DEVONthink Pro Office: The Return

Man crossimg Yukon

For the longest while, I was a heavy duty DEVONthink Pro Office user. I, at one point, participated in the beta trials that brought the product Dropbox sync. However, with the passage of time, my mobility needs were increasing and the current DEVONthink to Go mobility product wasn’t meeting my requirements. It seemed, that although there was a DEVONthink to Go 2 product in the works, it appeared to be getting more elusive than real.

Eventually, I had to make a decision. I decided it was time to move to a cross platform product that had excellent mobility attributes. Things were fine for a while but I longed for the days of DEVONthink. Simply put, it was a nimbler product that’s architecture worked more in the way I worked. I have now gone a bit of full circle and am back to DEVONthink Pro Office but this time around my mobility needs are far more modest and I have a workaround should I need it.

The Benefits Remain plus….

Hot soup nutrition
DEVONthink’s main benefits of course all remain, many of which I pointed out in previous articles. This has not changed. If anything, these benefits have all been beefed up. I can write notes and much more in a very fluid fashion. Further, when I go to look for this information down the road, it isn’t far away if it happens to be something I worked on.

The loose end at the time and which remains so is solid, robust mobility. It just doesn’t exist. Yes, there is a mobility product but it was out of date at the time I decided to change course. That product, though somewhat improved needed a ton of improvements. A number of improvements did of course occur, but they couldn’t fix at the architectural level the inherent problems. That requires a DEVONthink to Go 2.

This is generally the case. Once these improvements are made, it is going to be a night and day scenario. I certainly look forward to this day but it won’t be the end of me. If DEVONthink fails I am no farther behind the curve. However, I look forward to a robust DEVONthink Pro Office and certainly would pay heartily for that. Yet, I don’t think that will be necessary.

A Cursory Look at GTD

Moleskin gtd
At our information sites, simply referred to as “Tech Today/The Group” one of the key mandates is to provide information that will allow you to stay abreast of technological trends and advances. We have covered not only hard changes but those that can be described as soft changes. Although this can be very rewarding, it can certainly have its downside.

The model that we work with to enhance productivity is that of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. This is a very logical look at the way we best accomplish things and do Get things Done. Written by a psychologist, it has had an interesting monumental uptake by the software community. A whole industry has been built around GTD and the best way of implementing that in software.

Two Main Components

At one level, there is the driver software or the task managers that keep things on a trajectory to tell everyone where they should end up. Done poorly, it can have poor consequences. Done right, it can have some very fascinating and profound effects.

At the one level, you need task management software to lay out what needs to get done. One task is simply that; a task. Two or more tasks become a project. As we proceed down either road, research material needs to be contained that goes into the project. Some projects require a lot of research while others don’t. Yet, there still has to be the container or end point for this material.

Further, complex projects require a lot of material to support the recommendations and the build out.

DEVONthink as the Bucket

DEVONthink
The job of the task management software is of course majorily important. However, so too is that of the bucket. It just does not get the recognition that the task management software seems too. It needs to work with you as well as that of the task management software.

My return to DEVONthink Pro Office is predicated on this basic principle. I just work the best in DEVONthink with it’s shortcomings. As I worked with other tools, although there were benefits, non were as strong as DEVONthink Pro Office.

Combined with the right task management software, the combination is very powerful. However, as technology is pulling ahead so is the strains being placed on software and problems might be taking on larger implications than are really there.

As I mentioned earlier, my circumstances were changing which dictated a lack of requirement for the kind of mobility I at one time required. With this in mind, I began to wonder if DEVONthink might more adequately meet my needs. The answer was a definitive yes.

The Road Back

Going back to DEVONthink is not nearly as problematic as you would think. I really never left. I used it, more on the sidelines, for critical information. I never lost what it could do, what I needed it to do and how to make that happen.

It was just a matter of repositioning it as my primary DB and the one with the mobility as my ancillary db. Thus, if I needed something that had information in a remote setting, I was easily able to access that info. There are actually new techniques appearing that make this all the more likely.

The Road Back to the Benefits

There are of course all the benefits I mentioned way back when if you’re using a DEVONthink style DB. Decision making is improved, support for the decisions are more readily at hand and if measurement needs to be done, the data is more easily acquired.

It is important when reviewing a project and why one thing was done over another, to have the supporting documentation for an approach. As DEVONthink is enhanced, it will be able to play a stronger role in this camp. Winging it might be there in theory alone as the data will back up the decision.

There is No Mistake no matter What the Outcome

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Although there is an aspect to this that sounds a little risky, it was kind of a damned if you do, and damned if you didn’t. If the downside scenario sounded so severe there would, of course, be no point in doing this. Yet, at best it was a strong, potential win. I was simply more effective using DEV0Nhink than not. In the worst case scenario, it appeared to one in which you couldn’t really loose as you wouldn’t know until you tried it.

In the best case scenario, you’re happily working back in the environment you were most effective in. The end result; you’re more effective in what you’re producing, less stressed and actually having some fun again.

2 Comments

  • Have you an opinion on the software that perform the best with Devonthink : “Combined with the right task management software, the combination is very powerful.”
    Have you experimented Devonthink Pro with Taskpaper ?

  • Kerry Dawson says:

    Yes I have. Taskpaper is a novel and very interesting approach. I like it. However, it doesn’t integrate with DEVONthink as well as some other products in which DEVONTHINK provides scripts to create a task for a note. DEVONthink has a built in script for Reminders, OmniFocus, The Hit List and Tasks. Of these programs my favourite is the Hit List followed by Omnifocus. Having a natural integration just improves your flow but say you needed a cross platform system then 2do would be a good one but they don’t have integration with it and DEVONthink isn’t cross platform. Either of the two, based on your preference above would be what I’d recommend.

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