Zettelkasten Forum

DevonThink and The Archive

I posted this discussion over at the DevonThink forum but I thought some folks here might have something to say as well. Here's what I wrote:

I want to create a text file Zettelkasten as described by the folks at this site: https://zettelkasten.de/. I want to use DevonThink for its "see also" fuzzy searching, which I love, but I also want to use Markdown and links that aren't dependent on DevonThink (e.g., I want to be able to stop using DevonThink and have the notes still hyperlinked together, which I believe means I shouldn't use x-devonthink links and UUIDs). I find the approach taken by "The Archive" https://zettelkasten.de/the-archive/ to be compelling, in terms of portability and compatibility in the future, so I'm looking for ways to combine these tools.

I'm hoping that some people can check my assumptions here on the possibilities and constraints I'm seeing--maybe there's a path I hadn't considered. I'm guessing there are quite a few folks who have gone down this road before that might be able to help out, and some folks who are looking to do the same thing.

  1. Keep text files in Dropbox in a directory that is accessible by The Archive and 1Writer on iOS (and any other dropbox note taking app). Index this folder in DevonThink. On Mac, use the "see also" and other search tools to find connections. Wiki links that work in The Archive and 1Writer also work on DevonThink for Mac with the Wiki setting turned on. Don't use DevonThink on iOS. (Or sync the database to iOS via DevonThink sync store, but don't edit any files on iOS since these edits will disrupt the indexed files or maybe not even get synced back at all).
  2. Avoid The Archive and just use DevonThink with Markdown links. Make links via x-devonthink capability and accept that these links will only work in DevonThink. (Although maybe someone clever knows a way to convert all these UUID-based links into something more interoperable?). Use DevonThink on Mac and iOS to view and edit files.
  3. Avoid The Archive and just use DevonThink with RTF links (which has nicer linking affordances in the UI). If I want to pull out of DevonThink at some point, I can convert all the RTF files to HTML, then maybe convert those to Markdown? Has anyone tried this? (edit: I did try this with a few simple files and it seemed to work well, using DevonThinks "export as web site" command. Not sure what complications may arise with real data. Only complication is that all links point to .html files, but this could be fixed probably with a search/replace)

I'm thinking it's not possible to have the files stored in DevonThink, but then accessible and editable via The Archive? Because DevonThink stores them in a range of folders that wouldn't be meaningful in The Archive.

Also--it would be great to be able to bring Tinderbox into the mix sometimes, with its great ability to drag and drop notes from DevonThink and have them stay in sync. I'm guessing this only works with approaches 2 & 3 above, not with indexed files as in approach 1.

Am I making any incorrect assumptions here? Missing out on other options or approaches? Not considering additional gotchas?


  • I'm curious to hear how it goes if you integrate Tinderbox into this. I'm currently using TBX as my Zettelkasten and have plans to integrate Devonthink, too.

    Using Hazel, I've got DTPO collecting PDFs from Paperpile (my reference manager) and Goodnotes (where I read and annotate). Ideally, I'd like to be able to have my TBX zettels smart searchable alongside the articles I've read that informed them.

  • I have already used Tinderbox as a Zettelkasten previously. I thought it worked well, especially in terms of spatial orientation of notes to indicate loose topical similarity. However, I'm much more cross platform Mac/iOS these days and need an app that works on both platforms. I can imagine importing some notes from DT into Tinderbox for a particular project in order to play around with them spatially, but I don't want my whole repository in there.

    It's a tough problem! Even though most of these apps are great about import/export and don't hold your data hostage, it's still a trick to get them all to place nice together.

  • Oh, I'd be curious to see how you organized things in TBX when you had your zettelkasten there. These videos show how I'm doing it. The spatial orientation is most important to me now, but I can envision a time and place where the cross platform/portability would be more important.

    I just got these stamps/scripts working to pull my zettels into DT and am excited to see that it works very well!

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