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. Jim Mitchell says:

    They won’t be nearly as mad about this post as they would be if you released a product that wasn’t ready. Stay the course and make it shine.

  2. Christian Meermann says:

    Was DEVONthink To Go wirklich braucht ist die Möglichkeit, Inhalte von Mobile Safari aus hinzuzufügen. Keine Ahnung, wie und in das geht. Aber es wäre dringend nötig. Schon oft bin ich unterwegs beim Surfen auf interessante Web-Inhalte gestoßen, hatte aber keinen Weg, diese in DTTG hinzuzufügen.

  3. Neal Beets says:

    Thank you for the status update on DEVONthink To Go
    I use DEVONthink To Go daily, as well as DEVONthink Pro Office.
    These products are a tremendous value. I appreciate your vision and your attention to detail.
    Keep up the great work.

  4. michael says:

    Meine Meinung nach hat Christian völlig recht. Es ist überhaupt nötig Web-Inhalte in DTTG hinzuzufugen.

    Das gleiche Problem habe ich auch mit Sende getroffen.


  5. eboehnisch says:

    @ michael: Mit den Bookmarklets von DEVONthink ist das bereits möglich. Allgemein ist es sehr knifflig, da nahezu alles, was hierfür nötig und praktisch wäre, auf iOS nicht vorhanden ist. Es ist aber auf unserem Radar, den Workflow hier zu verbessern.

  6. Kai says:

    Ich sehe es wie Jim: Lieber ein gutes Produkt, das etwas länger dauert, als ein Beta-Test am Enduser! Macht weiter so!

  7. Christian says:

    @Eric: wait a second – did I get that right? There is a bookmark let that let’s me add web pages from Safari for iOS to DTTGO.

  8. Christian says:

    Upps… Den letzten Kommentar hätte ich eigentlich auch auf deutsch schreiben können…

  9. eboehnisch says:

    @ Christian: Better in English 🙂 Yes, many of the DEVONthink bookmarklets also work with DEVONthink To Go. Always did.

  10. Bernd says:

    Halelujah! Great news and I like the minimalistic look the screens show. We waited for ages, sounds like it’s worth to wait a few days more. 😉

  11. Acky says:

    Hang on a moment: DTTG 2 will be a completely new version and a free update? Why should I be mad? I’m happy 🙂

    I’m looking forward to fully include iOS in my DT workflow. I appreciate that you take your time to do it right. Just release it before iOS 8 😉

  12. […] eigenen Risiken, die man aus dem wohl schon mehrfach gehörten Whooosh vorbeifliegender Deadlines (siehe Eriks Bezug zu Douglas Adams unschwer ableiten kann. Aber besser etwas mehr Aufwand in neuen Code investieren, als versuchen, […]

  13. Juke says:

    I’m just testing DEVONthing Pro Office. And i’m blown away from this realy powerfull Tool. Now to know that you guys work on a better IOS version makes me sure to buy it.

    Great job ! But please, do a german manual.

  14. Daniel says:

    Will DTTG2 support “real” over the air sync, or will it stick to the “WIFI on demand” method? (I really hope that your efforts to make sync work for DTPO pay of for DTTG2 as well …)

  15. eboehnisch says:

    Version 2.0 will use the new sync already but could be tied to Wi-Fi (no need to create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network) with later 2.x versions syncing also via the cloud (not iCloud, though, as iCloud still doesn’t properly support large databases, only single files).

  16. Brian Parker says:

    I appreciate the update. I’ve been waiting a long time for a solid Devonthink on IOS and it has been frustrating because Devonthink Pro Office is at the centre of my working environment, filling several different roles, so taking some of that mobile with a solid sync solution would be really useful.

    I do however understand your situation, especially being leapfrogged by Apple in the earlier stages of IOS development which must have been both frustrating and unexpected.

    I am pleased to hear that you will offer DTTG 2 as a free upgrade, certain other software companies could something from this commitment to their customer base.

    Thanks for taking the time to inform your customers.

  17. diptup says:

    Please fix the search system so that we could search noncontiguous terms. Highlight feature would be great but not without a USABLE search system. Thanks, Im so very excited for version2!

  18. eboehnisch says:

    DEVONthink To Go 2 here in the labs already uses Boolean operators and parentheses.

  19. Iain Spence says:

    Looking forward to the day when I can use DT instead of Evernote. Adding files by iTunes is still behind the times though, so I’m hoping you’re secretly working on dropbox or iCloud sync. Good luck with it, you have the makings of a mass market killer app if you can sort the cloud sync.

  20. A Wong says:

    I would be even happier if your hired UI experience designer updates the Mac version too. It needs a fresh coat of paint to bring it up to date.

  21. eboehnisch says:

    @ Iain Spence: Adding files by iTunes manually is just the emergency route. We are working, of course, on a proper network (and cloud) sync. I won’t be iCloud, though, as iCloud doesn’t properly support databases. Many have given up already.

  22. eboehnisch says:

    @ A Wong: We do.

  23. Christian says:

    Will it be possible in DTTG 2 use have a single database file stored e.g. in a dropbox folder in Devon Think Pro Office and DTTG?
    I’d especially be interested in accessing and editing documents from my ‘desktop’ database on the go and propagate any changes I make on my iPad back to DTPO.

    This would allow for a workflow similar to what an exchange server offers for emails/contacts/calendars, i.e. that one would be working with a single server-side database without having to synchronize between client devices…

  24. eboehnisch says:

    Version 2.0 will very likely not support this but a version 2.x. We’re reworking our sync mechanism that already supports Dropbox to work within the limitations of iOS and will start with a local sync, then cloud syncs.

  25. Peter Bloemendaal says:

    Mad? No :-). Curious: hell yes! Hoping for a steady and well working fast cloud sync with DropBox and/or Google Drive. Keep up the good work! PB.

  26. Alex says:

    Of course we’d like DTTG2 sooner, but thanks so much for keeping us up to date. A lot of companies frustrate their users by not communicating anything! Looking forward to it.

  27. Okay, finally re-read this and took my time. If it’s a free upgrade, I’ll go buy DTG 1 right now to lend my support in advance. Vote with your wallet, I say!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the final version.
    ed.: Bought.

  28. Kerry Dawson says:

    This has been a very interesting read. It’s good that DTTG2 is in the pipe. DEVONthink is a good product. Once you break through the learning curve it’s excellent. However, it’s achilles heal is and remains the IOS product and that is DTTG1. It’s not a usable product in this mobile world we’re in. I love DEVONthink. I just can’t use it anymore because of DTTG1. And if DTTG2 is not cloud based from the get go and works better in the cloud than DEVONthink then it’s a non-starter until it does.

    I have tons of software which all syncs through the cloud and seamlessly no matter where I am. I don’t have to be at home on my local network to sync. I do with DTTG1. It’s unfortunate the challenges that were presented DEVONtech in the development of the IOS product. However, others have managed to deliver in a timely manner and survive quite well as a result.

    Here you have a powerful product like DEVONthink and it is hobbled dreadfully by DTTG1. Further, it’s sync architecture in DEVONthink although usable is very poor at best in presentation and operation. It certainly is better than when it was introduced but it has a ways to go and I see little effort in making that leap that’s left. It needs to be transparent, reliable and unobtrusive and it is none of those things at the moment.

    So we have a powerful product in DEVONthink that works well if you could continue to work as if the world that we operate in didn’t exist but it does. IOS is major and is only continuing to grow and with the release of IOS 7 the platform will take on a new shine and thus command.

    How long can we wait for DTTG2. I unfortunately have had to turn to an alternative product that is extremely powerful and slick in design and function. It’s IOS products are bar non exceptional and only improve dramatically in very quick order.

    An economist just published a book on the death of the competitive economy and the birth of the transitional economy. For a company to survive now they have to be able to function fast in this transitional economy. When an opportunity knocks, they need to be able to move in quick, seize the opportunity, exhaust it then transition rapidly to the next opportunity.

    Fascinating. DEVONthink is an excellent product that on it’s own competes extremely well. However, it is a slow moving product that does not transition well at all. The move to IOS not just as a consumption platform but as a production platform has been underway for quite some time now. IOS is without a doubt both a production and a consumption platform and it’s amazing how powerful it is. DTTG is a consumption only product. That’s what we have to work with. Today. You can’t do any real work on it without doing some acrobatics and you really have to know what you’re doing to do that.

    DTTG2 promises to be a production and consumption product and from the sounds of it a strong production product that will integrate nicely with DEVONthink. However, the old adage applies here very well. I’ll believe it when I see it. I really don’t care what I read that it can do and will do. I need it to do now if not yesterday just like my other products do and I can name a bunch of them. Yes, when I see it I’ll believe it.

    Further, I can’t work with DEVONthink any longer as long as it’s hobbled by it’s IOS counterpart which is DTTG. It’s that simple. DEVONtech is well aware of the importance of IOS just as every other company is. Yes, it’s important to create a good IOS product but they’ve had more than enough time to do that. Simply read the forums historically. Two and up to three years ago people were expressing great frustration with DTTG. Orphaned and ghost files. Guess what. Today, we still deal with orphaned and ghost files.

    I don’t believe DEVONtech should invest one Iota of energy in DTTG. It’s dead and was dead a long time ago. Anybody that buys it well…. No DEVONtech needs to diligently focus and apply as much energy as possible to DTTG2. The transitional economy which I definitely believe we do have dictates that if DEVON cannot transition rapidly enough the opportunity will not only be exhausted but lost. Very unfortunate.

    DEVONtech needs to listen to user base and those who are/were committed to the product. It’s fairly clear that they don’t. A nice blog post is nothing more than that; a nice blog post. But there’s another cute expression I can think of from a Wendy’s ad. “Where’s the beef”.

    Here we have a premium product with premium pricing. Do we get premium support. Not in my experience. I have support from many companies and generally sign up for the pro or premium product because I like good support. Good support listens. They not only help solve customer issues. They take customer feedback back to the company which should, if it’s good, help guide the company so that what has happened to DEVONtech doesn’t happen. That is, you don’t find yourself with the cart before the horse.

    The company is kind of listening now and asking for our patience. That they will deliver. Just with some time. I hope that’s the case. Even though I’ve moved on to another product I use DEVONthink daily. Just to keep my eye on the whole thing. I’d love to be able to move back to DEVONthink wholeheartedly but this company would have to do stuff I’m just not sure it’s prepared to do.

    They need to listen and listen hard and not tell us what we can do or not do in a defensive fashion. This approach helps no one. The company needs to look at it’s structure, processes and people. My view is that it’s all fairly flawed. If it weren’t we’d have DTTG2.

    Anyway, we wait. But I still have to do my work so I continue on with that but without DEVONthink. I just have it running in the background now just to see and hope that they pull it together. I wish them well. I wish I could be more optimistic but it’s hard when a company doesn’t get it. They’ve got good customers. Bright customers all saying what’s needed. Where we’re at should never be had the company been listening rather than arguing with us; the customer of a premium product as I understand it as It certainly isn’t cheap.

    So I call it a premium product and it should have premium products and support. At the end of the day, the company should be concerned that the user base is happy with things. I’ve never had one survey to ask how I find my experience with the company whereas with so many other companies I have these all the time and those companies that listen find themselves where they need to be. It isn’t difficult. You just look and listen and that will guide you to the right spot.

  29. Ryan says:

    My first gen iPad is prohibited from upgrading beyond iOS 5.1… any chance DTTG2 will be compatible?

  30. eboehnisch says:

    @ Ryan: Presumably not I am afraid. iOS 7 is just around the block and we are currently targeting the latest revision of iOS, especially due to the extreme UI changes that are about to come. Sorry.

  31. Kerry Dawson says:

    That seems to be more than reasonable and expected. It’s unfortunate but software advancements often press hardware expecially in the Mac world.

    One might call the UI changes to IOS 7 “extreme” but I call them delightful if not in fact incredible. Apple’s latest designs with their emphasis on deference, clarity, and depth is inspiring really. This page sort of says it all:

  32. Iain Spence says:

    So io7 is out next week? When can we expect DTG2 to be available? Nearly 3 months since this last update. I, as others, am keeping fingers crossed that it has cloud syncing….

    Keep up the good work!

  33. Tim says:

    can’t wait for the new devonthink for iPhone and iPad. I find that I read and task myself a whole lot more on iPhone/iPad these days than on desktop, so having the updated DTTGO would certainly improve my information hoarding (:

  34. Frustrated says:


    Today i realized that i have no real database that could sync my everyday needs via local wifi – no cloud service …

    DTTG 1 is … an unfinished thing – DTTG 2 will be available sometime …

    And what are my daily needs? to write stupid numbers in a stupid table … 1-10 different numbers each day …

    And what do i have – Software which i bought for about 120-140 EUR … and this simple thing does not work with IOS7 …

    So – should i change DTPO for something else?

  35. Kerry Dawson says:

    I’m quite a DEVONthink keener but DEVONthink at the desktop only. Unfortunately, due to the problem with the IOS product I had to move to an alternate product with excellent IOS support. Although it affected my workflow temporarily it didn’t last long.

    When DEVONthink To Go 2 comes out I’ll revisit DEVONthink. If I like what I see, I’m moving back from DEVONthink To Go 2. I paid for a year premium service with the alternate product but actually probably didn’t need to as the free service is plenty. However, you do get technical support. Although I’ve only used it once and as the product is a piece of cake to use it was superbe technical service.

    The year subscription was not much so I’m happy now. I just couldn’t battle any longer with DEVONthink To Go. It’s kind of you have to know when to cut your losses. The 140 Eur you spent is no small sum but as my mother used to say “Chalk it up to Experience”.

    Frankly, you too might find when DEVONthink To Go 2 come out you’ll move back to DEVONthink. In my experience though a customer lost is usually gone for good. You do everything you can to ensure you don’t loose a customer. In my case, moving back to DEVONthink would not be problematic provided DEVONthink To Go 2 is good. There are things I much prefer about DEVONthink. However, putting that aside, I’m dealing with current reality and could no longer have my work impacted by DEVONthink To Go. And honestly I feel IOS 7 is brilliant. So….

  36. Ralph says:

    I am a happy user with Devoteam on desktop but I need a DTTG Version which is able to sync. Until today I had such a mess of sync errors, which let DTTG unusable for me. Because I will never sync to any cloud, i suggest to have a version with itunes sync asap and additional sync support later.

    Please keep the DTTG 2.0 simply and focused on mobile needs. Comfort can be added later.

    Kind Regards

  37. Kerry Dawson says:

    Just curious. Why won’t you sync to any cloud. The direction societally is headed that way. Technology has enabled that and the benefits are clear cut. The cloud is where it’s at so to speak. In ten years things will be quite dramatically different. And for the better. Steve Job’s vision is becoming and will become the reality of the day. I have no doubts about that. But I wonder why you’d never put anything in the cloud. Do you bank or have you ever banked. All is stored in mainframes which is nothing less than the cloud. I entered IT at the end of the mainframe days and we’re now going full circle back to the centralized approached except instead of dumb terminals we have incredibly smart terminals with powerful compute capable stuff at the frontend. The backend though is no slouch.

    Just curious.

  38. K Shroff says:

    DTTG 2 is long overdue.
    There is no possible reason other than poor upper level management that this product cannot sync databases with iOS.
    I feel like an idiot waiting for something to happen after this July post. Its been 3 months. WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING!!!
    Why would you frustrate your customers? I am no longer recommending DTPO to anyone.
    Sorry. Sometimes the sermon goes on for too long and people start leaving Church.

  39. eboehnisch says:

    We are communicating plans early but developing a complex app again from scratch simply takes time. An app like this cannot be done in a fee months I am afraid.

  40. Henning says:

    Guys, please hurry up with your work. And please ad a full table editing support, otherwise owning DT Pro isn’t of much use … the current mobile version is a shameful little brother to your otherwise great products (that always were behind the times, not having real cloud sync or anything – in 2013).

  41. Singer Smith says:

    I cannot believe the app is not ready.
    Just saying that you are working on an app for months, almost a year, is very suspect.
    Do you have just 1 person working part-time on it?
    DT Pro office is good but is really lacks without a decent app.

    Get the sync to work right!!!

    Then go back to working on a ‘completely new app’.

  42. eboehnisch says:

    @ Singer: DEVONtechnologies is not a 100 people company, and DEVONthink To Go is a complex app, not a one-trick pony. And as already said in our newsletter we have sent an update for DEVONthink To Go v1 to Apple for review that fixes a lot of sync problems, besides the sync problems that DEVONthink 2.7 fixes from the Mac side.

  43. Philip H says:

    Just a quick question and not holding you to the answer, do you think devonthink to go v2 will be released in 2014 or 2015??

    A quick not on syncing, I am useing devonthink office and have not had a syncing problem since the day v1 was released, so there are people out here that are fine with syncing. But I would love to do more editing on the go.

  44. eboehnisch says:

    DEVONthink To Go 2 is not planned for 2015 (!) and editing on-the-go is, of course, planned (to be more exact: already implemented for plain text, rich text, and markdown; PDFs can be annotated).

  45. Kerry Dawson says:

    I don’t understand the answer. DTTG2 is not planned for availability in 2014. DTTG2 will not be available in 2014.

  46. eboehnisch says:

    @ Kerry: Typo. I’ve edited my answer.

  47. Kerry Dawson says:

    Ah yes. The answer makes sense now. One needs to do a little reading between the lines but…..

  48. 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?

  49. Joel says:

    I am considering a different database program, as I am aggravated with DTTG, and need a mobile solution.
    Could you please give us a sense when the app will be available? For my work DTTG has become unusable, and this is making DevonThink Pro Office increasingly unusable. Would really appreciate a sense when things are going to be updated, before I jump ship now.

  50. eboehnisch says:

    @ Joel: I am sorry that we as a small company need some time to produce a complex application such as DEVONthink To Go 2. But please be assured we’re working full-time on it and will release it as soon as it stable and complete. Thank you for your understanding.