Help! Software for web based research needed..

Hello everybody –

I have been offered a deal to write a non-fiction book. Fantastic! And very, very intimidating… Writing a non-fiction book is an entirely different matter from writing an article or fiction as I usually do. And the deadline will be late this Fall.

Up to now I have done all my writing and researching in Scrivener. I feel very much at home there. But it seems to me that for the large amount of data, especially web retrieved data, that I will have to collect from now on I need an app which compliments Scrivener.

Which one do you recommend? What are your experiences?

Thank you everybody!


I’ve been using EagleFiler. It’s simple and effective, and seems to play nicely with other OS apps. You can import directly from Safari, NNW, Mail, etc. It supports Growl and MailTags. Bookmarklets directly archive web content in different formats (PDF, text, rtf).

But I’d try several for a few days; find out what you’re comfortable with.


Google Evernote and see if that helps.

Be sure to give credits…


I suggest starting from a different direction: first make a list of what you think your requirements and budget are likely to be.

There are many products out there. None of them in my experience is downright bad, most are pretty good - but they all do slightly different things (at different prices). Different views on this forum may therefore reflect the differing needs of the posters, which may not equate exactly with yours.

So start with your criteria - unless that is you enjoy spending quite large chunks of time learning and then trialling the numerous applications available.


P.S. Well done on the deal!

Thank you everybody. I have looked into the recommended apps and also discovered some others. The one that I like best is called DevonThink.

Do any of you have any experience with this seemingly complicated program?

As to my budget: I am willing to spend a maximum of 100 Euros.

Thanks again,


I have experience of DevonThink. It comes in four flavours: DevonNote, DevonThink Personal, DevonThink Pro and DevonThink Pro Office. The website will tell you the differences between them, but it’s my impression that for serious non-fiction research, DevonThink Pro or Pro Office are the weapons of choice.

It’s probably fair to say that at the Pro and Pro Office end, DevonThink is the most heavyweight of all the applications in this category. These versions have at least three distinguishing features:

  • they can contain the most documents without noticeably slowing down your computing. (However, unless you have thousands of documents, less powerful applications such as Together or Eaglefiler may be adequate.)

  • they include so-called “Artificial Intelligence” functionality. This consists of various types of sophisticated searching and semantic matching. (But you may not need or want this degree of complexity, and in any case there is a threshold in terms of the number of documents required to make all of this work effectively. 10,000 has been quoted; the limit may be lower.)

  • DevonThink Pro and Pro Office are probably the most expensive of the pure-database applications in this category.

They have other characteristics: for example Pro Office will OCR hardcopy, and they will both work hand-in-glove with DevonAgent, which is a clever search agent/website crawler (and in my opinion the most useful of all the Devon tools).

Minuses: read the forums - some criticise the UI which is seen as less pretty than it should be. Lack of proper tagging was a source of criticisms but the versions now in beta are planned to redress this. It’s currently less easy than with some other such applications to add a quick note to the database.

But overall, a highly reputable set of products. You may or may not need less power, which may cost you less in time and cash (hence my previous advice to think out your likely needs first :wink: ).

There are other DevonThink users here who may have different views.


You’ll never outgrow DevonThink Pro (or Pro Office). The others, in my experience, become clumsy once you get to a few hundred documents, much less a few thousand.


Hey, thank you Hugh, what a great post (and thanks everybody else too). It has really helped me make my decision.
Yes, I think I am going to go for DevonThinkPro.

All the best to all of you,