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flanman

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Posts: 3
 #1 
Reading Houdah Blog mentions a link to download the DEVONthink Search Template. but this link is apparently broken. Do you have a working link for the Devonthink search template. Could not find Devonthink Pro search template within Devonthink web page.

Thank You

John Flanagan
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houdah

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 #2 
There must have been a temporary problem with the server. The link you posted works fine now. Can you try again?
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chazzo

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 #3 
Pierre, I was delighted to see your post about searching DEVONthink databases with HoudahSpot. It's working well for me, but I have a question. I hope it's OK to continue this thread, which has a nice generic title.

Your template worked fine, but at first I couldn't see any DEVONthink items when I used my standard HoudahSpot template instead. Then I realised that DEVONthink hits show up under ~/Library/Caches; I've traditionally excluded this folder from HoudahSpot searches to cut down the number of unwanted hits.

Now I notice that including ~/Library/Caches doesn't actually add any rubbish. Maybe something's changed? Or perhaps I just got the wrong end of the stick when I started to use HoudahSpot.

The only slight complaint I might have about showing DEVONthink hits as belonging to the Caches folder is that it isn't possible to see which DEVONthink database they belong to. But I assume there's some technical reason why you have to do it this way.

Keep up the great work

Charles

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houdah

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 #4 
Hi Charles,

HoudahSpot searches the Spotlight index for files.

"Shoebox" applications that store notes, photos, files, or other data in an opaque structure (e.g. a database) have to resort to a "trick" to make this content appear in the Spotlight index. Mind you, this is the Apple recommended way to set this up.

The trick: for each entry in your DEVONthink database, a .dtp2 file is created in ~/Library/Caches. This is picked up and indexed by Spotlight. When you open such a file from HoudahSpot or from Finder, DEVONthink knows which database entry you want to see.

This all works well, but does have its limitations:
  • These .dtp2 files are nothing but links to content in your DEVONthink database. When you copy these files to another machine, you will end up with a meaningless link. Similarly moving, renaming, or tagging these files makes little sense
  • When indexing .dtp2 files, Spotlight calls upon the Spotlight importer provided by DEVONthink to get text content and metadata for the note the file points to
  • All these proxy files have the same type (.dtp2). When you want to specify a type, you will need to search by "Document Type" as shown in the blog post. This information is provided to Spotlight by the DEVONthink importer. I.e. "Document Type" is available only for .dtp2 files
  • The developer of Spotlight importer decides what information to share with the Spotlight index. If you'd like to see the database name made available for searching, contact DEVON Technologies with a feature request
It often is a good idea to exclude ~/Library from your search results. There are however folders within ~/Library that are of interest. The most notable are ~/Library/Mail and ~/Library/Caches/Metadata.


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chazzo

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Posts: 17
 #5 
Pierre

Thank you for such a quick and comprehensive reply. I had kind of guessed about the reason, but you have made it all very clear.

It hadn't occurred to me that it would be good to search in DEVONthink by filetype, but of course it's a logical step since I have web bookmarks, PDFs, Markdown, RTFs and lord knows what else in there.

I'll raise this with DEVONthink's developer, who as you probably know is also very responsive. He might respond that DT has its own powerful search functions and was not really designed to be inspected from outside :-)

You wrote:

"It often is a good idea to exclude ~/Library from your search results. There are however folders within ~/Library that are of interest. The most notable are ~/Library/Mail and ~/Library/Caches/Metadata."

I often want to look for prefs files, and find that I have to specifically include ~/Library/Preferences. Is that as expected?
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chazzo

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Posts: 17
 #6 
Ah yes, p15 of (I Have Read) the Fine Manual. Sorry for asking. It's silly that Spotlight doesn't index Preferences, and very useful that HS is able to do this.
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jgjones28

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Posts: 4
 #7 
re: "I'll raise this with DEVONthink's developer, who as you probably know is also very responsive. He might respond that DT has its own powerful search functions and was not really designed to be inspected from outside :-)"

DEVONthink was designed so that it's databases can be searched by Spotlight, and apps that use Spotlight's indexes such as HoudahSpot. That's the reason that DEVONthink includes the option to create, on a database by database basis, a Spotlight index for the database documents.
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houdah

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 #8 
@chazzo: The Spotlight engine has the ability bring up results for files that are not indexed. Such files can only be found by their basic attributes (e.g. file name). Other metadata is not available for searching, since the files have not been processed for indexing. This half-feature of the Spotlight engine only kicks in when you point it at the folder where you expect to find the files. It does run off and check each and every file on the system. It is more like a bonus, not something to rely on.

@jgjones28: Indeed the folks at DEVON are very happy to make database documents available for searching by Spotlight and HoudahSpot. That's why they provide the files in ~/Library/Caches/Metadata and developed the Spotlight importer to process these. I am sure they will consider requests to enhance this functionality.
 

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chazzo

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Posts: 17
 #9 
@jgjones28: I was joking somewhat, but isn't it a fair point that DEVONthink's search logic is supposed to be more powerful than anything Spotlight can provide? Whatever, I'm not comparing or criticising anyone. DT and HS are both fantastic apps that I would hate to be without, and the ability to look into DT databases from outside – however basic – is very welcome.

@houdah: Thank you for another excellent insight into the finer points of Spotlight. I hope Apple doesn't pull this "half-feature" for whatever inscrutable reason.
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jgjones28

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Posts: 4
 #10 
re: "I was joking somewhat, but isn't it a fair point that DEVONthink's search logic is supposed to be more powerful than anything Spotlight can provide?"

Actually I find DEVONthink's search more limiting than what is available in Spotlight (e.g.DEVONthink can only search for alphanumeric characters), especially when searching with HoudahSpot. DEVONthink's AI makes for some nice options to suggest related document connections in searches that is not possible with Spotlight, but if one knows exactly what they are searching for, Spotlight does a great job.

If you are going to use DEVONthink's search, then you are only going to find results in the databases that are currently open in DEVONthink. My understanding of why DEVON added the option some years back to create a Spotlight-searchable index of databases is so that Spotlight searches would find results in open as well as closed databases plus all the local documents that are not in any DEVONthink databases. In practice, the two options are are complementary.

Here's a simple example of how I might use both of those tools. If I presented at the XYZ conference in 2017, I might use Spotlight today to search for my hotel information that may be in an email in Mail.app or it may be saved in a PDF in a DEVONthink database. Either way, Spotlight will find what I'm looking for. However, if I am preparing for a similar presentation this year I likely will want to use DEVONthink's search to find all XYZ documents plus other documents that the AI has determined may be related to those documents.
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chazzo

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Posts: 17
 #11 
I agree absolutely that a big advantage of Spotlight is that you may not know whether the document you're looking for is in DEVONthink, and even if so, which database. And I don't use the "related documents" function often, though perhaps I should.
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houdah

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 #12 
@chazzo: DEVONthink publishes an attribute named "Database" to the Spotlight index. You can see this in HoudahSpot's Info panel. You can also add this as column or as search criterion.
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Houdah Software s. à r. l.
https://www.houdah.com

HoudahGeo: One-stop photo geocoding
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Tembo: Easy and effective file search
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chazzo

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Posts: 17
 #13 
Now that's cool. Thank you Pierre.
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