I am coming at this as a complete newbie and not quite sure what DEVONthink can offer me over what I have already. I heard the application being described as a combination of the app Jojimbo, Scrivener and a dash of AI (Artificial Intelligence) thrown in for good measure. I have Evernote when gives me the receptacle for stuff I want to save for reference. I have Scrivener and it really is the business for writers. I don’t have much intelligence, artificial or otherwise. So lets see what we have to do to get started.
Which version should I get???
There are multiple versions and the top end ones are a bit pricey. The people that get using Devonthink do love the app and what it gives them in functionality and swear that it is well worth spending the money. We shall see! I have gone for the Devonthink Personal because I had a licence for a previous version and if I do the upgrade to the latest then it will be to this version. Not sure if I would have the need for all of the bells and whistles in the Pro versions.
I applied to DEVONthink to get the pro version that they offered to journalist, bloggers and reviewers and they sent me a not for sale copy. So this is what I will be using for my review and tutorials.
Learning to use DEVONthink
Because of the complexity of this application it is absolutely vital that you devote a reasonable amount of time in learning how to use it. It is in fact quite amazing some of the things that can be done with DEVONthink and is well worth spending the time looking at the tutorials. When you open up the application there is a start-up window and there are links to tutorials and hints and tips. I would suggest that it is a good idea to watch the videos and in some cases watch the videos twice. The way that I recommend is to watch the video from start to finish in one go first of all, and then to watch it again stopping at points along the way to try the processes involved in the video.
There is for example, a very good video showing you how the tagging works within DEVONthink. There is a setting that you can change within the project properties and it is explained in the video how to do that to get better use from the tagging. It also shows you how you can use tagging to create searches and how to save those searches to make smart folders or smart groups. One of the great things about videos is that you can pause them and then go and try what it is that you are being shown. Better still, you can go back to an earlier point in the video and watch specific lessons in the video again.
Don’t overdo it with the tutorials either.
There is a huge amount of information to get through and things to learn about the application DEVONthink, so it is probably a good idea to dive into the application after watching one of the videos showing a portion of what you need to know. This way you will make sure that you will properly learn the lessons and not forget things. Practice a number of times what you find in the tutorials before you go on to learning the next thing that you need to know.
My own exploration of using Devonthink
There is a book that I want to write and I have decided to use DEVONthink as much as possible for the completion of this project. For that purpose I need to use the companion to DEVONthink which is DEVONagent Pro or possibly DEVONagent Express. Which of these you using will depend upon your requirements and needs for your project as well as the amount of money you’re prepared to spend on this system. I am working with DEVONthink Pro and so I am going to pair that with DEVONagent Pro, but you could just as well be using that with the personal version if you are using DEVONthink Personal instead.
Using DEVONagent Pro I can do a web search on my topic of choice. This application gives me a much better sorting of the web articles that are found, than I would find by doing an ordinary Google search. Also it makes it quite easy for me to take the information found and put it into DEVONthink. As I am moving the found information, my resources and research into DEVONthink I’m able to add notes and also tags. This means that later when I am looking to use the smart artificial intelligence that is the best feature of the DEVONthink application, it will do a much better job.
The artificial intelligence of DEVONthink
The application analyses the data that you put into it and has features that will suggest connections between one set of data and another. Obviously, this will be very useful in terms of giving you other things to think and to write about. It is helpful to the creative process when DEVONthink is able to stimulate your creative juices. I can certainly see that this is going to be very useful for the writing of my book and it certainly would be especially handy if you are writing a paper for an educational purpose.
In the next article I will be looking at the DEVONthink application in more detail starting with getting it has set up ready to do things with.