Saturday, 25 March 2017

DevonTHINK Go: Your Knowledge at Your Fingertips

DevonTHINK Go is a powerful tool for managing large text databases made up of text files, images, web clippings and PDFs. Think of it as a mix between file manager and research database, allowing you to save your images, web clippings and PDFs in the same place you have written up your essay draft.


DevonTHINK works in a world of databases and groups. Databases are the catch all, and then inside of them you have groups. You can still save things into a database without groups, however it’s a lot better organised if you use groups to sort out your files. The app also allows you to sync your databases, and a great advantage of this is that you can selectively sync individual databases, and also encrypt them with a key if you want. On demand downloading is also available, saving space on your device.

When you open DevonTHINK up for the first time, you’ll come across the Global Inbox. This is the default database, where everything you quickly save goes to. You can create groups and tasks in this too. You can create as many databases as you want, and they appear under the Global Inbox. In those databases you can create groups, which further organise your files and items. You can create groups in these groups, and so on. It’s very flexible, and it’s easy to manage your files in the app.

There are multiple things you can add to a database, from images to markdown text. You can add recordings, PDFs and multiple other files. DevonTHINK also offers you multiple ways to get your files into DevonTHINK. It has a ‘Clip to DevonTHINK’ in the share extension, as well as a document picker allowing you to open files in DevonTHINK in other apps.

DevonTHINK support's a wealth of different file formats (click to enlarge)
DevonTHINK has a very advanced x-callback-URL scheme, and allows you to get individual URLs for every document in the app. This means that you can create quick links to specific files in your database. For example, I could have a ‘pipelines’ document in DevonTHINK, get the document URL and add it to a URL launcher in Launcher Pro. This means that I can quickly open it from across my iOS device. I could also create a Workflow that opens the URL, and then save that Workflow as a app icon. The URL scheme is certainly very powerful, and can come in very handy if you refer to the same document multiple times a day.

What really surprised me when I started DevonTHINK up was the fact that I could create text notes in markdown, rich text, plain text or a formatted note. I love using markdown, and it’s especially useful as I can also create plain text and rich text notes if I want to. I do wish that there was some way that I could put images into my notes, but DevonTHINK isn’t really a writing app, it’s more of a research manager.


The web clipping feature that DevonTHINK is pretty powerful, and renders some great results. I can save the webpages as they are, and view them as if I was on a browser, and I can view them whether online or offline. I can also save the webpage through Instapaper, meaning that they are only the article and look a lot cleaner. Once again, I can generate a document link for these clips and refer to them throughout my database.

Searching on DevonTHINK is extremely powerful. It allows you to use Boolean operators, and you can search for documents where there is one result that is there, but not another. I find the Boolean operator very useful, however I was a little disappointed when the words were not highlighted.

If you are looking for an app to manage large research databases, and take notes and link around that database, DevonTHINK certainly is for you. I was impressed with the range of external keyboard shortcuts, and I certainly love the feature of making individual x-callback-URL’s for each document.
One thing that I would like to see is the ability to sync using iCloud. Whilst it already supports services such as Dropbox, I've found that iCloud sync is very reliable, and I would like to see compatibility with iCloud.


Personally, I won’t be using DevonTHINK much. Whilst I think that it is a great app, it has no Windows counterpart, and I also use Evernote a lot. Whilst DevonTHINK has more features, such as markdown and better search, Evernote is good enough for me.

So, should you get DevonTHINK? If you often research topics, for example essay topics, and want a database to put all your research in along with your notes, DevonTHINK is certainly for you. You can clip web articles, have photos and your notes all together, and sync them across your devices with Dropbox.

I’ll be giving DevonTHINK a go when I next have a large project, and see how it copes with that. DevonTHINK is available on the App Store at £14.99.

Thanks for reading!

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