How I Use DevonAgent Pro
DevonAgent Pro is a tool I use a couple of times per week for deep dive searches across the Internet. It’s a way to gather up hundreds of web articles, remove duplicates, and filter for the content I’m interested in. If anyone remembers a tool from many years ago called Copernic Agent, it mirrors some of that excellent functionality.
Google is great when you want a quick answer, or a summary, or just need clarification on a topic. Most of the time, the information you need comes up within the first two pages of results such as a product review, name of a product, or link to Wikipedia. But, when doing research, or trying to dig deeper into a subject, you’ll notice that those first 2-3 pages of Google results are in many ways the same article summarized and repeated on different sites. DevonAgent can sift through those repeated results to give more concise information.
Once articles are located, they can be further filtered using Search. If the results are good, start reading to see search keywords highlighted within the article, so you can jump straight to the relevant information. This alone saves a lot of time.
The way I use DevonAgent is to enter my terms, then kick off the search while I continue working. DevonAgent searches multiple engines at the same time, removing duplicate or similar articles, skipping sites that aren’t relevant, and ignoring dead links. This gets rid of a lot of false leads. Sites like Pinterest and others are ignored since they don’t usually have high quality results.
When done, there is a nice list to scroll through, view the summary, visit the site, or save the results for viewing later. Using DevonAgent it’s possible to parse several hundred websites in a few minutes not days or even hours.
I use this to find older books, learn about bits of history, get a deep dive of material that really interests me, locate PDF files, find apps, plugins, learn about authors, find relevant videos, and gather information on productivity methods.
For example, let’s say you wanted to learn more about the “SCARF Method,” which is very interesting. Or you want to delve into the concept of “Kaizen,” used by Toyota. Google does a good job of giving highlights, but when you want to get past those summary pages, DevonAgent will load you up with quality information.
The same would be true if you wanted to dig into a certain field of Machine Learning, a particular area of Psychology, or a management style you want to develop.
What makes DevonAgent unique is that you can use query keywords like AND, OR, NOT and NEAR to make found articles even more relevant. For example, “Scarf” needs to be within 2 words of “Method” (NEAR) for the article to be relevant. This is extremely helpful when using common words that need to be together, not just in the article. This can also be used for related words such as “machine learning” OR “ml” AND “artificial intelligence” OR “ai,” etc. This is done as a single query so you can cover multiple topics at once.
As an example, I wanted to find some Halloween synth wave audios from Confused Bi-Product of a Misinformed Culture. DevonAgent sifted through 281 files, and parsed 52MB worth of web page data. In the end, I got 31 results, which contained exactly the files and information I was looking for.
For another search, I simply put in “Jacques Pepin.” Even though it was hundreds of results, it wasn’t the same thing over and over again. Had I added something like “turkey” or “stuffing” or “kitchen essentials,” I would have gotten a shorter, more concise list.
With AdGuard installed, DevonAgent makes a great browser. Alas, it doesn’t allow plugins to block ads and the like, but with AdGuard, that’s no longer a problem. Ads are blocked at the OS level using the full app.
It has a great feature to render the web page as plain text, which makes it easy to copy code, quotes, or whatever text is relevant on the page. It makes image heavy sites far more manageable. You can also hover over an image or link to see the path of URL.
Further, the DevonAgent browser has great integration into DevonThink Office Pro for note taking and archiving. The page can be saved to DevonThink Office Pro as a PDF or Web Archive. You can also highlight text and make a new note. This is great for code examples, SQL queries, and reference material. Very easy to capture information without switching between apps and a ton of copy/paste.
DevonAgent also has the See Also button, which reveals a huge amount of detail about a page. You can see links, RSS feeds, social media links, documents, video and music files, as well as images. You can easily follow links to other material, download documents, view charts, and get access to a wealth of information. It’s a way to peek behind the scenes of a site that is far more readable than “View Source.”
DevonAgent also supports Search Sets. After awhile, you may notice that 5 or 10 websites consistently yield the information you’re looking for. You can make a Search Set that searches those sites together and returns results. For example, you could search GitHub, StackOverflow and Apple Developer at the same time. I’ve created quite a few of those, and start my searches there rather than starting at Google each time.
Another very beneficial feature of DevonAgent results is the Digest view. This lists additional keywords related to your search criteria. It can be used to see other topics related to what you’re looking for. This gives wonderful search insight and can lead you to some unexpected discoveries. It can also point you in the right if your subject is part of a larger topic or vice versa. This is something you won’t find in other browsers.
All these features combined have made DevonAgent and DevonThink Office Pro my reference library. I use DevonAgent to find and summarize information, then use DevonThink Office Pro to store everything I need. It’s an incredibly powerful combination that I use regularly. I’ve located tons of information, solved multiple problems, and learned a ton by using DevonAgent. All the good bits are stored in DevonThink Office Pro.
Here is a fun example of looking for some Synthwave Halloween music. The Digest shows how the keywords are related. Clicking a keyword shows results related to that term. This can be used to see connections, find other keywords to search on, and how topics can be related.
If you look at the log, you can see how DevonAgent filters out pages because they don’t the search criteria or don’t have content. Some Spotify results are returned for my search, but they aren’t a match, so they’re excluded. This is what makes DevonAgent so powerful and efficient. These are false leads I don’t have to waste my time visiting.
Other articles of interest:
- DevonAgent for Deep Dive Internet searches
- Integrating DevonAgent Pro with Alfred
- SummerFest with DevonThink, DevonAgent and Friends
- Cool Mac Tools for Back to School
- How I Use DevonThink Pro Office
- Using Adguard to block ads in Internet aware apps on the Mac
- Getting a handle on all those files
- Winterfest 2020
- AdGuard Family Plan: Lifetime Subscription for $29.99
- How I use Alfred