An update on DEVONthink To Go

In our user forum, via Twitter and by email quite a few of you are asking us about the future of DEVONthink To Go, the iOS companion to DEVONthink for Mac. I already mentioned that we’re working on a new release and so I want to give you an update on our progress.

We know that version 1.x of DEVONthink To Go has its flaws, especially in the synchronization code. While we have fixed quite a few of these issues, and still do, we have concentrated mostly on developing version 2.0 from scratch. And I mean it: we have not reused a single line of code so far.

Why this drastic step?, you might ask. When we developed version 1.0 we started on iPhone OS 2.0 with no database support at all. In just one and a half years until the final release we rewrote it for iOS 3.0, then the iPad form factor, and finally iOS 4.0. Whenever we completed something Apple overtook us with another operating system release with new opportunities but also once or twice the necessity to fundamentally change the inner workings. The tools for and the programming interfaces in iOS have extended rapidly since then so there was no point in extending our old app architecture when much more modern ways to write an iOS app became available.

Organize, trash, etc.

So where are we today with DEVONthink To Go 2? It’s already running here on our iPads and iPhones, takes documents through iTunes, allows you to organize them in any way you like (move, replicate, duplicate, trash, rename, …), search them with full Boolean operator support, and view and edit a number of document types: plain text, formatted notes, PDFs, images, audio and video files, bookmarks, and HTML files. Due to the lack of rich text and proper PDF support in iOS we embedded a wholly new rich text engine and a full-blown PDF library.

Editing menu

Finally, we have, of course, already adapted large parts of the user interface to iOS 7; the rest is up to the user interface and user experience designer we have hired to make DEVONthink To Go 2 look great. But there’s still a lot of work to do until the final release. We’re adding the sync now, tags, an assistant for creating documents, and integration with other apps.

Now to the most pressing question: When will version 2.0 be released? Not yet I am afraid. Rewriting a complex app like DEVONthink To Go 2 takes a while — and much longer than we have hoped. Unlike Douglas Adams we don’t like the whooshing sound deadlines make as they fly by but we have heard it more than once. So instead of making a guess that could be wildly off I’ll wait until we’re absolutely sure that it’s ready for prime-time before making that announcement. What I can say already is that the update to version 2.0 will be free of charge for everyone already using DEVONthink To Go version 1. I know that some of you will be mad about this post but I hope that most of you will understand the challenges we’re facing in building a really good iOS companion for an app as mighty as DEVONthink for Mac.

90 Responses to “An update on DEVONthink To Go”

  1. Philip H says:

    Hi Eboehnisch
    You said DEVONthink To Go 2 is NOT planned for 2015 (!)
    Just to clarify, DEVONthink To Go 2 won’t be released until 2016 at the earliest?

  2. global4U2010.com says:

    Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something completely
    unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I
    had to ask!

  3. eboehnisch says:

    @ global4U2010.com: We’re using WordPress with a custom theme, adapted to our website. An elegant and simple solution for small sites or blogs.

  4. Bbr says:

    The search option is next to impossible. Nothing appears.
    It is impossible as we’ll to search for words inside the PDF.

  5. eboehnisch says:

    Searching should work as expected at least for all document synchronized from the Mac (as they bring indexed text with them). DEVONthink To Go v2 will permit to search also inside of PDFs (which needs additional software as iOS doesn’t come with that ability, unlike OS X).

  6. JS says:

    When is DEVONthink To Go 2 planned for release? Thanks

  7. eboehnisch says:

    @ JS: As soon as we’re confident that we don’t publish a deadline that we might miss, we’ll publish it here.

  8. michael ward says:

    Really? 1-2 years in the planning? I’ve been waiting patiently but it looks like it’ll have to be foxtrot and evernote for me.
    An ESTIMATED date would be at least something to allow us to decide how much longer to put off making a decision…

  9. eboehnisch says:

    Not in the planning. In the making. Software development for such a product takes more time than the non-developer might assume. We will let you know here as soon as we have a more concrete release date. And thanks for being so patient.

  10. Philip H says:

    I’m in two camps, I can see both the developers and our point of view. It is getting a bit long in the tooth now, as apple release new api each year I can’t see a new version ever catching up.
    That said I will be staying with Devon think as it’s the package that works the way I do.

  11. eboehnisch says:

    @Philip H: That’s the conundrum of our times: Apple is moving so fast that the small indie developers can barely keep pace.

  12. Ted says:

    I keep waiting for a special on ToGo 1 to give me an incentive to wait for ToGo 2!

  13. JS says:

    At some point you have to decide is this a via business entity and now it’s looking like not. With such slow development times and lack of updates (no respect for existing customers) I can’t imagine DevonThink being around much longer. Yes, things move fast – either commit to it or get out of the way because you are surely being left behind by your former customers and by other software developers. We a team of 1-2 people can put out great apps like Wunderlist, ToDo, etc but nothing comes from this company – speaks volumes about future prospects.

  14. eboehnisch says:

    We are sorry that you are not satisfied with our development cycles. We are indeed slower than e.g. Wunderlist with the difference being that we’re an independent software company without any outside investment. The Wunderlist development teams is by no means two people but many times that large.

  15. John Michael says:

    First: DevonThink is an amazing application, and simply cannot be equaled…but come on. PLEASE update to include cloud support AND easy sync (such as Evernote has in spades). To get things into DT if you aren’t at the computer is just stupid. Having to remember and sync requires planning…invariably, you don’t have the file you need. Please – don’t leave your faithful users out in the cold!

  16. eboehnisch says:

    @ John Michael: We are very well aware of this and are working *really* hard to ease your pains.

  17. Nick says:

    I’ve been a devonthink customer for six years. I need cloud syncing capability with my iPhone/iPad, and I need it today, not two years from now. All of the development cycle stuff aside, is this going to be released within the next month? If not, I’ll be forced to go with EverNote, which I think is a product that has a different focus than DevonThink Pro Office. I want to use your software, but I can’t wait for two years for cloud sync capability. Dropbox was a step in the right direction, but what’s it going to take to get Devonthink To Go to be able to sync via the cloud?

  18. eboehnisch says:

    @ Nick: We’re still working on it, sorry.

  19. Vicenç Ferrer says:

    I bought DevonThink personal and DevonThink to go a few days ago. I think it’s a great program, I am still learning to handle it but it is really good. Until the last moment I hesitated between DevonThink and Paperless and, although this is now half price, after trying them both I think I made a good choice. I never knew there were so many problems in the version for iPad. All documents entered are deleted for no aparent reason in DevonThink to go, is my fault or problem is the app?

  20. eboehnisch says:

    @Vincenç Ferrer: Have you opened a support ticket? Of course your documents should not be deleted.

  21. Vicenç Ferrer says:

    I erased documents for synchronization problems. It seems that the time is not reoccur again. I not open support ticket.
    Today I updated YOSEMITE 10.10.2 and finished the upgrade, I have page DEVONTHINK detail and came to watch “install” do not know why, since the app was installed. I’ve done has downloaded and click a second time to scare logical, since I have many cocuments.
    All this makes me lose confidence in this application (so well me) say I have no reason to be worried about, please.
    (I think this translation is not very good, I hope you understand the comment).
    Thanks.o

  22. eboehnisch says:

    @ Vincenç Ferrer: I am sorry but I don’t get exactly what is happening on your device. Could you please open a support ticket so that we can discuss further? Blog comments are a bit a weird place for in-depth customer service.

  23. Vicenç Ferrer says:

    In the Applications folder in the Finder and in the app DaisyDisk does not appear DevonThink, and that I have the operation, however, it appears that EasyFind and DevonAgent.
    That is, it is as if there were DevonThink!

  24. eboehnisch says:

    @ Vincenç Ferrer: Could you please open a support ticket as blog comments are a weird place for customer support. I need to forward you to a support rep who can help you. Thanks.

  25. Daniel Genesee says:

    First, I want to extend my great appreciation for the robust desktop DTGP experience that has really been a boon for my personal productivity over the last several years. Devonthink has been a constant companion on my mac and was formerly one of the reasons I felt I would have a difficult time switching away from the Mac platform, if that ever became necessary.

    I understand that the team in its current incarnation, simply doesn’t have the manpower to develop a mobile application, and that’s a shame. Devonthink is really unique as a relational database, and some of the key features (amazing AI algorithms for identifying relationships between documents, etc) are unmatched by anyone else.

    While, I have made due without a fully functioning mobile solution—DTTG 1.5+ is at best an outmoded and outclassed proof of concept—I can’t wait any longer for the mythical DTTG 2 to materialize, and I have had to jump ship. Although not the same, the more powerful tagging abilities of Yosemite’s finder have made this less painful than it might have been once upon a time.

    I wish the Devonthink team all the best, and hope that they can remain viable for the long term. If and when they release DTTG 2, I may revisit this decision.

  26. Simeon Trieu says:

    Wow, has it been 2 years? What’s the hold up, fellas?
    I bought DTTG 1.5+ in the interim, and it does a pretty good job of giving me documents on the go. I do have a few complaints, though:
    (1) Moving documents to “mobile sync” is a bit clunky, and Dropbox integration would definitely be appreciated. iCloud is not a good option, as it constantly pesters me about not being able to backup, since my DB is so large.
    (2) I have to manually sync documents everyday. Do you know how annoying that is? I really hope this feature is taken care of in the next version.
    (3) I can’t clip an article from a web browser to PDF format. Very frustrating, when I want the text from the article in my DB and searchable.

    Great product, and I hope your team really does finish v2. Best of luck.

  27. Jochen says:

    I’m also waiting for DTTG2. I use DTPO on iMac and MBP and this works for me. Since autumn 2014 I bought a new iPad.
    It’s my first mobile device.
    I’m often traveling. So I have a look for an app.
    First I found DTTG 1.
    I read DTTG1 have some “mistakes”, “bugs” and it’s not an practical app.
    I would test it but there is no trial available. So I will not spend money for this app DTTG1.
    I have also a look to other apps and found an available app on my iPad 😉 that works for me.
    But this has not the assume possibility like DTTG2 I think.
    My wish for near future is.
    Publish a comparison list between DTTG1 and DTTG2.
    If DTTG2 is near by end of programming it would be not a problem to publish this table.
    A other user of DT apps wrote:

    Jochen

  28. Jason says:

    Any word, guys? It’s been almost two years since you published this article? You claim that Apple moves to fast – every time something is finished, they add a new API or a new feature. This was perhaps true in the early days of iOS; you gave as one example that iOS 2.0 (the first version which supported installing third-party apps) didn’t have support for database systems, and then later they added Core Data. Similarly there is the issue of rich text. In iOS 6 or 7 (I can’t remember which one) the SDK added a new set of rich text interfaces which made working with it much better. Whoops – months spent working on an ability to format text in a certain way, more or less wasted… or not?

    I get it. But guess what — you don’t need to integrate with every feature in iOS. Even when iOS 7 had a new look-and-feel, you didn’t have to match it right away. You **are** allowed to release an app which doesn’t do everything. DTPO is an extremely complex piece of software with hundreds of features. You should not feel the need to make the iOS version match it **exactly**. As long as it syncs with the desktop version – that is the most important feature. Everything else is icing on the cake.

  29. eboehnisch says:

    @ Jason: And we will. But a complete and robust sync is something we feel we should have. And that’s by now the one thing that we’re still working on.

  30. Jason says:

    OK. So can we even expect this in 2015? Or will we need to wait another 2 years?

  31. JS says:

    ENOUGH ALREADY – NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE WITH THIS APP MOVING IN THE DIRECTION CUSTOMERS WANT. HOW MANY TIMES CAN THE QUESTION BE ASKED WITH NO RESPONSE AT ALL OR NO POSITIVE RESPONSE FROM DEVELOPER. JUST EXCUSES AND VAGUE STATUS UPDATES.

    THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE : EVERNOTE

  32. John Michael Hardin says:

    “If it matters to you, you find ways…if it doesn’t, you find excuses”. You guys just. keep. finding. Excuses.

    Forget “robust” solutions, and just do SOMETHING to make everyone think you care. DT is amazing…BUT the cloud sync option is a joke that there isn’t one. If you have a version 1 of something, that is FINE. No one is expecting perfection.
    You all are being beaten by a FREEMIUM application – geez, I would be embarrassed.

    -JM

  33. eboehnisch says:

    @ John Michael Hardin: I wholly understand your frustration. We do have a “version 1” on the Mac already but unfortunately it’s not suitable for iOS due to the memory and performance constraints. And “version 2” that we’re working on 24/7 is not yet 100% ready for prime-time.

    You say it’s doesn’t have to be perfect. I strongly disagree. It has to transfer quite literally many tens of terabytes per day and not lose just one byte. And it has to be secure. Cloud servers are the no. 1 target for hackers and if you know that e.g. just the honeypots run by Deutsche Telekom attract up to a million attacks per day now I hope you agree that we don’t want to run something that is not at least half-way safe. We never played Russian Roulette with your data and we never will.

  34. Robee says:

    And so time flows by…

    It is hard to criticise – Doo and NoteSuite came and went in blink of an eye. Evernote has problems of its own and is going forward in a very clumsy manner.

    DEVONthink and its crew have obviously settled down – you find many pieces of this kind of software – fitting for particular group of users, stimulating their workflow, but with limited potential for growth and vague support of newer platforms. Matured business that is and is definitely better than quick crash or constant restructuring. So I, not can, but must understand.

    Nevertheless, there is this bite of what could have been. Like starting with this piece of software. If Devon Tech stepped up publicly and said something like “almost 3 years of waiting for iOS app are inexcusable, anyway you slice it, we admit that” – that would be refreshing. Big public companies should be masters of hiding their injuries and admitting nothing, sometimes even with corpse at their courtyard. You just expect more from small likeable group of developers. That is why you take the risk of investing hundreds of hours to polish your workflow and pouring information into their product, which there is not good guarantee will not be abandoned in a year or two. (yes, there is never THE guarantee, but let’s face it, nobody would find it reasonable to worry about OneNote’s demise anytime soon, to illustrate example).

    I could still envision it, complex qualitative research and personal information database tool. We are not that far, albeit nobody seems to be on definite road there yet. Polished (and yes, visually pleasing) platform, that handles documents, stored web site articles, images, notes (either stickies, longer texts, lists or complicated freeform dashboards) – completely searchable, tag-able, exportable. Embracing at least one whole ecosystem including web option. Using power of cloud where it should (imho) be used – making links and understand relationships, providing suggestions and network, keeping backup of everything, but leaving local apps to leverage strength of each platform and limit data transfers only to amount necessary.

    DEVONthink, despite being developed by small studio, had galloped this track very fast some years ago. And than it has lost its momentum. Big players are now embracing what Devon Tech began decade ago – use AI, to just throw bunch of stuff and let it bring it to order. To help you, to guide you, to empower your research, whether you are just trying to decide which coat to buy or solving mysteries of universe. And where is our favourite piece of software? At the same place, more or less, it was five years ago.

    DEVONthink is nowhere near reaching this summit. Again, understandable, logical, maybe in the end, necessary. I wish Erik and his team all the best. But personally, this understanding made me abandon DEVONthink few years ago. Utilising multiple not-so-perfect tools and apps to achieve somewhat cumbersome workflow setup, I am unfortunately still much closer to vision described above, than staying with DevonThink. Even if this vision is completed by some of these players (and may never will, trying to be “only tool you need” has never been particularly successful strategy in software business), I think it would be lacking. It would be good-enough, but simply we would know it could have been somewhat better. Less bugs, more elegant tools, maybe even more geeky. Something like Devon Tech could have made. But they will not probably even attempt to carry something like that out. They are happy where they are.

    If anyone made it this far, he would have my admiration

  35. Khongaeng says:

    Robee, I made it to the end of your essay on the fall of devontechnologies, and couldn’t agree more. What started as promising with new ideas and features each release a few years back has turned into only a fix it so it will run on the latest OS. I understand that it is difficult to keep up, on now 2 platforms, but integration with iOS has been my latest disappointment with DevonTHINK. I am sadly to the point now where I’m looking at other options that offer better syncing capabilities, even at the compromise of workflow optimization capability.

  36. eboehnisch says:

    @Khongaeng: It’s hard to say anything right now that would be helpful. Be assured we haven’t abandoned DEVONthink To Go but are rewriting the whole app from scratch. This takes a while. We’re almost done but need some more time. Version 1.x is only maintained for OS compatibility, you’re right, because we’re fully concentrating on v2.0. We will post the whole story as soon as we have made a few more steps.

  37. Philip Holloway says:

    I’m still waiting for you to finish v2 as your Mac app is still the best out there and at least I can take my files with me in v1
    I just hope v2 will be released this year..

  38. eboehnisch says:

    @Philip Holloway: It certainly will.

  39. Philip Holloway says:

    That’s fantastic news as you’ve never committed to a release time up until now.. Now I know it’s this year I can wait until your happy and everyone else should be happy as well.

  40. Ted says:

    Don’t run out to buy the latest iPad just yet. There are 353 days, 10 hours and 36 minutes left in the year, Central Standard Time.

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