Automation - Archiving Pocket Articles to DevonThink

Those good folks that develop the Pocket Read-it-later service have today launched a Premium service, whereby subscribers are able to permanently archive the content on a web link (even if the link is subsequently removed at a later point in time) and to allow for full searching of archived content. Currently, searching is restricted to the URL and Title of the article, so this is a definite benefit, and one that almost had me reaching for the Credit Card (OK, 1Password) and signing up. 

Then the sensible side of me came to the fore, which it has been known to do on occasion, and started to assess what current tools I have that may be able to do the same job. I thought of Evernote in the first instance. I'm a Premium Subscriber and I use the heck out of Evernote, that's for sure. It forms a core part of my automation workflows for note taking, but I don't use it for the permanent archive of documents. This role belongs to DEVONthink. 

Now I have the Pro Office version of DEVONthink which means I have a made a financial investment in the product and, if there is a way that I can utilise it better, then I will try to find a way of doing so. Fortunately, I realised today that a lot of this automation is starting to become second nature to me because I had the fix for this sorted in around ten minutes, which for me is pretty good!

1) Use IFTTT to Export Pocket Articles to PDF

Job number 1 is to use our faithful servant IFTTT (If This Then That). You can use the application via the website or download the iOS App. My screenshots below are from the website version. 

I was strapped for time, so I wanted to see if there was a recipe someone had already created for this and, like always, yes there was (The IFTTT community is amazing and I'm very proud to be a part of it). See below:

So to summarise what is happening above, as soon as I favourite an article in Pocket, then the article is going to be converted to a PDF file and sent to a folder in my DropBox account called DEVONthink Auto OCR and Delete. That's quite cool, but it's what happens when it hit's that folder which is where the magic happens.

2) Use an AppleScript to Auto OCR and Delete the PDF

Firstly, in order to get to where we are above, I had to create a folder in Dropbox called DEVONthink Auto OCR and Delete. This folder is going to have an AppleScript assigned to it which was downloaded from the DEVONthink Application (In the top menu bar, click the Scripts icon, then select More scripts and browse for the DEVONthink - Import, OCR and Delete .scpt file)

In order to attach the script to this folder, right click on the folder and select Services. Then choose Folder Actions Setup

Above you will see the completed action, however to further explain. On the left hand side, you can add/remove folders that currently have AppleScripts attached and you can enable/disable them from running via the tick box. On the right hand side, you select the script that is to be assigned. If you wish to add a script, then click on the + button and select the script you wish to assign. The script I have there will automatically Import the pdf into my DEVONthink Inbox, create an OCR'd version and then delete the original. 

So now, I'm done! All I have to do is favourite an article in Pocket by clicking the star and, if my laptop is on, within 30 seconds a fully searchable PDF copy of this article is sitting in my DEVONthink database ready for filing accordingly. By using replication folders in the DEVONthink database and using DEVONthink to Go on my iOS devices, I have them on the go as well. That makes me happy. 

Pocket vs Instapaper - Too close to call

I'm sure that my wife get's secretly (well, sometimes not so secretly) angry with me when she sees my head in my phone or my tablet when sitting on the couch in the evenings. I'm not texting my friends - i don't really have enough to occupy that amount of time (cue violins) and despite the fact that I may occasionally be ensuring that my characters are all busy in Family Guy, The Quest For Stuff, I'm more more often than not browsing Reedr and Flipboard to catch up on all the latest Apple, Tech, Productivity, Sport and News information that's currently out there. (They are in order of importance which is kind of sad when I read it back). 

Now, in order to minimise this potential level of anger bubbling away inside my beloved, I ensure that I'm not actually reading the articles straight away - by using read-it-later apps like Pocket or Instapaper, I'm able to store these articles for reading later, in one app, at a more convenient point in time. Very productive I'm sure you'll agree. I can blast through 150-200 RSS feeds or articles and very quickly swipe through the 10-15 or so of them that I will actually spend time reading more thoroughly and occasionally processing later. 

I used to love Pocket. Pocket had some fantastic IFTTT (If This Then That) rules that I used for automatically copying articles with certain tags across to Evernote. This is fantastic for my book research, as by sending a website to Pocket (using the freely available Save To Pocket Safari bookmarklet) I can tag it with a name of my choice (in this case, PRINCE2) and it is then sent across to my PRINCE2 Book Research Notebook in Evernote for later processing and remains in Pocket for reading at my leisure in it's fantastic user interface. Video playback is awesome with Pocket as well. It's the tagging that I love though. I'm not a nested folders type of person, I used to spend so much more time filing than was necessary when you think of how much time you actually spend recovering that article - so Pocket was great. 

Until every podcast I listened to seemed to recommend Instapaper. They were all using it! I had to see why but I was reluctant to pay the 3 or so dollars for it when I had a perfectly good solution with Pocket. I'm notoriously tight with money as anyone will tell you. However I had to see what the fuss was about and fortunately it was two weeks ago when they came up with the updated version for the iPhone which allowed you to highlight text in articles that you saved for later. Wow. This is an awesome feature. Now, instead of searching for entire articles, you have the opportunity to search through your highlighted bits of text. Now when it comes to researching for a book you are writing, this is a pretty killer feature as it saves a LOT of re-reading time. 

Instapaper also has, in my opinion, a slightly prettier and more professional front-end than Pocket does - however it doesn't have the IFTTT support that Pocket does. Also, Pocket has always just worked. I mean it's rock solid, I've never had any performance problems with it in the three months I've been using it. It's unfair to say that it's better than Instapaper in this regard as I've been using Instapaper for two weeks. but it's certainly a strong piece of software. 

So going forward, I hate using two pieces of software to achieve the same target however I think that's what's going to happen. Pocket will be my day to day RSS-feed-read-it-later-type-app as well as IFTTT'ing my stored documents over to Evernote for filing and I'm going to use Instapaper to carry out the highlighting of any book research that I do. Not ideal but, let's be honest, this is a really good situation to be in when two products are just too good at what they do.