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An Update on DEVONthink To Go

July 1, 2013 —

I n 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.

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.

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.