Ask Sam

This is just FYI for anyone who might find it useful.

I’ve just recently switched to a Mac for the first time. Prior to that, I always used a software called Ask Sam for my free form database. After switching, I bought Devonthink Pro and Devon Agent and began using them.

The Devon combination has several advantages over Ask Sam when it comes to doing research. Together Devonthink Pro and Devon Agent are an excellent tool for finding information on the internet and filing it on your computer. In addition, Devon is also very friendly to filing the results of searches from other online search engines the libraries use.

But, Ask Sam has it all over Devon when it comes to searching an existing database for a specific document. You can find whatever you want in Devon, but it takes a little longer and the way Devon works you may end up going down a rabbit trail before you get where you want to be. Devon is actually better at exploring your data. But if you want something specific, Ask Sam is by far the best. It’s faster and lets you do searches with complex parameters. Ask Sam also does a better job of uploading emails, working with scanners and importing large volumes of documents.

Ask Sam will also double as a structered database and has a passably good word processor in it. It runs fine in Parallels. On the other hand, it’s tres easy to get documents into Scrivener from Devon, while Ask Sam requires dragging the file from Parallels to the Mac desktop, THEN importing it in. Not a big hassle, but a little more work.

All this is just a comparison for people who might be interested. Devon is very good and I am using it a lot. But there are certain big databases that I’ve left in Ask Sam simply because it’s soooo much easier to get what I want out of it.

I dont know if I would buy Ask Sam if I didn’t have it already, but I am glad I have both. Ask Sam has been around a while and the software never stops being usable. I upgraded a year ago from version 3 to version 6. Version 3 came on 3 floppies and ran originally on Windows 3.1 when I first bought it in 1993. The only reason I ugraded was that I lost the floppies and thought…after 13 years, why not?



some of your scepticism will be solved with the next version of DT (2.0) and some are solved in the Office-Version. Problem is, when will 2.0 come out to the market? After Leopard, but shortly after Leopard? One critique I do not understand is the speed of the search: My databases search Gigabytes of data in an instance of a second.

Anyway, in your case, as you are so satisfied with AskSam (I heard many satisfied comments from friends using Windows with AskSam), I would stay with AskSam for a while and wait for how DT evolves.
Among the other solutions discussed on this forum as well, it may still be the best choice, but it does have its drawbacks, and it is a pity that the next versions takes so much time.


Hi Maria!

I agree that Devon is a great software, and it has many advantages over Ask Sam. But Ask Sam is better at searching for a specific piece of information. From what you say, Devon is going to improve its search tools. If that happens it will be superior to Ask Sam.

Ask Sam is faster. Not that Devon is slow, but if you’re looking for a specific quote, date or other piece of information, Ask Sam can get it for you in an eye blink. I’ve heard of attorneys who take computers with Ask Sam to court with them so they can access briefs, case references or whatever while they’re in court.

On the other hand, Devon is a great tool for filing and then easily accessing web research, something that Ask Sam only does in a club-footed sort of way.

Both softwares are excellent at what they do. I am in now way trying to drum up business for Ask Sam. I just put this on the forum in case there was someone who might find it useful.