Today, I have talked to Ralph Graulich, a German researcher working on the history of thoroughbred horses. Before discovering DEVONthink, Ralph Graulich organized his work in thousands of papers, leaflets and folders. DEVONthink gave him a new impulse to continue his work with new energy.
What kind of project do you currently work on?
For several years now I do research on the history of thoroughbred horses, their breeding and their racing career, as well as the people and places behind the names. I started with literally hundreds of books, exchanged e-mails with people all over world and asked for more information from archives and libraries. Then, I arranged the information for a book on German thoroughbred bloodlines from the beginning of breeding in 1800 to nowadays. Their history is traceable for more than thirty generations!
How do you use DEVONthink for your project?
I use DEVONthink for the whole project, including tossing all valuable data into DEVONthink and intensively using its fuzzy search to match names spelt differently over time. I link together pieces of related information in rich text documents with hyperlinks and add interesting information from the Internet using the Services menu. Auction catalogues I store as PDFs. I also add e-mails and letters to my database, so I can easily refer to information checked long time ago and get in contact with that particular person again. I even store newspaper clippings, digital photos, notes and ideas in DEVONthink.
What amount of data do you organize using DEVONthink?
At the moment the database has a total size of 5 GB, made up of 523,917 unique words (37,982,603 in total), 5,937 images, 1,301 plain text notes and 14,644 rich text notes. I use a PowerMac G4/1200 with 1.5 GB of RAM, which gives me a good overall performance. I tend to put each information in a rich text file, so I can easily highlight parts of it.
How did you organize your work before you discovered DEVONthink?
I stored most information as prints and PDFs in hundreds of folders, spending a lot of time trying to retrieve information, correct mistakes or add additional information. Digital data was stored in about 110,000 separate text files, growing by a rate of sometimes more than a hundred files per day. Lots of those old documents still need to be converted and marked up.
What are the DEVONthink features you like the most?
First of all I like the fuzzy search – sometimes it is really amazing how DEVONthink begins to “think” and read your mind, bringing up exactly the documents you’re looking for. Other important features are the integration with the Services menu and labels. Yes, I was one of the few (?) people who really missed labels in the early versions of Mac OS X.
What don’t you like?
I don’t like that DEVONthink wasn’t available five years earlier and that it took me so long to discover it as my most valuable tool on my Mac.
And finally: Which feature do you miss the most?
I would like to share my database over a local network so that I can work with my database on more than one computer at a time. Another feature I miss is the possibility to highlight words found in PDF files. Hopefully this will be possible with Mac OS X “Tiger”.
Ralph, thank you for your time.
Contact Ralph Graulich to learn more.