See the potential but not getting the workflow

I use Devonthink, Dynalink, Bear, NValt, OneNote, FSNote, THINGS3 and other apps for binding information together. HOOK sounds fantastic for integration of many of these disparate storage places.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through helps and videos and it just has NOT come together for me how this can SAVE time. Files? Notes? Hubs? the Alt-click drag files here window disappears, no stay on top function? I have yet to see a workflow from creating an anchor page then twigging from there to various resources. I have a way yet in the trial, but at this rate, I am afraid I will not have had the AHA! moment for Hook to hook me. I’d be more than willing to go PRO if I can see rather than just read about the usefulness. Maybe I’m not the only one scratching their heads. Thanks for any help.

Welcome to the forum, @fred1st.

for others reading this:

Are you referring to the menu bar window?

This was discussed in the forum earlier. With that function, Hook would constantly be polling the frontmost app, which would lead to one initial security permission request per app. Could be done, but for the most part it’s less obtrusive for the window to just come and go when needed.

It sounds like you’re saying that you don’t find the videos compelling.

we do intend to produce more videos that would speak to a wider audience, and use cases. The videos illustrate quite a few (e.g., illustrating how it helps in creating new documents , and in learning from complex documents). Maybe we should parcel them out, and create new videos, for each of the benefits listed here https://hookproductivity.com/benefits

The general idea is this: accessing documents via search tends to be more effortful and time consuming than using links; and it wipes out working memory.

It does require that one gets the hang of creating and accessing links. (Similarly, learning to use Finder, Spotlight and launchers takes a bit of time).

Of course, it’s possible that one’s work does not sufficiently revolve around focal documents. E.g., if you just tend to read documents once; if when one creates new documents one don’t like to consult other documents; and if one doesn’t tend to refer to files in shared repositories or prior emails; if, more generally context is not that important to one’s work flow, then something like Hook wouldn’t appeal to one.

Luc

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All the videos and helps on rationale I get. The “how to make it happen” leaves me perplexed. I’m generally a quick learner, especially if I understand the intent and have an immediate need for the tool.

I open a topical webpage “hub” (?) and click Link to New and point to BEAR.

The note is created with title but no links. If I go on to select other links of related material, none of this is added tot he “hub” page in BEAR. I would have expected this, AND that this could be stored as a Hook “file.” I see space for this in a folder but nothing is added there.

I know the AHA moment will come, but for the sake of wide adoption, it needs to come much more intuitively than I am finding it. Maybe it’s just me. I want this to work and become part of my workflow. I want to recommend it to others. Not there yet, but am encouraged that tech support is ALIVE! Thanks.

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Thanks for persisting. This will hopefully help clarify matters for others too. And the topic will inspire our further documentation and screencasts (and perhaps people will use the info for blogs and other forums.)

Hook generates different types of links:

  1. when you use the Copy as Link command, Hook puts a link in the copy buffer. In fact, it puts lots of link data in the copy buffer, in different formats so that the app in which you paste the link can choose what format to use. The name of the source and its URL are included.
  2. Having used “Copy as Link”, you can paste “the” link in a document or field of a target app (e.g., TextEdit, Mail.app, nvALT). This does not involve Hook. The result of the paste depends on the target app and possibly on the type of document open in the target app If you paste it in a RTF doc (say in TextEdit RTF docs), you might get a styled hyperlink (name of the link, with an “underlying” clickable URL). However, if you paste in a plain text document (say in TextEdit), the target app might actually just paste the URL. Some apps will paste the name instead.Their (the target apps’) call. As noted in point 1, Hook puts all the information in the buffer, the target app decides what to take from the buffer and how to “paste it”. That is the way copy-paste works in macOS.
  3. You could instead of, or in addition to, pasting decide to invoke the Hook window and apply its Link to Copied Address. At this point, Hook sets up a link in its database that connects the two files. That action does not embed the link in document. The command is called Link to Copied Address, not Paste Link. “Link to Copied Address” does not modify the data of the target document or item. (If the target is a Finder file, the command might modify the xattributes of a Finder file, but only if you enable Finder tagging in Hook; but tags are not technically stored in Mac files anyway.)

Incidentally, it took us a long time to settle on the terminology of the commands in the Hook window.There is a huge number of considerations/constraints. I think we got it right. There was no other app like Hook to directly compare it with, but there are other apps with “Copy as Link”. For instance, the concept of address goes under different names across the different macOS browsers. One day, I’ll publish an article about the options we considered and the trade-offs.

Coming back to the Link to Copied Address command, this creates a bidirectional link in the Hook database that contains the address (URI) of a pair of linked items, the existing item (or “source”) and the new item (or “target”).

The term “link” is actually an informal, polysemous (multiple meaning) term. To get at the “technical” notion of a link, one needs to stipulate one. One distinction to draw is between unidirectional and bidirectional links:

  • Unidirectional links are what you find on the web and in most apps that expose a concept of link. Compare Hyperlink - Wikipedia. For instance, OmniGroup apps (like OmniFocus) have a “Copy as Link” command. This is of the type mentioned in point 1 above. It is a unidirectional data structure with a name, address and possibly other data.
  • The links you see in the ACCESS LINKED ITEMS section of the Hook window are Bidirectional links. We have been calling them “Hook window links” rather than “bidirectional links” because down the road we will allow users to sever (or hide) half of the link (though in the database we will maintain both sides). They are Hook window links because they show up in the main section of the Hook window ( ACCESS LINKED ITEMS).

Internally, and sometimes publicly, we distinguish between lexical links, which can be written in convenient, plain text, standard formalisms, such as Markdown and HTML, and “Hook window links” or bidirectional links. (Of course in principle one could express bidirectional links lexically, as Hook does when it exports them to a plain text file.)

Like Hook’s “Link to Copied Address” command, Hook’s “Link to New” command sets up a Hook window link. It does not additionally paste the source link into the destination. There are many reasons for this design choice. Having said that, we do not rule out in the future adding functionality to do that. (For instance, we might provide a snippet tool that would copy text from a source document (PDF, HTML, etc.) and paste it into the destination, while adding a “Hook window link” if one is not already there.)

As noted in Hook’s online documentation, “Link to New” does apply an xattribute containing the source of the document. The rationale for this is that “Link to New” is conceptually special in annotation workflows (cf my first Cognitive Productivity book). But again xattributes are not in files per se. And this is not done for “Link to Copied Address”.

The evening before the launch, I updated the Readme.RTF file contained in Hook’s disk image (DMG) file. If you do have a look at it, please let me know whether it does a good job of explaining – except for the fact that I haven’t added images to it yet. We plan to do that.

Also, we will update Hook to contain a “welcome aboard” (tutorial) very soon. It explains Hook with some diagrams and text. And as I said, we’ll have more screencasts.

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Many thanks for the elaboration and reasoning behind the design of HOOK. I won’t quit until everything clicks for me, hoping that happens before end of trial period.

I do not find a ACCESS LINKED ITEMS option in the Hook window. Should I? or do you mean another option?

I am using Opera browser. I’m pretty sure I saw that as supported, but maybe not?

Will you (or have you) somewhere explained the folders created on my hard drive under HOOK? Files exist there only under templates subfolder. As I said before, I expected the “link to new” to create a “hub” file in the designated destination format, then to contain all the Copy As Link selections that would be directed into that folder. I was wrong. So I am at a loss to understand what or where the Hook database exists or how or when to access it.

I will hope to have your explanations of essential elements sink in, and shift soon to muscle memory and gains in “cognitive productivity”-- a term I really like! Thanks for your work to make this work for me and others.

There are a number of distinct features in Hook and they tend to get confusing as the names are not obvious (as there’s not an accepted terminology because they’re unique features) and they can be combined in lots of ways to make lots of different workflows to suit your needs.

Here are some of the possible workflows, that I hope may make sense:

If you have two contexts (document, webpage, image, etc) you want to be connected, then in either one use Hook to copy a Hook link, then in the other context use Hook to link to the copied Hook link. Now, on either document, when you invoke Hook you will see an item listed that takes you to the other context. If you do the same to connect a third context to the first, then the first context will be connected to both the second and the third, the second context will only be connected to the first, and the third context will only be connected to the first. If you want the second and third contexts to be connected you will need to desperately connect them.

An example where this is useful is if you’re working on a document in response to an email, and you come back to the document a week later and need to check what the email said. If, when you started the document, you had connected them with Hook then you can get directly from the document back to that email.

(Just looking after children, I’ll post more in a bit)

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Another workflow is to create new notes, or any kind of document, linked to the current context. One way I use this is when I’m looking at work policy document on the intranet. I need to know if I’ve read all the mandatory policies (and again when they’re updated) but it’s hard to keep track of. So when I’m viewing the page I bring up Hook and see there are no linked items — I probably haven’t read it yet. So I use the link to new option to create a new note (I use Ulysses for my notes). A new Ulysses sheet comes up, with the title of the webpage already inserted, and the webpage and note sheet are automatically linked with Hook links. After I’ve read the policy I add a line in the note saying ‘Read v6 2019-07-14’. I also notice a part of the policy I need to action, so I copy the relevant paragraph into the note, then use Hook to link my task list item to this note.

A year later, an email goes round reminding everyone to read that policy. I go to the policy webpage, open up Hook and see the link to my note. I go to the note and see, yep, I’ve read the current version already, and I can see I made a note of an action point. So I bring up Hook on the note and it links me to the task list item — I still haven’t done it! I better prioritise that!

Another example, it’s my annual review, and I want all my previous review documents to be linked together. So I open up last years document, bring up Hook, and I can see the links to the last 5 years of reviews. I use the keyboard shortcut to copy all these links at once, then in this year’s document use Hook to link to all these previous ones. Except, the list didn’t include last year’s, as that was the current document when I copied, so I copy a Hook link from the new document, go back to last year’s and connect it with Hook. Now when I open Hook on this year’s document I can easily go back to reference any of the previous years.

Another example, I’m creating an agenda for my 1:1 meeting (which, of course, I’ve used Hook to link from the calendar event for easy access on the day). I want to reference an email to discuss. I open the email, use Hook to copy a Hook link, then paste it directly into the agenda. In the meeting, I just click the link on the agenda to go straight to that email.

These examples are just with the basic Hook features. Other features include creating Hook files (like macOS aliases but much better), creating Markdown formatted links, and generating IDs to link to places within a document or link from a physical task list.

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Hook only creates the following folders by default in the ~/Documents/Hook folder

  • notes
  • templates
  • Hook files

FYI:

Notes folder

Regarding notes: you will only see files in the Notes folder if you used the “Link to New” command and select an application that creates files (like TextEdit, Pages, Numbers, and Excel) directly on the File system, not in a space managed by the app. Apps like OmniFocus, Things, Agenda and Apple Notes create objects in a database, so they’re not there. Personal information managers tend to create items in their own space, either exposed in Finder or not (Evernote: not; EagleFiler: yes; DEVONthink: either/or). nvAlt and the new nvUltra (still in beta) manage notes that are exposed on file system, so they’re hybrid.

Notes created by Hook are not Hook files (they don’t have the .hook extension). Hook is just the trigger and then the bridge between them. You can move those files anywhere you want – the links should persist. (Crossing volumes is an interesting case. In macOS, you cannot move a file across volumes, but you can copy and delete. Unlike aliases, Hook links can actually cope with the copy- delete case. We’ll write more about that.)

In the future, we plan to provide more flexibility and variety for where Notes are created. So just think of the Notes folder as a default home. There’s also a recent forum thread about symbolic links to change where the Hook documents folder resides, but that’s an advanced topic.

Hook files folder

Regarding Hook files: using the “Copy as Link”, “Link to Copied Address”, and “Link to New” commands does not create Hook files. You will only see items in the Hook files folder if you use the “Make Hook File” command, which is in the Gear menu. Hook files are a special feature which as @stevelw explained are like aliases and weblocs, except they are more general and they are plain text. Basically, you can put any Markdown link or address in there (whether it’s a hook:// address or anything else), and later when you double click on the file, Hook will resolve it for you. This brings the “Markdown philosophy” (plain text, etc.) to these files, solving an old problem with aliases which are opaque.

Hook files are created by default in the “Hook files” folder. However, they don’t need to stay there. You can move Hook files wherever you want. And in the future, we plan to allow you to create Hook files in place (similar to macOS “make alias” command).

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STEVE

“So I use the link to new option to create a new note (I use Ulysses for my notes). A new Ulysses sheet comes up, with the title of the webpage already inserted, and the webpage and note sheet are automatically linked with Hook links.”

When I LINK TO NEW a bear note is created with the title of the webpage but no links are contained leading back to the page.

“Except, the list didn’t include last year’s, as that was the current document when I copied, so I copy a Hook link from the new document, go back to last year’s and connect it with Hook.”

HOW to go back to last year’s notes? I see no way that connected links are stored and capable of being accessed later. HOW?

“Another example, I’m creating an agenda for my 1:1 meeting (which, of course, I’ve used Hook to link from the calendar event for easy access on the day). I want to reference an email to discuss.”

BUMMER. Cannot create link to gmail or Spark and cannot like to calendar event in google calendar/Fantastical other then link to the entire mail or calendar, not granular at all.

“These examples are just with the basic Hook features. Other features include creating Hook files (like macOS aliases but much better), creating Markdown formatted links, and generating IDs to link to places within a document or link from a physical task list.”

I’ll hang tough, maybe not getting to the point where I can wring every ounce of use out of the app, but neither do I for Photoshop, Devonthink etc. Miles to go, but thanks for the lift.


Luc…

“Regardingnotes: you will only see files in the Notes folder if you used the “Link to New” command and select an application that creates files (like TextEdit, Pages, Numbers, and Excel) directly on the File system, not in a space managed by the app.”

I have used Link to New to create new files in Textedit, Bear, Notes and maybe other in my explorations and NO files have been created in NOTES under HOOK FOLDER.

“Hook files are a special feature which as @stevelw explained are like aliases and weblocs, except they are more general and they are plain text. Basically, you can put any Markdown link or address in there (whether it’s a hook:// address or anything else), and later when you double click on the file, Hook will resolve it for you.”

I created a test FILE via the gear icon. I see it in the folder in FINDER. But how to “put any x y z” in there. Should I create subfolders by topic within the HOOK FILES folder, then drag links into it? I don’t see how to add to a FILE.

► GENTS…I have gained a bit of usefulness from this conversation even at first pass. I’ll chew on this some more, but meanwhile, I have the suspicion that something is not working as it should at my end (2015 iMac High Sierra). I trust all the kinks will get worked out over time.

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What do you see listed in the Hook window when you invoke it on the Bear note?

“What do you see listed in the Hook window when you invoke it on the Bear note?”

I only see the title of the webpage. In this case…

RCP 8.5: The Climate-Change Disaster Scenario - The Atlantic

No other data on the page. I can make a point to save URL and TITLE but thinking per your discussion that that should be automatic.

It sounds like you’re looking at the Bear note not the Hook window. The hook window is the one that looks like this

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What I see in the Hook window when viewing Bear note created by Link to New–ah yes, THERE’s the linked item, NOT in the body of the “parent” document like I expected. Wish somehow (like diigo) there could be an indication that a link existed. Somewhere didn’t I see that I could append something to title (like hook__ ) to indicate this?

And if I wanted a second item linked to this page…second screen shot. A tiny AHA since others are still asleep. By george I’ve got it–at least the edges of it. Hooked! Thanks.

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If you wanted to have the link to the original item put in the Bear note itself, you can do that by editing the Hook script for Bear (Pro feature).

There’s a setting to add a prefix to new files made with Hook, but that doesn’t apply to new documents made using the script links (bottom section is new using scripts, top section is new using template files).

Is the trial NOT a pro version? I assumed it was. Is it the free or the lower-level paid version?

There is a lot I don’t know but will be willing to learn when NVultra comes along. Editing hook scripts: I will welcome much hand-holding at that point! ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Can a new document be created (in Bear, Textedit etc) and given a topical title, THEN designate it as the LINK to NEW destination? I don’t see how to do this, and would often want to have this user-created document be the target rather than a wikipedia page (which was indicated in helps as a likely target.)

I’ll use what little I now know and learn much more of what I don’t. Already helpful for workflow: I created a Keyboard maestro action to call the Hook Window then Copy as Link, and will use that often to paste into or from Dynalist and/or NValt, which are my main info-organizers for notes, with DevonthinkPro for articles and essays and blog posts archives.

Thanks for your help, all! – Fred

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The trial has the pro features.

The Hook scripts are all in AppleScript — you’ll find learning AppleScript useful if you use things like KeyboardMaestro.

The Link to New feature is just a shortcut to:

  1. Create a new file
  2. Give it a relevant title
  3. Link it to the original context.

Hook created files aren’t special in any way, they just combine steps.

If you want to create/name files manually that’s fine, just do step 3 by copying the Hook link from either the new document or the source context and then pasting it into Hook on the other side.

I’m in. Purchased Pro. It will make me work at this until I get my money’s worth! { ; > ))

AppleScript. Roger that. I’d love to make NValt work w Hook, and see the places to enter script for Get Name and Get Address. I bet that info is already floating around on the forum somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.

I’ve been so encouraged to jump in by the kind and helpful reception by the forum. Thanks SteveLW et al.

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According to the list of apps that are known to work with Hook nvALT should work already.

They’re in the Script Editor Tab (in the Preferences Window, under the Gear Menu)

I see some script present now in NValt in the script editor that was not present before (since going pro?)

I assumed NValt would appear in the Link to New list, but doesn’t. I can copy markdown link from NValt files and that is helpful for connecting NValt files to Dynalist bullets–the latter the signpost, the former the fleshed-out destination materials.

I’m stumbling backwards through this complex application and discovering tiny disconnected bits here and there by trial and (mostly) error. At some point, maybe, the pieces will come together.

I think, when a knowledgeable and experienced user puts together THE video that reaches the only- mildly-informed but motivated potential user and shows start to finish how HOOK is used to create a topic, add to and connected all the relevant docs, videos, files, folders and notes–that will sell this app like crazy!

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Not in front of my computer but that sounds like there isn’t currently a New Document script for nvALT — there probably isn’t the necessary API in nvALT to do it (yet).