Creating 3rd party file formats from inside DevonThink

With DevonThink as the hub of my document management, I want to create files from inside the app itself. This works great for text related documents .txt, .rtf, .md, but what about .docx, .xlsx, .pptx and the like. Or even a document format to be named later?

The answer is very simple and I’m surprised and perhaps a little disappointed it took me this long to get around to sorting it out.

The process involves making a document of the type you plan to use in the future then making that available to DevonThink as a template.

First, within DevonThink, select Data->New From Template->Open Templates Folder. This will open the Templates.noindex folder.

Next, make a blank document from each application you want to work with in the future. For example, open Writer from within LibreOffice and save a blank document as .docx, then another for .odt. Do the same for Calc as .xlsx and .ods, Presentation and all your other document types. I have this setup for Taskpaper, Scapple, and Mellel as well.

When DevonThink makes a new document, it will copy whatever is in your file to the new document. So, it is indeed a template. If you need to add header text, set up formatting, set a default font, or add instructions, now is the time to do it.

Gather up all your new files and drag them to the location opened when you selected Open Templates Folder.

All done.

Within DevonThink, right click in a location and select, New From Template Or from the menu select Data->New From Template. The documents you just created will be listed. When selected, a new document of that type will be created with the Kind attribute set to that document type.

You can now double-click the document to have it open in the parent application. Or right click, Open With and select the parent application.

Depending on how many file types you want to work with, this should only take a few minutes.

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SummerFest with DevonThink, DevonAgent and Friends

Summer is here, quite literally a few hours away, so let the summer sales begin! To kick things off, DevonTechnologies has partnered with several other software vendors to offer SummerFest2020.

It’s a great way to get a 25% discount on their products as well as some companion products that integrate very nicely and improve your research workflow.

This would be a great time to get both DevonThink and DevonAgent.

DevonThink goes far beyond note-taking to offer a complete document management solution. It has become the central hub of information on both my home and work Macs.

I have text files, spreadsheets, task lists, Jira ticket notes, test plans, PDFs, RSS feeds, web archives, code examples and more all tucked away in there. It is a fantastic tool and I think I would be completely lost without it.

DevonAgent is a must have for web research. And now that I have Adguard blocking ads within the DA browser, I’m using it more than ever.

There is a wealth of information beyond the first 10-20 results that Google brings back, DevonAgent is a way to find, parse, and browse that information with ease.

There are also other excellent tools like Nisus Writer, Bookends and Tinderbox.

So, if you were thinking about adding the Devon tools to your workflow and improving productivity, now is a great time to get them.

DevonThink and DevonAgent SummerFest2020

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Three months of working remotely

I've crossed over the three month mark of working from home. And despite circumstances, I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

By not being stuck in traffic I have so much more time available. I've been able to exercise with more frequency and still have plenty of time in the evening to play games, watch a movie, or work on side projects like Affinity, Inkle, or doing fun research with DevonAgent.

Not to mention, I've saved a ton of money by not eating out and not buying gas. No sympathy for the oil companies I'm afraid.

I've also been working on getting my organization groove on. I've made dozen of changes and improvements to my notes, folder and database structure within DevonThink. I've even moved a lot of documentation into DevonThink that was lingering in different folders on the drive. Everything in one place, very tidy.

I've created several new Alfred and Keyboard Maestro workflows which have been some nice little timesavers. (Clicking the Save button on a site 150 times using KM, is both fun, and educational)

I've added quite a few new text expansions to TypeIt4Me for both Katalon automation, SQL, and template text for Jira. And I've fixed the mess that was my SnippetsLab library.

Taskpaper is getting quite a workout. I've really put that at the center of my workflow for working on tickets and test cases.

And finally, I've made some nice search and replace modules for TextSoap. I've been doing them by hand, but now I've taken the time to automate that as well.

So all this extra time, as well as uninterrupted time has given me quite a few productivity boosts.

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Using Taskpaper with DevonThink for Task Management

I purchased Taskpaper from one of the previous BundleHunt sales and have started using it more and more. My first attempts were simple checklists, marking off weekend chores, but I've started to dig a bit deeper into how it can help me.

A recent addition to my workflow is to use Taskpaper to track my progress on Jira tickets.

Starting in DevonThink, for tickets I work on, I create a new Taskpaper file. This is the ticket number with .taskpaper as the extension, such as xyz-1234.taskpaper. I'm very much trying to group documents in DevonThink these days.

Inside Taskpaper, I copy any requirements from the ticket, then start making my own notes of what I tested and how I did it.

I include information like user data, inventory SKUs, prices, quantities, etc.

I also list acceptance criteria such as:
Item price can't be above X
Item can't be sold in region X
Discount can't be higher than X

For each item, I put in my example, then cross it off after it has passed. Taskpaper then adds the completed date for reference.

I also have a summary Taskpaper project that lists the tasks for the Sprint. As I complete them, I cross them off. I also make note they are in progress, what has been completed, or what additional information is needed to move forward. If there are blockers, those are listed as well.

During our stand-up meetings, I reference my summary list of what I'm working on. If needed, I open the actual ticket file, and go over the results.

When my work is done, I save the file as a PDF and attach it to the ticket in Jira. This creates a nice record of what I did, what my test plan was, what examples I used, and my steps for the testing.

I've just recently adopted this, but so far it works well. I log what I'm working on, I see what I've tested, what is left to be done, and all the example data. If a ticket doesn't get completed in a day, I have a solid trail of breadcrumbs to follow to pick right back up where I left off and not repeat work I've already done, or guess what's next.

The other cool thing about Taskpaper, it's all done in plain text so it can be copied into anything.

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DevonThink – The most powerful note taking application I have ever used

Truth be told, calling DevonThink a note taking app is like saying a Lamborghini is a neat car. In reality, DevonThink is a document management application which note only creates notes, but track documents, images, web pages, RSS Feeds and just about any other file you have on your system.

Originally I was stored code snippets in Boostnote and project documents in Freeter. I then had some documents tracked in Pagico and some in mini note. But that is too many notes and too many places to look for them. Then DevonThink came in and stored them all.

Since it is document centric, it stored files in it’s own database, or multiple databases. I now have a Project database, a Development database, a Review database and within each is a series of folders with notes, PDF files, documents, spreadsheets, shell scripts, document templates, diagrams, links, source code for Java and SQL, JMeter config files and every other digital note I have created.

In fact, everything goes into DevonThink because it is all searchable. I store PDF files, requirements documents, Jira links, test plans and all my project documents together. No more looking in multiple places or storing a little bit here, a little bit there.

As an example, for my latest testing project I created a new folder and created notes with links to the Jira requirements. I created notes for the SQL queries I needed to verify my results. There was a link to the test plan I was going to follow. Additionally I had a list of bug reports and outstanding issues. For reference, I had screenshots of what things should look like so I could check we had all the buttons and column headers.

This makes keeping up with the project so much easier. Everything is in one place, even if the documents are completely different.

There is also DevonThink To Go for iOS. I have a copy for my iPad which I use in meetings.

The list of features is impressive, almost overwhelming. With Black Friday sales coming up, with kids going back to school, with projects wrapping up for the end of the year, now is a great time to invest in some document sanity.

What’s more, there is a brand new version of DevonThink available. Version 3 has just come out with all new features, a new look and lots of improvements. If you collect a lot of data, DevonThink is a tool well worth investing in.

DevonThink for Mac

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