Thoughts on some of the limits when using Hook

In many ways, I’m really, really excited about the potential of Hook, and I’m already using it for several things, but it’s not the Swiss Army knife I was hoping for. Here are some thoughts on it, in the interest of generating some discussion among beta-users. I hope it’s useful! (BTW this connects to some earlier discussion with Luc here: Managing sets of linked items). And perhaps there are people who can point out how I’m missing the potential here.

  • When I’m working in a document, I can link reference materials to it. But then I’m in the mode of being based in a “hub” document, and I go out and connect spokes. This is good for when I leave the document, in search of something, find it, and then want to connect it to what I just left, as I return. Maybe I should work more like that, but even when I don’t get lost down a rabbit hole, I’m constantly stumbling across materials that I know I’ll need for something else later, and I don’t want to forget about the connection or have to redo the search.
    • Case in point: I’m working on a syllabus for a course; I go out looking for information about additional readings…on the web, in previous documents, in Bookends, etc. I can copy links and paste those when I return to the syllabus document.
  • What most disappointing about the current (beta!) version of Hook is it’s not particularly useful as a tool for of gathering things for later.
    • As I’ve been trying it out, I have considered making an anchor document, to which I could keep sending stuff. And then I realized, it would be much simpler just to make a Finder tag for that, which I could add to various files at any point, with autocompletion and available on iOS. Of course, this doesn’t work for some things (though MailTags helps), and Hook is very good at generating a link to pretty much anything – but at the cost of having to use Hook (and macOS) to access it.
    • Moreover, the main problem is still with situations in which I often come across things and realize it would be useful to link it to something other than what I’m working on right now (or also for that other matter). For that, Hook is really awkward. Am I supposed to go looking for a file associated with that other project, and then use Hook to copy it, and then come back to the item that’s open so that I can link it? What I would actually like is a drop-down menu of recent “anchor” files that I could use for collecting things, and in addition to “Link to Copied Address” I get “Link to Recent Item” and “Link to Favorite Item” where I can pick a destination from a list.
  • Unlike tags, none of this linking is available on iOS
  • Hook is also frustrating when it comes to batching the creation of links; even if I didn’t find it so annoying to have to do so much with the mouse (dragging items to the little icon on the menu bar), it’s still quite difficult to add things in batches. For example, I’ve had difficulty dra
  • It’s also pretty opaque how the “notes” folder works and what the status is of the files that live there.
  • I just don’t get how the “meshing” is supposed to work, unless I can do it at a point when I’ve already got everything selected at one time. But I’ve discuss that elsewhere, and Luc has patiently explained his approach: Managing sets of linked items

As @LucB said in the post you linked to, @AutonomyGaps

This might point to the gap you sense (and I agree with you on that point). We have a model of the [mesh] network in our heads, but Hook does not. Which is not a fault, it’s just a fact.

I’ve seen three use patterns (which I believe are described elsewhere) in a nutshell.

  1. A binary connection of this to that "I want to take notes about this document, so I will have Hook create a single, linked note file"
  2. Immediately creating a one-to-many collection of this to those “I have already collected several related documents, so I will right now have Hook create a meshed set of links between them”
  3. Gradually creating a one-to-many, or many-to-many, collection of this or these to those "I am browsing or researching over time and will build up this collection depending on where my browsing and reading takes me"

This last one is, in my usage, the most frequent case and also the most difficult to manage with Hook. It’s really easy to do pattern #3 in DEVONthink or EagleFiler or Keep It – and maybe that’s what we users need to think about – is there a good method to make one of those apps work well with Hook and find value in doing so. So far, I’ve figured out ways to do pattern #3 but because it takes more steps to do so, I don’t yet find the value in using Hook in conjunction with (in my case) DEVONthink.

Hmmmm … need to think about this more :smiley_cat:

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Just a quick reply for now. Regarding

There’s an overlap between the two.The folder in which notes are created (per Hook > Preferences > Notes tab ) can be set to a folder that is managed by an information manager that deals with Finder folders: DEVONthink and EagleFiler come to mind. In fact, I’ve just now combined Hook with the latter (in my own workflow). (I have explored those tools , even studied them and discussed them in my books; but I had always found ways to get things done using other methods.)

Hook is meant to be a very lean tool that works well with, and bridges all kinds of apps on the Mac. As a philosophy, if an existing macOS feature or well-established app covers a domain, then it may be preferable for CogSci Apps not to try to re-invent that, but to leverage it. (On a previous multi-year , multi-million$ R&D ancestor of this project, we went the other way: build everything in.) For instance ,Hook doesn’t remove the need for:

  • a launcher (e.g., LaunchBar or Alfred),
  • search tools (Spotlight & HoudahSpot),
  • bookmarking services ( Pinboard and/or Pocket – I use both),
  • sync services (e.g., Dropbox, or DEVONthink to go),
  • information managers (for those who need them), and
  • automation utilities (e.g., Keyboard Maestro).

However, I fully agree that there are features that can/should be added to Hook to address concerns above. We have several on the product road map (e.g., some Recent Items features which all Mac apps that open files should have, but Hook currently lacks :frowning: ); I will publish some of them. But before we prioritize them, I want to better understand user feedback, which has been very helpful, and to address the concerns in our plan.

And also documentation is in development. (I apologize. I really expected Hook to ship with loads more documentation, but with multiple interwoven projects I didn’t manage.) Early this morning, for instance, our developer, Graham, added a new iteration of documentation : Hook Window – Hook, which I will review today. We need to add documentation about how to use 3rd party tools in combination with Hook.

Also, Hook itself will be scriptable, which will open up many possibilities to serve additional needs. The community might share some automations at that point, and I envision that CogSci Apps will publish scripts and then based on user feedback, incorporate some of them directly in Hook.

I considered indexing the Hook “notes” folder in DEVONthink. I decided it was a bad idea for these reasons:

  1. If something in an indexed folder is moved to a different location in the file system, DEVONthink loses track of the document, which becomes unknown to the database.
  2. The “notes” folder is just a dumping ground – sort of a very low level inbox. DEVONthink (and others) already have Inboxes and I don’t want to be curating two inboxes, or more, across the several production databases that I use all day.
  3. As discussed elsewhere, documents moved from “notes” to DEVONthink databases become unknown to Hook. This is a very tricky and perhaps intractable data architecture problem – I’ve fiddled with work-around scripts, all of which are fragile.

For these reasons and others, I’ve decided that for now Hook and DEVONthink are not partners. I don’t use Eagle Filer or Keep It (have no reason to) so I cannot comment on that use case.

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thanks, much. I agree that moving files in DEVONthink will break links. And I don’t have a solution for that either at the moment.

We looked at providing an option for notes created via Hook’s “Link to New” to be immediately stored inside DevonThink but passed on that for the time being. We will revisit. And we’ll need to publish a document at some point on interop with DEVONthink, based partly on the community feedback.

I’m pretty confident re EagleFiler because one of its major design constraints is to keep files in Finder folders , and interoperability. However, obviously early days on that front for Hook.