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DEVONthink as Knowledge Manager: The Return


I’ve written extensively about DEVONthink over the past and most specifically how the product is a Knowledge Management tool and whilst at the same time being an Information Management tool. I also wrote an article on my switch to Evernote from DEVONthink as I was tiring of waiting for the cloud based portion of the product to be made available. To be clear, I am still waiting and feel this is the approach that needs to be taken. However, I am also a pragmatist and I knew a good thing when I saw it and believe it to be no lesser of a powerful solution than I ever did.

Not to say Nay to the Others

This article is not to say nay to Evernote as a powerful and robust solution which brings a great deal to the table nor OneNote. However, for my needs, I realized with the passing of time, that they were better met with DEVONthink than either of the other two products. Not that the other two products can’t offer me something of value but if I’m to put effort into the collection of information and the inevitable understanding of that information, it is better for me to put my efforts into DEVONthink than either of the other two except on specific occasions.

Cloud Sync

The crux of my decision to move to Evernote, as the specific case, was born out by my belief in the inevitable greater value of Cloud Sync and this holds equally for DEVONthink as it does for the others. Cloud sync allows you to sync your program at any time regardless basically of location to take advantage of its greater capacity for geographic freedom while also maintaining current information.


Specifically, DEVONthink uses the older WIFI sync model to sync the mobile units with the desktop unit. I am still waiting for cloud sync in DEVONthink. This capability I ultimately believe to be a more robust solution. You do not need worry about sync’g before you leave the house to ensure you have the most current information with you as cloud sync ensures this. It also takes away the possibility generally for error on the part of the user something which cannot be underestimated.

The Ultimate Grail

Does DEVONthink though hold with it the ultimate grail and that is why I have returned to it as an active user. I would not say this but when I want to find a piece of information which is relevant at any level to my endeavour’s I am far more likely to find the piece of information I seek in DEVONthink than the other two products. I might find the information I seek in either product but with potentially a lot of gut wrenching to get there. DEVONthink users can bear witness easily that to find sometimes a very sticky piece of information in DEVONthink is actually a fairly simple process.

Ultimately, I decided to give in to this. I decided recently I had my last battle with one of the other products to find what was actually not that difficult to find. It did take though on my part a good piece of filing in the first place but the other products allow me to be sloppy in my filing efforts. If not that, they at least allow me to not think through my filing efforts should I decide I might like to find the information. Further, and of more significance, they do not bring about the rigour that is sometimes not imposed upon you by DEVONthink but that is sort of implied in the grouping together of like products that return results that make for a more significant solution.

I’ve been asked so many times for say a product ID in my search or a purchase order number that when being applied in DEVONthink makes perfect sense yet not that it doesn’t make sense say in Evernote it’s just less likely that you might think of these relationships.

More significantly though, DEVONthink has this profound capability to find what you at first think isn’t findable. When you find it, just like that, it’s as if magic has struck.

To Bite the Bullet only makes for Rational Business Thinking

After having fought too many a time and having lost far too often with the other products in finding what I’m looking for, I decided to turn back and take another look at DEVONthink. Had I remembered it correctly. Was to that easy to find what I sought I DEVONthink. I found it was. Surprisingly so.

At this point, I realized there was no going back. Making work pleasant or at least less dreary involves being able to solve problems quickly. I wanted to do this. I felt had more to offer than just searching in a haystack for something I may never find. Plus, it was fun to be able to find the information you sought and actually make some logical insight out of it.

DEVONtech Appears to be Committed to Solving the Cloud Solution

In discussions with DEVONtech, they seem very committed to solving the cloud based problem. They are a small company and want to do it right. Doing it right though to me doesn’t mean spinning your wheels for 100 years and then you solve what you embarked upon 100 years ago. The problem will have changed.

I think for them though doing it right means that a meaningful solution is brought to bear based on cloud technologies. I think with solid commitment they can most assuredly accomplish this within a reasonable time frame. It’s in everyone’s best interest except the competitions.

I want to get Back though to Solving Problems

If I have to wait for cloud sync for a while (let’s not hope for 100 years) I’m fine doing WIFI sync. I have a lot of control over my environment actually doing it this way. However, it brings me to a rock solid solution today. I can get the answers I need now and I don’t need to wait forever. There is something very rewarding in this approach and de-stressing.

It’s Time to Return to DEVONthink Pro Office

After a slight hiatus and having evaluated numerous alternatives to DEVONthink it is now time to return to the fold. DEVONthink is not an easy product to learn and I don’t want to pretend it is. However, it is a powerful product with tons of capabilities such as being able to create a paperless office to storing any kind of data available such archiving your mail.

Queries can be extremely simple or complex. DEVONthink is a flexible product and what you can get out of it is only a matter of that which you are prepared to put into it. I found other products, though nicer to look at, far more limited. Together is a good example. Although Together looks great, is far more limited in the fashion in which you store say emails in the product. I like storing things in a sub-project that outline the steps to me to accomplish the project. This isn’t anyway nearly as easily done in Together thus defeating my purpose from the get go of easy in easy out.

Retrieval of Info is the Real Reason I want to get back to DEVONthink

I’ve spent the time learning DEVONthink. I really want to use the product again so that I can get the information out of it in as easy a way possible and fast. I need to not only be able to manipulate the information as just that – information – but it has to be able to be turned into knowledge.

DEVONthink as a Knowledge Manager did this for me before and it is already doing it for me again. It is meeting my needs.

I am not an overly mobile person so that the product lacks mobility to a degree does not affect me as much as it could. There are other reasons I would like to see DEVONthink cloud based but for now in that it can do what it can do for me is more than adequate.

I feel like I’ve come back in from the rain. It was interesting out there to find out what it was like and what is going on. However, now I need to be productive again. I’ve no doubt that DEVONthink and I will make wonderful partners in crime. When the product comes out cloud based and all well then bonus!. I look forward to that day but I won’t deny myself the opportunity to be more productive now simply because the product isn’t cloud based. I will garner as much benefit that I can from a product that has already proven itself to me and wait for the product that I know will prove its worth.

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  1. Hi. I am an engineer, I work with lots of pdf’ed drawings, specifications, product data, software tools etc etc. I have owned devon think pro office for a few years and have yet to find a use case for it. For finding articles, etc, its much better to use the mac finder along with sensible tagging and commenting – you never have any problem finding stuff and it opens in its native program. The only time i thought I found a use for it was when I needed to search for text in a pdf’ed drawing (e.g. searching for switchboard “SB201” within a billion pdf’ed drawings). I now know that preview will do that. I was just going through my dt2 databases and transferring the info to evernote when I read your article. I am now convinced I can delete DT for good.

    • Yes, DEVONthink has not kept pace with the times. There actually are some good scearios for it but not without mobile and they have been talking the DTTG2 line for 2.5 years. I think it’s probably time for them to give it a rest. They don’t have the money to compete in this kind of market. It’s time to call it a day.

    • You can delete DT. I use DT in conjunction with Evernote. I port every note from DT to Evernote. I don’t trust DT any longer. I have heard nothing from the company and they are rapidly if they already aren’t done. They had their day in the sun but you have to be able to keep up and they can’t. DT is better than Evernote to organize and stuff but if you need something extra, there are other programs available. I think I spent so much time in dvt that I am attached to the program. However, I am making sure nothing is locked in it.

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