The data was there but on your desktop product. Cloud based sync got rid of this limitation and is used in almost every current product except DEVONthink. However, if you think about it a lot changes have occurred in five years including the way sync is handled.
Even as a viewer if you have a lot of data stored in your inbox as you hadn’t gotten around to filing it that data simply has no mechanism to sync. Some people have a whole days worth of data in their inbox and possibly even more as they haven’t filed their work. This is a lot of data and fresh data not to have access to remotely but you don’t.
Fifteen dollars is what it costs for this less than half baked product. As I said the company has been aware of these problems for some time and have not invested the money in fixing it. In fact, I would go so far as to say, they didn’t even invest the money for a properly working IOS product five years ago.
Enter then DEVONthink To Go 2 (DTTG2) which we’ve been hearing about forever.
DTTG2 Will be quite some time Yet
DTTG2 has been talked about and in active development for well over a year. I’m not sure exactly what the timeframe around this has been as the company is not so liberal in releasing this kind of damning information so you have to dig in their forums. The answer, in some fashiNathan – I thought buy yourself Byword for IOS – I believe it’s universal and will play on iTunes; you might want to buy the offline publishing feature for yourself for WordPress etc for $4.99 and if you don’t have it buy Mail Pilot for 9.99. It’s very good but different. on will lie there. Let me just say DTTG 2 has been in the works for a long time.
It is to address the problems of DTTG1. The company thinks because they made DTTG1 IOS 7 compliant they are in fine stead with Apple. That’s nice for Apple and maybe DEVONtechnologies but there are users paying for this third rate product that does little at a healthy amount of $15.
The long and the short of this is it’s called investment. To stay current with today’s realities you need to invest some of your earnings. I will not go into detail on this but the proof is in the pudding. There is no DTTG2 and no one at DEVONtechnologies will begin to tell you when to expect it. That is, there is no product plan that has a target date from what I can gather. And if you ask forthrightly you will be told you’re pushing and at a cost but that cost is to the company that should be investing in the first place.
As I previously said, I could have lived with one thing and this I could have lived with as I primarily just work at my Mac. Sync’g to my handhelds just so I had information via WIFI was marginally OK even without current information that might be in the inbox. However, there are many and I would suggest the bulk of users who need far more than this from their IOS product. I could wax on about all the functionality not available at the mobile level but it is enough to say that the bulk of users need far more than what their getting on their IOS devices and again DEVONtechnologies is aware of this.
The Straw that broke the Camels Back
Eventually though there is a point where you have to say enough is enough. I’ve written these positive reviews around DEVONthink and I stand behind them but to a limit and that is within the confines that the product works best if you work with it on one Mac platform in isolation.
This is not the way most people work today. So if I were to refer to DEVONthink as a Niche product it most certainly is.
However, the straw that broke the camels back was when working with DEVONthink and using their new cloud based sync’g service for Mac to Mac I suddenly realized that every sync uses a whopping amount of memory and doesn’t return it to the system. Depending on your systems memory you can exhaust it. If you set DEVONthink to sync hourly by the end of a day the amount of memory DEVONthink is using is staggering. On a 8 gig machine, your memory might be exhausted. It is not good enough though to say the OS will take care of this by swapping out memory to disk to free up memory. It will do that and every sync will keep burning up memory.
The company is aware of this problem. They have chosen not to tell anyone. They are rewriting DEVONthink from scratch in Sync 2. However, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was no longer prepared to wait. I was no longer prepared for these excuses that although legitimate in what happened my question is why did it happen in the first place. And when I identified it to the company they were forthcoming about what happened but they didn’t seem to be overly conscientious about the nature or the extent of the problem. I could say more but now we turn our attention to Evernote.
The Juggernaut on the Street
I’ve used Evernote from its inception. I’ve had it a long time and followed its developmental path. Evernote has always been a good product and ahead of its time. However, it never quite worked the way I like working. Version 5 of Evernote changed everything and it came along just in time.
In fact, version 5 of Evernote is commonly accepted to be at it’s coming of age stage. As I said, Evernote has always been a good product. Version 5 of Evernote made it a great product. In fact, the product is now so good there really is nothing stopping it.
Evernote themselves probably recognized this. The CEO of Evernote said they took on too many projects in 2013 and now they want to refocus on the core. This is smart. They are smart and do a lot of investment in their product. You will find that Evernote is constantly being updated. if you’re a pro member not only will you have access to extremely liberal amounts of capacity but you will also get superb service.
Evernote, in fact, made their IOS products 100% IOS 7 compliant and have won awards based on this. Evernote is a cloud based system and your information will be with you wherever you are. It’s a fast system and searches take no time. If you tag things well a long with methodical filing you will be able to generate tremendous views of your data. And your data will not be hobbled by the IOS client.
Finally, Evernote will not suddenly start using large amounts of your memory. Considering what it does it works in a very efficient memory space.
Sat with DEVONthink long Enough and Waited
I sat with DEVONthink long enough. I invested huge amounts of energy in time to learn this product and to learn it well. But there comes a time that you have to cut chase. That time came when I saw the excessive memory the product was using and the companies answer was sync is complicated. It sure is but if you make the right investments you’ll have a good sync product.
Users of a product today, unlike only a few years ago, take sync for granted. So they should. It’s a mature technology now only to find it’s evolutionary path. One does not need to worry about memory exhaustion with products that employ sync; in the general case.
If you want to explore say speeding up your Mac or general Mac performance issues read Joe Kissell’s book “Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac“. This is an excellent book if you want to weed out things that might be causing performance issues and if you find them you will speed up you Mac.
Time for Evernote
I’ve decided, after many people told me to do this months ago, to fully switch to Evernote and really get to know it. Frankly, it’s amazing. One, there is nothing to learning the product unlike DEVONthink. I was up and running in no time and within a few hours basically was working productively. I bought a couple of books on Evernote usage but haven’t needed to look at them as this really is a good product. Do not think though because it’s easy to learn it’s not powerful. This is an incredibly powerful program. And it’s power can only be enhanced as I get to know the system more fully. I’m honestly very impressed.
There is a lot written about Evernote however, it never hurts to have more information. Expect from the The Daily Mac View future articles regarding Evernote. In fact, our new contributing author, who will soon be introduced and introduce himself, would like to explore some Evernote workflows.
Evernote 5 is now the Right Product at the Right time
It’s funny about life. As a problem presents itself often a solution comes a long but in another package. You just have to know it’s time to grab it. Evernote has come a long or has always been there but in its new incarnation as version 5 it’s now the right time.
This is a very powerful offering. On the Mac it works as either a browser based implementation or a local full fledged client. The IOS clients are bar non superb. This is an extremely good product.
I can now sit back and get on with business. Business and life these days press and we don’t always have the luxury of waiting forever. Will DEVONtechnologies ever get its act together. Time will tell that story and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this. I did make a large investment in time. I’d certainly like it to do well.
Life is different than it was thirty years ago. Then the discussion was on competitiveness and having a competitive company and product. Today the discussion is very much about the transitional economy we have entered. This is an economy based on one’s ability to transition quickly to changing demands. You move into an area of opportunity fast, exploit it and transition yourself quickly to the next opportunity.
I’m happy I’ve transitioned to Evernote. It was a necessary and wise move. We all need to operate productively these days and our tools, such as our Macs, are necessary aids in not only our productivity but our ability to enjoy leisure time. If we were constantly fighting with our tools while trying to get things done we’d be very inefficient as opposed to productive. In David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” his theory is not simply about being more productive and the ways to accomplish this although it certainly is to a large degree but it’s also about being more relaxed and having more leisure time.
In being productive this is much of what it’s about. In our ability to Get Things Done but get them done more effectively we both reduce the stresses on our brain’s memory to remember everything and all kinds of minutiae. In Getting Things Done more effectively we have more time for leisure activities. One should not be fooled by GTD as a model nor the methodology one employs to utilize the model.
Unfortunately, DEVONthink in its current state works heavily against GTD while Evernote works extensively to promote it. Evernote is a tool for the times. I can’t answer this but DEVONthink might have been eclipsed. My choices have put me in good stead. As they say it’s never too late and let’s hope that’s the case for DEVONthink but till then …..