Tinderbox Forum

Tinderbox and DEVONthink Pro

Do you use Tinderbox and DEVONthink?

We’re working on some interesting ways to make these programs cooperate even more smoothly, and we’re eager to talk to Tinderboxers who use DEVONthink. If that’s you, let’s talk here – or send email to bernstein@eastgate.com

  1. Bi-directional sync (RTF and plain text files – including markdown). Text changed in one app is reflect in the other.

  2. Import individual DEVONthink item label colors as a “color” attribute that could be used in rules or agents or stamps.

  3. Some way for Tinderbox to grab data (documents) from DEVONthink sync stores**. Similar to what happens with Simplenote sync – let’s say that users would tag documents in a database. A setup panel in Tinderbox Document Settings could capture the sync store’s address and password, the name of a database in that sync store, and the tag(s) to grab. Those documents would then be brought from that database’s sync store into a “DEVONthink Sync” container - again, similar to what happens with Simplenote. If a Tinderbox note had one of the configured $Tag[s] then it would be sent up to that database’s Inbox group in the sync store.

  • In addition to assisting desktop users, this method in (2) would open the way for DEVONthink to Go to be a capture mechanism for Tinderbox on iOS
  • It is flexible so that multiple Tinderbox documents could access the sync store, or multiple Tinderbox documents could access different documents in the DEVONthink database, depending on the tags configured for that document.
  • And maybe other possibilities, such as Tinderbox automatically building a map of the content of a particular tag group in a DEVONthink database.

(** check “Help” in DEVONthink for an explanation of how to use DEVONthink sync)


Great thread! Thank you, @eastgate, and thank you, @PaulWalters, for your substantial suggestions, which I do second entirely.

Another possibility is access to the DEVONthink Server that is available only in DEVONthink Pro Office and allows browser and other apps to search databases and view a list of hits scored by closeness of match to the search criteria. Curio uses this in Curio’s Standard and Pro editions. In that case. when the DEVONthink Server is running, Curio’s “Sleuth” feature will search databases that have been authorized for access in the Server. Dragging an item from the Sleuth results to a Curio idea space results in a link / bookmark for that DEVONthink item. In Tinderbox, because of the Tinderbox/DEVONthink sync, this could be made better by Tinderbox actually syncing with the item.

(I have no clue how to make this work.)

1 Like

This is where I would like to see integration: a way of getting notes into TBX by way of DTTG. That would open up to refining and developing maps in TBX on the desktop.


I also would like to see Simplenote sync-style connections with DevonThink, especially DevonThink To Go. I am feeling pain from not having Tinderbox on an iPad and I think that DTTG looks like my best way to ease that pain.


I’ll make a previous suggestion public for comments. I’m having a good experience getting the “Spotlight comments” field from DTP notes and attributing them as a $Caption in TBX. It can be done with an Agent, but I think it could be a native feature.

This approach works great for keeping one kind of my notes which have textual quotes as their contents, the reference (author, work, location) in the title and a brief description about the passage as a comment. This is how I handle quotes from primary bibliography, together with philological notes.

Using those descriptions as captions also interoperate quite well with DTTG (where you can see the comments in a shade of gray below titles).

1 Like

About your suggestion #2: if we are to have a “DTP” set of attributes, I think this one should be named $Label (containing the index of a label, 0-7), to keep DTP terminology. Other useful DTP record information – thinking about rules and agents – are possibly uuid, name of database and location.

1 Like

A bidirection syncing of the notes would be a heavenly progress for me.


Assuming this thread is for the TBX side only (i.e. no changes to DTP metadata…)

User-defined mapping of TBX attributes to DTP tags.

If I take notes in TBX, then of course I keep data in discrete attributes ($Source, $Author, $BoolWhatever, $StrThingy and so on). When the time comes to export these notes to DTP, then I either lose this extra data, or I have to pre-process the notes to add the contents of the attributes to $Tags, so that they’re captured in DTPO. The TBX notes then contain redundant data.

It would be a nice feature if I could simply identify which attributes would be added to DTPO’s tags – automating the process I go through now.

Ideally the new tag would have a marker to to indicate the host attribute. e.g. $Source=“Bernstein2011” would become the DTPO tag Source==Bernstein2011 [1] (thus facilitating DTP’s search and smart groups facilities).

For especially pleasing results it would be very nice if the return journey could disassemble the tag, so DTPO records with tags which begin with existing attributes could automatically (or be selected to) populate those attributes. (NextAction==Y --> $NextAction=true).

Of course, if you have enough influence to prod DevonTHINK in the direction of expanded user-defined metadata so these workarounds weren’t necessary, that would be even better :grinning:.

Single click access to TBX notes from DTPO

I have no idea whether this is feasible or not so it’s probably a stupid idea but…

DTP’s excellence is in its AI and search, so there’s a great incentive to keep (or index) TBX files in DTPO. At the moment, AIUI it’s only the raw XML which is indexed, so that though a search will return results within the file, it’s not in a particularly friendly format to read, or easy to get to the original notes.

What about an optional ‘live’ index view (or separate file) on a TBX file, which could be indexed in DTPO instead, giving a subset of the data (Name, Text, user-selected attributes as dictionary pairs in the DTPO note text?) and a live link to the original note in the TBX file?

Apart from that…

From the previous comments in this thread – bi-directional sync I think is the most important improvement, and label/UUID/database/location info synchronisation (as bronco says, only the label number is needed) would be very welcome.

I think it’s great Eastgate are seeking feedback on this – DTPO and Tinderbox are made for each other and it’s welcome you’re actively looking to enhance the relationship… Thanks!

[1] I’ve used == as a marker for the DTP Attribute/content tag purely as an example. Unfortunately one of DTP’s failings is the inability to search on punctuation, but we could still do 'Starts with…" searches to group all Source information.

1 Like


  1. I‘d love to see Devonthink doing the heavy lifting of all sorts of media-handling for tinderbox. That means one should be able to drop full blown images in tinderbox/squarespace which are then automatically converted to small size and the shown as thumbnail ins Tinderbox.
  2. There needs to be a clear distinction between the two types of Tags Devonthink can handle. A) Devonthink-exclusive-Tags created for instance automtically as soon as „include in tagging“ for folders is active. B) Finder Tags which Devonthink can handle. —> Here one needs to be able to chose.
  3. Specify Devonthink as place to save Export Operations to.
  4. Selecting two or more notes which one should be able to one-click-export to Devonthink as RTD or better: PlainText while obeying what I suggested in „3.“
  5. The only way I see to seriously render Simplenote as Tinderbox-Inbox redunddant is that Devonthink can deliver on what, for the moment, only Simplnote can do: Associating certain Tags with one particular Tinderbox-Doc. Hopefully that is easy. But as soon as we have this sort of „interface“ everything can grow from there …

Bi-directional sync would be a great start!


This is possible already, in numerous ways. By exporting to DEVONthink’s Inbox (if you install it in your Finder sidebar) or to a folder to which a import-to-DEVONthink folder action is attached so that the import goes to a specified DEVONthink group in your database(s). Or, export to Finder and index that folder in DEVONthink – this option is best when you expect to periodically update your export and want DEVONthink to reflect those updates. Or, finally, export to a folder and drag it to DEVONthink’s icon in the dock. In any of these cases, DEVONthink honors the import destination settings in its preferences.

The main thing I want is to be able to write notes in Tinderbox and have them appear in DEVONthink, imported and not indexed. This is important so that I can get the x-devonthink-item:// URL to a specific note, so I can use that URL anywhere and know that I’ll get the note (indexing files from Finder means they can disappear if the file is moved or changed).

I also want to be able to update a note in Tinderbox, and have the updates appear in DEVONthink.

Finally, if I link between notes in Tinderbox, I want to have that produce x-devonthink links in the corresponding DEVONthink notes. That way I can design my notes and links in Tinderbox, and have everything working in DEVONthink To Go.

Here’s the general workflow I want:

  • take notes on-the-fly with DEVONthink To Go (I can do this today)
  • sync to DEVONthink desktop, and drag the notes into Tinderbox (I can do this today)
  • edit / organize notes in Tinderbox, create links, all that good stuff (I can do this today…)
  • publish notes to DEVONthink, with links being converted to x-devonthink-item links (“possible” in a nasty way with file indexing and lots of scripting… I think. I still haven’t tackled it yet)
  • sync my notes to my phone, take them with me…

I LOVE Tinderbox’s HTML export… and basically I want to use it to generate a wiki that I store in DEVONthink, where all the links work in DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go.

I‘d love to see Devonthink doing the heavy lifting of all sorts of media-handling for tinderbox.

This is an interesting idea. DEVONthink can already do something like that inside DEVONthink where you use a x-devonthink-item URL as an image source. So in a markdown document, you can do:


And it will render that image (assuming the referenced document is actually an image).

If you can’t tell by now, I think x-devonthink-item links are amazing… regular path-based referencing is so primitive in comparison (though it has its uses from time to time).


I have been successful in creating a “watch container” that monitors a DevonThink group and creates a new TB note when that DT group has a new item added to it.

However, the $SourceCreated and $SourceModified attributes are left empty when the new notes are created by TB. I was under the impression that those two attributes correspond to DevonThink’s “created” and “modified” dates.

It would be very handy for my to have those dates automatically associated with the TB note when it’s created by the agent.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks everyone!

$SourceCreated and $SourceModified: stay tuned. (These are already populated when a note is imported, but not yet when it is watched.)

1 Like

My temporary fix:

I think for me the key attribute I would like to be pulled from DT to Tindebox is the kind attribute

As i am a newcomer to tinderbox I wasnt aware of this limitiation. If this is a limitation then For me if TBX and DT are syncing then attributes of the DT note should be provided, for example I would want the URL of a bookmark note in DT to be synced or the path attribute of a file (like pdf or TBX) to be synced. So I guess I have clarified my request, kind is not required, if the above is implelented :slightly_smiling_face:

While I second to head @PaulWalters’ call as far as direct-accessing documents in DT-Databases via direct-pathing, I think @sammas has a point here - since using the DT-URL brought over from DT to TBX always results in opening the respective document with DT-Editor instead of (let’s say: a PDF) in macOSX’s Preview.app.

Ideas, how to achieve that?