Home > June 2003 > Reviews
DEVONthink Personal Edition 1.5.3
Reviewed by Andrew McVinnie
DEVONtechnologies http://www.devon-technologies.com $44.95 Requirements OS X
DEVONthink is handy application designed to be your personal knowledge base or expert system and content management environment. When I first read about it, I thought "Hmmm... Sounds interesting but what would I actually use it for?"
I read about some examples of uses, such as storing URLs, clip art, news clippings, and basically anything that is dragable from one application to another, i.e., files from the finder, URLs from your browser, clippings from Photoshop. All of these worked for me but I was still left thinking "why?"
Then I started thinking about the clip art. My set of clip art is on some fifteen odd CDs. It came with a giant catalog book the size of the Denver yellow pages. When you want to find a piece of clip art, say a banana, you must get the book. Then you have to guess how it might be stored. Is it in "Food?" Probably, but there are also several bananas in the "Animals" category along side the monkeys. So its not hard, but it is a whole workflow just to get the clip art you want. Once I have retrieved the image I want, I usually do what I need to do to it in Photoshop, then I save it locally on my hard drive, so that next time I don't have to go through the whole deal again.
That's when it hit me. Why not store these images I have retrieved in DEVONthink? You can add keywords to each file, link it to others with a "see also" function, and when I need a banana, it's easily found and dragged out of DEVONthink to my desktop.
Sorting? Did you ask about sorting? You can sort your information just you can in the Finder, with folders. As many as you want. Folders within folders, folders just for bananas...
Another use I thought of of was homework storage. If you are a teacher you can store all your students work DEVONthink and reference it all year. If you are a student, you could easily save every paper or thesis you ever wrote in here, fully searchable, and referenced as to when you wrote it, for what class and even what grade you received.
How did I use it? I used it for this very issue of MacIssues. I stored and edited every submitted article right in DEVONthink. I also stored all the screenshots, icons and artwork right here also. I referenced all the art to its respective article so nothing would get left out. I even wrote all my articles and review directly in it. DEVONthink has a wonderful built-in text editor that handle both plain text and rich text. Both handy when going directly to InDesign.
One feature I was surprised was missing was some sort of "Open in Original Editor" button. This button would let you open your images, or clip art, right in Photoshop or GraphicConverter for editing, then save them right back into DEVONthink. I also thought an "email" button would be nice. Similar to iPhoto, the email button in DEVONthink would allow you select an item, and kick it into Mail with one click of a button. Maybe they will have these features in later version.
Even though I have gotten used to it, DEVONthink still strikes me as a program so intelligently designed, that I have barely tapped its potential. Like the Unix layer Darwin underneath Mac OS X, I suspect DEVONthink is more powerful than I can imagine.
Easily store, reference and catalog any number of files, URLs, movies, or anything you want. Nice text editor.
Needs tighter application integration so items stored can be kicked directly were you want them.