Within the past few months, a forum participant who goes by the handle @PixelTracker posted some useful DEVONthink scripts in the Automation section of our forums. A more recent set of scripts appeared on the forums and his blog, prompting us to ask, “Who is this person writing these scripts?” So we invited him to share some thoughts with us and all of you.
Fabrizio , tell us a little about yourself and what you do for work.
My name is Fabrizio Musacchio and I live in Cologne, Germany. Having a PhD in geophysics, I’m currently doing my PostDoc at an institute for neuroscience.
How long have you been using DEVONthink and how are you using it?
I’m using DEVONthink since 2019. While research is part of my daily life, both at work and private, it is necessary for me to have a reliable tool for my knowledge management. But just having a technically perfect tool is not enough: It must also be a tool that I can trust and that I love to work with. DEVONthink is such a tool. I do not only love its privacy measures like the possibility of having locally stored databases and the bonjour service to sync my database across my devices only via networks I trust. Or the database encryption option. Or the fact that it is a stand-alone app that requires no online account. Or how well it works with the macOS Time Machine (which has rescued my work several times so far). I also love how actively both the desktop and the mobile have been developed in the last couple of years. Especially DEVONthink To Go made a huge jump and it’s not only fun using it on my mobile, I can actually do real work on it like writing abstracts, organizing travels, making literature notes, … And the motivation to constantly improve the app has not decreased until today — this is at least what I experience.
Having this powerful tool at hand, I use DEVONthink for my personal knowledge management in general like organizing my research and private literature, writing literature notes, writing permanent notes for my Zettelkasten, and project management. But I also use it for storing important documents, writing down spontaneous ideas and collecting ideas for my research work, drafting new research work or new posts for my blog.
We have many Markdown devotees in our clientele, as I see you are. How do you use your Markdown documents?
Markdown has become the default document type for almost everything I note down in DEVONthink. Among many other reasons, I love its formatting stability across devices. It doesn’t matter whether I create, edit or read a document on my Mac or on my smartphone, the formatting and therefore the layout of the content will always remain the same. Furthermore, being a mark-up language, all formatting options are always available on each of my devices. For example, I can create a document including a table on my Mac, edit the table on the go on my smartphone, where maybe I add somer further math equations to the document or an image that I’ve just taken with my smartphone. Everything will be rendered the same way regardless which device I use. This actually liberates me from thinking about the formatting. I don’t have to worry about it anymore and can just focus on the actual content.
What prompted the scripts you’ve offered here?
I’m always open to share and discuss results. Perhaps there are other people who have the same necessities and problems as I have and they can use the scripts right away. Or the scripts give rise to new ideas and someone further develops them or creates even completely new scripts out of them. If this person then also shares her or his results, not only the entire community would benefit from it, it would again give rise to further new ideas. I believe, that sharing drives the constant improvement of everyone’s workflow.
Any tips for the would-be automators out there?
Like for any other programming task: Just do it, just start. The learning curve is usually faster than initially thought, especially when you take existing scripts that are somehow similar to the problem you’d like to solve, as examples (guess how I have started). You can learn a lot by analyzing how others have solved a problem. You will also learn a lot by trial and error. Try out this and that command, consult the AppleScript documentation website, Stack Overflow and of course the DEVONtechnologies community forum. Just backup your documents in advance and apply your tests to some test documents rather than to your most important notes.
Any parting thoughts?
Yes: Thanks to the developer team around DEVONthink, you’re doing an awesome job! And a huge thanks also to the community, that helped me out so many times in the last couple of years.
Thanks to Fabrizio for sharing his thoughts, experiences, and of course, his great scripts! Make sure to check out his blog and his GitHub repository.