Tuesday Tip: Access your data from your iPhone

DEVONthink on the iPhoneNow you got your brand new iPhone 3G and you want to access your database also on-the-go? Some may not have noticed but the DEVONthink Pro Office web server already comes with an iPhone-optimized AJAX application that lets you connect to your database, search for documents, and view them directly in Safari Mobile. You only need to keep DEVONthink Pro Office running, activate its web server, and, if you want to access it from the public Internet, set up port forwarding on your router. Our DEVONacademy online tutorial shows you how this works.

13 Responses to “Tuesday Tip: Access your data from your iPhone”

  1. Leslie says:

    Any chance 2.0 will support MobileMe and provide an easy sync option that way? Or a corresponding iPhone app?

  2. Eric says:

    @Leslie: I knew that this question would come *smile* We’re thinking about this, but certainly not for 2.0, more likely for 2.x. However, we have to check if MobileMe synchronization works for large databases as many customers have 100,000 or more documents in DEVONthink. We would go for a more selective approach then.

  3. Harry says:

    I use a laptop most of the time with think and I need access to the database on iPhone when the laptop is in the bag asleep and not serving the AJAX app. I need a way to publish the database (browsable, not just searchable) to .Mac or other web-server and sync automatically.

    Even better would be an iPhone App that gave me access to the database on the iPhone from version backed up to .Mac (mobile me) or other database. Applications like Omni Outliner and Evernote have done this, but I really like the features and depth of think Office over these applications. Any plans?

  4. Harry says:

    Just ready your response to Leslie. Mobile me has 20 GB of storage for basic customers. Just save the file to the storage of iDisk. Using Sync Services is not necessary, see Omni Outliner’s solution. Evernote uses their own service.

    This is totally possible with 2.0. If you plans don’t change I may be forced to live with the limited features of Evernote and omni outliner combo.

  5. Eric says:

    @Harry: Most users want a record-by-record synchronization between multiple Macs. And uploading a 10 GB database every time a document changes does not seem practical. In addition this would mean that a possible iPhone client would need to come with the full AI code for reading the database which does not seem advisable on a device with limited CPU and battery power. We’re working on a smarter solution here.

  6. Tim says:

    You have no idea how badly I would like to have NATIVE iPhone Devonthink app! This would be so incredible! The web apps were fine but it has been amazing seeing OmniFocus come to the iPhone and I think the missing piece in the puzzle is DevonThink and the iWork suite. So the sooner the better. Syncing with iDisk seems like a great solution that many developers are already tapping into. I know databases in Devonthink can get quite large. But I think since we do do multiple databases users could set up a new database or a slimmed down version so they don’t run out of space on their iPhone. But the sooner the better on this! :)

  7. Tedh357 says:

    A native iPhone app to interface with my database would be priceless!

  8. […] now. We won’t make a specialized iPhone variant though as this is no web app. We have an iPhone AJAX for DEVONthink Pro Office, […]

  9. Christophe says:

    Here a couple of remarks and suggestions.
    If I had to choose between a specific app well sized for iPhone or Touch and a full dedicated web app, I would prefer the second one which, in my opinion, would be a very useful extension of the desktop app. Two main reasons for that : 1° we are more and more nomad and we often work from public or private workstations where Devon tools are not installed 2° a comfortable and effective use of the advanced features of DevonThink Pro require a robust (CPU, memory and energy) equipment.
    As counterpart, dedicated and active Web database(s) should also be part of such a package where the web database(s) would be synced with the desktop ones. And rather than relying on the very limited (and buggy) MobileMe services, my preference (and I would pay for that) would be to have that data hosted on a secure and dedicated “Devon” server.
    This would be a great plus compared to the current Web soultion of DTPO which, though helpful, is limited to the “read only” mode and also requires having the personnal desktop running permanently.
    Think about that. (Devon desktop and web similar apps) + (user desktop and web synced data) means an emancipated digital and paperless life, wherever we are and whatever the machine or the OS are. Wow!
    In GTD words one would say “one day, may be”. I would say that it is worth thinking at this new way of mobile life.

  10. Eric says:

    We have many ideas on how to make DEVONthink databases more portable. The killer argument usually is that many people store a hell amount of data in their databases so that they easily grow up to a few Gigabytes. Sync’ing this with a web service is a challenge (bandwidth, performance, infrastructure). But, bet on it, we’re thinking also beyond the desktop horizon.

  11. Christophe says:

    Thank you Eric.
    That’s a good perspective and I (we) support this kind of thought process.
    Here we goooo….

  12. Dan says:

    I know if you took a survey of 1000 DT users, you’d get 1000 uses and answers to questions regarding the iPhone and DT. I think Eric is right: DT databases can get quite large and syncing them might be a pain, take a long time, be cumbersome, and so on. What I am curious about is what people need from DT when mobile. Do they need ALL their data? Do they need to do EVERYTHING they do with the desktop version on the iPhone? Chances are, if we’re honest, no we don’t need ALL the data and we don’t need to do EVERYTHING the desktop does. This is the trap that Microsoft fell into when it started working on its Pocket PC OS and mobile applications — it had to be full-fledged Word and Excel or nothing. Apple comes along with the iPhone and gives people a stripped down but smart approach to the OS, browsing, and applications, and we all know how well the iPhone is doing. In fact, if anything, Apple has built from the bottom up (applications and what the phone can do are increasing in complexity) rather than top down (Microsoft’s include everything strategy), which only frustrates users and hinders adoption.

    I’d love to see what Eric and DT comes up with. I’d love to have a smart integration between DT desktop and a mobile DT application for the iPhone, but it doesn’t have to do everything. Problem is, ask 1,000 people what they want/need and get 1,000 answers.

  13. Kris Geren says:

    I think with a DT iPhone app – I would have the same expectation as I do with iTunes – which is that I would not be able to sync my whole library, but would have to decide which files are the most important to carry around with me. I think I would be completely satisfied with a scenario where I could create an iPhone folder or group within a DB, and designate which files I would like synced with the iPhone. I mainly use DT as a DB for guitar. I store lessons purchase, scanned instructional material or archived video instruction in the DB and would really be happy to only have it sync the lessons or sheet music I’m working with at the moment.

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