Very often, one software application doesn’t cover all workflows needed to accomplish a task or complete a project. This is especially true in science where researchers collect, organize, and process huge amounts of information.

One application we regularly hear of is Eastgate’s Tinderbox. The researchers among our customers use DEVONthink for collection and organization, and then switch over to Tinderbox for creatively joining the pieces to form the groundwork for their research. For example Asaf Keller, one of our true power-users:

I’m a neuroscientist, and our laboratory is focused on understanding brain mechanisms involved in perception, and how these mechanisms are affected during chronic pain or drug addiction. I have been attempting to perfect a personal ‘knowledge base’ for over 30 years, and I found it in the marriage of Tinderbox and DEVONthink Pro.

If you want to give your productivity a boost as well and you don’t own either DEVONthink Pro Office, Tinderbox, or both then today is a good day for you: Eastgate and we offer our applications and the accompanying ebook for 15% less until the end of next week.

Check out our (Productivity)2 page!

16 Responses to “(Productivity)²”

  1. bart says:

    Wow, that’s a really expensive app. Let’s say that money is an issue–why would it be worth buying? (I’m a teacher and a masters student).


  2. @ bart: Have you checked Eastgate’s and our website?

  3. bart says:

    Yes, since posting the above comment. I’ve listened to an interview with Mark Berstein, and have downloaded the trial version. It has the potential to be very helpful. But as a teacher with a family paying my way through my degree, I would need to be convinced that it would improve my workflow to help me get through my dissertation instead of impeding it. Even then, I’d feel the burden of the purchase for a few months.

    I’ve made it all the way through to my dissertation without yet having a functional note taking workflow. I thought DT would help at the start, but it hasn’t really been for note taking for me. It’s great to search through all my articles and books in one go for keywords and for finding related material that way. So, it is useful. But just not for note taking. I’ve been using Marginnote for annotating PDF’s (and Skim before that, of course). That works great (notes to mind map functionality), but as far as my mind is concerned, any notes I write in it I forget about. I need to export them somewhere…. Mind mapping is more of how my mind works, but for essays, even, it’s just too much info spread around one surface–albeit a digital, searchable one. Bookends is used for citations, but notetaking within it just leaves the same list of articles without any attention to thought process. Clearly a linear word processor is not much help there, but it’s worth mentioning that Scrivener isn’t bad for taking notes if one goes the linear route. There’s tons of metadata that can be added. Even better, after the recent update, is Mellel with it’s newly improved outliner. I was a fan of Circus Ponies Notebook until they threw it in the trash. But again, linear.

    All this means that I still have no clear way of notetaking, and therefore reading since they’re so connected. So, your app has lots of potential here, in theory. The price tag coupled with the learning curve of the program, from what I’ve read, are holding me back. But I’m excited about it and plan to stretch the trial version to the bursting point. At that point I’ll either not want to live without it or will.

    Thanks for sharing here on the Blog and bringing attention to the program. It hasn’t come up for me before, surprisingly.

  4. bart says:

    On the topic of the website, could I suggest some explainer/tutorial videos? There’s some for sale but…


  5. @ bart: One can use DEVONthink for notetaking with its plain text, rich text, formatted notes, and Markdown documents. However, for a non-linear workflow some other approaches might come in useful too. I guess the best way to explore Tinderbox would be to download a trial copy.

    And sure, feel free to suggest. I would like to ask you to send them by email, though, as this is a comment thread for a specific post.

  6. Nick says:

    @bart – If you liked Circus Ponies Notebook, take a look at Curio by Zengobi. Very different interface but a lot of the same functionality, plus some that CPN didn’t have. It’s a great tool for note taking, organising and planning, and it has some nice integration with Devonthink. And an education discount.

  7. bart says:

    Will do. Although, I think the topic was relevant–what DT users can get out of TBX. Had more discussions like this existed I might have learned of TBX earlier on.

  8. @ bart: If the videos are relevant then please feel free to post links to them here.

  9. Daniel says:

    I would like to see a video, how tinderbox and devonthink works together.

    I do not want to double content, therefore I would like to know if it is posible to use the Sync Store function of my WebDAV of my devonthink database in order to work with tinderbox?

    This would garantie, that I do not have to manager double content, because DT and TBX use the same database. Or is there a other approache with the same functionallty?

  10. darwin says:

    Did you try “Curio”, to me this seems an app that could help you.

  11. bart says:

    I’ll download it tonight and give it a go. The romantic side of me wants to fall in love with Tinderbox. I love the philosophy behind it. But I also find that if apps are too open ended, they don’t do any one thing well–they just do a lot in a mediocre way. It seems that TB does lots of advanced things (great!), but not in an easy way–aka not well. I’m speaking out of my arse here. I’ll try them both to the best of my time constraints and see what happens. I appreciate the suggestions! I’m excited about doing research again to try it all out, and that’s already wonderful.

  12. bart says:

    How’s Curio with searching, say, keywords across desired notes/articles? DT of course excels at that, and so does TB, I understand.

  13. bart says:

    Curio is very cool and easy to use. I however retract my previous comment. Curio seems great for lots of things like organizing, storing, presenting, and brainstorming. The way the GTD aspect works is unique and nearly ideal. In comparison, Tinderbox is the one designed to do one thing and one thing well. That one thing–note manipulation–is what I am looking for. I think it’s a no brainer. I’ll be waiting for my next paycheck to make it happen.

  14. Nat says:

    @bart: The fact that you have used so much software (including DEVONthink) that is great for note taking and yet you report that you have “made it all the way through to [your] dissertation without yet having a functional note taking workflow” suggests to me that your primary obstacle may be your way of thinking rather than your software. Before you spend your next paycheck on Tinderbox, I hope you know that there are many other cheaper software options out there, but more importantly you may want to do some reading and consider how you could change the way you think about note taking. Here are a few reading suggestions:

    “How to program yourself for productivity and stop searching for the ideal software”: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/how-to-program-yourself-productivity/

    Posts on note taking from the same blog as the previous suggestion: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/tags/note-taking/

    Posts on note taking from philosophy professor Dan Sheffler: http://www.dansheffler.com/tags/Notetaking/

    There are many other resources out there.

  15. bart says:

    Thanks Nat.

    I think it’s more how I read as opposed to how I take notes. I know how I should read but it never happens that way for me. In the beginning I read too much of just a handful of books and towards the end read only by searching for keywords and concepts. I don’t really take notes but just highlight ideas because the highlights don’t mean enough to me yet and they seem to carry most of what I want to say. It’s very difficult to get meaning out of the highlights later on, and I end up paraphrasing more then using my own ideas as I would have if I was paraphrasing in the first place, consistently. I know I should be taking notes on my opinions of agreeing/disagreeing with the authors as well. That just hasn’t been that important up till now.

    Not great, but I’ve made it through my MA with decent grades because I can write well. A dissertation is a different beast altogether. There’s no coursebook specifically on the subject with reference to a dozen others.

    I went ahead and bought it because even if you’re right, it is motivating me to start, if nothing else. But I’m finding it completely awesome and not at all difficult. It works in the way my brain works (other than HTML). I like to have a good set of tools around that I can repurpose as needed. The money is a big deal, but it’s worth it if it helps me get my project done.

    I’ll check out your links straight away. Thanks again for them.

  16. bart says:

    Just to add (and I’m really sorry for not having better discipline in being succinct in forums), I wasn’t actively looking for another app. This post (from OP) came around and got me thinking that it could be perfect.

    However, it’s true that I’m a software junkie and for note taking alone, have invested heavily:

    I started with Skim, which maybe I should have stayed with in retrospect.

    Scrivener, which is fantastic for writing, I bought because I thought I could easily take notes with it along side the writing. I’ve since bought Mellel as well because of course we need to export somewhere. The new version of Mellel I find better than Scrivener for academic work because the outliner does most of what Scrivener can do for me without the need for hours of reformatting at the end. I was trying to stuff every PDF I was reading into Scrivener and Literature and Latte suggested DevonThink for me themselves.

    Devonthink was and is fantastic, but I found that the best part of it was the search capabilities that were too over the top for what I needed at the time. It’s ended up being a container more than anything for me. I use it more to archive my student’s work, scans of tests, etc.

    Bookends was coupled with Mellel, which is a fantastic match, but I had hoped that storing and note taking would be better. I have yet to understand what people do with more advanced features of reference software. I should have stayed with Zotero as it’s free and beyond capable. Still, it’s good software.

    Then I tried iMindMap, not once but twice. I love mindmaps. But brainstorming academic work with a mindmap that only allows for a single central idea wasn’t working. Then the newest version came out and low and behold, more than one central idea and my favourite, a quick keyboard based tool for inputting ideas. I use this often, but not really for academic work cause you need to already realize how ideas go together.

    I tried Highlights and got a refund for it cause it was so buggy (Apple store) and found MarginNote. MarginNote is a dream for how I take notes. But I’ve established that I don’t like how I take notes. My idea is to use MarginNote consistently during heavy reading phases and export everything to Tinderbox. Skim would have worked just as well with Tinderbox for this. I’ll store PDF’s/tapescripts/etc. in DT to make use of the search capabilities and make further notes about what I find into TBX.

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