DEVONthink Pro Office is a full-scale information manager for the Mac. It enables you to manage digitized paper documents by ingesting them in a database, where you can later search them through using DEVONtechnologies’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. It lets you archive or backup your local email messages, and can act as a disc indexing manager, and a Personal Information Management system. It can even be used as an author’s tool.
About the only thing DEVONthink Pro Office cannot do is manage your physical world. In the virtual world, however, anything goes. You might consider DEVONthink Pro (Office) as a Yojimbo on steroids. Where Yojimbo remains a Personal Information Manager, DEVONthink Pro (Office) takes the management part a good deal further.
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Price (approx.): €115
The latest version of Pro Office version of this program — and the one I was given to review — will perform OCR on scans and other text-based documents (ABBYY FineReader), even when hooking up scanners that only OS X’s Image Capture will see (more on that later). It will index or copy OmniOutliner files, OPML files, integrate with EndNote X4, bookmark (!) Address Book vCards, etc.,etc. DEVONthink Pro (Office) supports custom icons, extension of functionality using AppleScript, drag-and-drop, Lion Full Screen mode, and a Sorter.
Testing DEVONthink Pro Office — on its own
That’s right: I first tested the features of DEVONthink Pro Office while running on its own. You can also run DEVONthink Pro as part of the DEVONtechnologies eco-sphere of applications, which multiplies each DEVONtechnologies app exponentially, turning your Mac into a real data/information/knowledge management powerhouse — and I’m not exaggerating!
I started by trying out the scanner with OCR feature, using an Epson Perfection V700 Photo scanner. DEVONthink Pro Office recognizes it as a scanner, via OS X’s Image Capture app. On my system, it recognized the scanner, but when I tried to actually scan (beyond prescan, which doesn’t result in a preview) it sort of threw the scanner out, so that even Image Capture didn’t see it anymore.
If you must ingest a paper document and your experience is the same as mine, you can always use the provided Folder Actions for automatically picking up documents from a folder and applying OCR on the files within. You can then scan using whatever app you want.
OCR is near-perfect. It’s the same OCR engine DEVONthink uses as Doxie’s. The Doxie scanner is not supported, by the way, but more “serious” document scanners are fully supported — the Fujitsu ScanSnap is a good example.
The second test was mail archival. This proved to be a brainless process. DEVONthink Pro (Office) tightly integrates with the major mail clients on Mac OS X, which means you can ingest all mail messages directly and quickly from Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and any Unix mailbox.
Nice about DEVONthink Pro’s mail import capabilities is that you can actually synchronize (manually or by scripting) your database with your mail client’s database. By checking the “Hide Imported” messages option, you will skip all messages that are already in the DEVON database.
There is also a difference between importing messages and archiving them. If you select the Archive option, your messages are moved and the originals are deleted from the mail client. Very useful feature to keep the mail client lean and mean.
Still, if you have an app like Mail Archiver X (reviewed here), DEVONthink Pro loses out on the technical data that’s in your email — raw headers, and that sort of stuff you’re shielded off from. However, if you want to cross-reference messages or see what you were emailing about most, DEVONthink Pro’s Concordance and “See Also” functionality is simply unparalleled.