Update: Indeed, this speculation proved to be correct. The launch of a completely overhauled DEVONthink 3 looks incredible. You can read the launch announcement on DEVONtechnologies’ blog.
One of my all-time favourite macOS applications is DEVONthink — a comprehensive, AI-powered database that can save and organize nearly anything. I use it as my primary digital “filing cabinet” because in addition to saving and organizing documents, it also displays files and permits annotation on a huge variety of file types (PDFs, Pages, Word, PowerPoint, Keynote, Excel, Numbers, Markdown, Websites, JPG, and PNG, just to name a few). Users also have the option of importing files into DEVONthink to manage or leaving them where they are and having DEVONthink index them in place. If you aren’t familiar with DEVONthink and consider yourself organized and efficient, it behooves you to check out the links in the “Resources and Related Reading” section at the end of this post.
While DEVONthink is an all-star, vital workhorse, it is looking a little long-in-the-tooth these days. It’s nothing too serious, but as macOS and iOS evolve, third-party software can look dated quite quickly. In this case, DEVONthink hasn’t had a substantial look-and-feel update since 2013 (I think — this info is hard to find) which is an eternity in app years. Not only that, but long ago we moved into the realm of web automation with services like Zapier or IFTTT, which are incompatible with DEVONthink. In fact, I can’t even forward an email to DEVONthink to archive, something Evernote has had for a decade.
I emailed the founder of DEVONthink early in 2017 to inquire about a potential release, and he was non-committal. I learned soon after that I wasn’t the only one asking questions: it’s been a regular topic on a number of forums and in social media channels, with even the smallest tidbit of information completely out of reach. DEVONthink is one of those apps that sits at the very core of many people’s workflows, so its continued existence is crucial for those who rely on it. The developers have kept any future plans under wraps, though, and the years have been passing by without a peep — not even a vague, ballpark timeline for an update. One wonders what the team has been up to in its Coeur d’Alene offices!
Now we might finally have a clue. The first sign of something cooking was an overhaul of DEVONtechnologies’ forums to Discourse, which happened in March. A couple of weeks later, and even more surprisingly, DT unveiled an entirely new website — complete with new logo. That was enough to kickstart the whispers of a new version.
Then on April 4, DEVONtechnologies posted this to its blog alongside a maintenance update:
While we’re still preparing some things behind the curtain we’ve released a maintenance update for DEVONthink today.
The “…things behind the curtain” phrase stood out, as did the list of enhancements in this otherwise small update: enhanced Markdown and MultiMarkdown support including CriticMarkup (which I didn’t know anything about until I read this), access to an account page from within DEVONthink (a precursor to a subscription cloud service?), and other improvements to mail archiving and bookmark handling.
Maybe I’m so desperate for a UI overhaul that I’m looking for clues and convincing myself I’m finding them — which wouldn’t be the first time! But I do believe it’s more than that; any one of these updates wouldn’t be enough to drive speculation alone, but when all three are considered in context it looks like something may finally be up. Fingers crossed.
Resources and Related Reading