Synchronize Devonthink and Scrivener

There is a small window of opportunity to make the two applications work together.The opportunity comes from the Sync feature of Scrivener.

Even if this feature oppens the oportunity, the fact that it has limited capability to sync files complicates the relationship bewteen the two applications.

The weakness of the Sync feature is; it doesn’t support multiple folders. This means that, your heirarchical organizations based of authors or topic you use inside Scrivener Binder ( Research or Draft folder) will not be available in the Sync folder. The sync folder will have only 2 folders; one for the Draft and another called Note for the rest of the files ( all the files inside the Research binder). All the items, in whatever heirarchy you put them insider the Research Binder will be put into a single flat folder. This makes things hard to identify which note belongs to which group (folder) of the Binder. In the current system of Sync, the feature is almost useless, specially if you have built complex system inside the Research Binder. Assume that you have collected your materials and grouped them under an author name inside Research Binder. Say, you have collected 50 notes, 5 PDFs and 10 webclipings under authorX. You also have 5 notes, 2 pdf and 5 clipings in AuthorY. Each of the authors have their own binder (folder) insider the Reacher binder. When you syn, all the notes, cliping and pds will mix insider a single folder called Note, insider finder. You can not distinguis which note belongs to which author then.
In ability to maintain the folder (binder) heirarchies is the main issue of the syn in Scrivener.


A simple strategy is to tag the files before you import them to Scrivener. Tag them in the Finder and import them to Scrivener. The Tag functions to map the folder structure of the files in Finder and Deveonthink.

Tag them by AuthorX–>import them to Scrivener into separate folders–> sync them–> index them in Devontink.



Reading inside Mendeley, better to avoid it

I have already started writing about the great research tool, Mendeley Desktop. I believe, mendeley is one of the mandatory tools every academician need to have. Many people are using it for many things. As to me, however, its main virtue is the ability to organize the actual PDF files in a brilliant manner. In this post, though, I am going to tell you why you need to avoid reading and annotating PDF files inside Mendeley itself.

If you are familiar with the fast and efficient PDF readers as Foxit and PDF-exchange, you will face too many constraints with Mendeley’s internal PDF reader, which I found to be unbearable. Of course, you can read, annotate and write notes inside mendeley. But, the main downside of Mendeley’s internal PDF reader is the fact that your annotations will be saved in separate folder. Mendeley has a system called database where it saves information about the PDF files. That database is in a different folder from the actual PDF files. Hence, if you open your Mendeley annotated PDF files in another PDF reader, you will not get the annotations. This is bad. I want my PDFs annotated wherever I open them, whenever I want.

Mendeley team has tried to alleviate the problem by adding a feature to export the annotations of the PDFs. But, I found this to be a laborious task. Should I open and export the annotations of each and every file every time I want to see my annotations in another software? no, I will not do it. So, if you are like me, the best approach is to manage your files inside Mendeley and read them using more potent PDf readers as Foxit. Your annotations and notes will be saved embedded inside the PDF files that you don’t have to worry opening them in another software.  You will enjoy your annotations to the  end of time (unless you want to remove them of course) wherever you go, which ever software you use.  So, to  open the files organized inside Mendeley with external readers, you have to right clicking the file and choose “Open file externally”. Your default reader will be fired. Voila!



Update: 2017-07-19

I don’t know that people still check  out this post. I wrote this in 2012.  I want to update  my latest experiences. I have given up with mendeley. I am now encouraging people to move away from this applicattion because the reference data it downloads is complete junk. The user has no option to download data from Woldcat or some other better source (national or international libraries; publishers like Jstor etc). I am now using am amazing reference manager called Bookends. Since I moved to Bookends, I am able to maintain a bigger, and clearer reference data.

Zotero is also a great tool.  For the peopl who use Latex, Jabref recently has grown extremely powerful reference manager. It has gone a lot of transformations. I highly encourage you to check out Jabref. Other great tool in the Windows is an application called Qiqqa. Citavi is also ok.  You can check out this post on the comparison of the other reference mangers.