DEVONthink 3 (beta)

Has anybody been trying this? I’ve only dabbled a little. Is it just me, or have they messed up the navigation? In a decade and more of working in previous versions I always found the UI … not something I enjoyed, but I could see some logic to it. The new UI has some things better (in my view) but other things … well … that I am struggling to see the logic for. Granted, it is new and unfamiliar, but I am having difficulty working out what my workflow would be like in the new version. And I am not the only one, to judge from comments on their forum (OK, new versions always attract a lot of negativity). They do say that this is not the finished UI and that there are some changes in the pipeline, however. Just interested in impressions if people have them.


I’ve only downloaded and quickly looked at it myself. I’m not enthused about the dropping of 3 pane view, and have just posted in the same thread as you. Once I get through a pretty major project I’m hoping to get to grips with it, but if there is a steep learning curve to the new version, I’ll probably start to look at alternatives. The beauty of Scriv 3 was that one could just upgrade from 2 and carry on using it seamlessly.

I’ve been using DT3 for a couple of weeks, and so far have found it to be a very useful upgrade. The new UI has some nice tricks which were missing or had to be faked in DT2 — the multi-purpose inspector panel has excellent new features, for an example. The addition of Smart Rules looks useful, too — though I’ve not yet settled down to working how I’ll use it exactly. Finally, the greater integration with the Finder for indexed files is very welcome, as is the fact that Classification now works across all databases, not just the current one.

Obviously, as a first beta, there are rough edges and things which don’t quite work (keyboard shortcuts linked to navigation aren’t nailed down yet), but overall I think it’s an impressive update.

On the most controversial issue — the removal of the Three Pane View (which I used 99% of the time) — I’ve found a few ways to give some of the same functionality, but there’s something not quite definable about why the new methods don’t feel as comfortable or effective yet.

As well as sheer unfamiliarity (I’ve been using DT2 for 10 years), I think it’s to do with the fact that the Sidebar is a second class citizen in terms of what you can do with groups. I’m used to being able to do what I like with them in the left hand panel (the first of the 3 of the Three Panes, not the old Database View which I usually hid) — you can’t do nearly as much with the sidebar. E.g. you can’t select more than one group at once, you can’t navigate with the keyboard, you can’t see the info panel, etc.

Instead you have to go through extra steps to set up the combination of Sidebar selection, List View type and Preview panel you used to get for free with the Three Pane View. If feels unnecessarily clunky — there must be a reason why it’s not been included, but so far I’ve not seen one. The developer has said that they’ll introduce multiple selection, the ability to see the info popover and a ‘documents’ only view though, so perhaps these will make the grieving process shorter…

Still, the other improvements are well worth the upgrade and I’m sure eventually I’ll get used to it and forget about the old way.

I had never used DT 2, in part because of the antiquated UI but also because of the attitude of the support staff to anyone who dared to mention any issues with it. But I’ve been using the DT 3 beta for a few weeks and quite like it, esp. in combination with DTTG. Unfortunately their attitude to user input still seems to be RTFM or some equally patronising and superior comments.