One-Click DevonThink Markdown Journal Entry

With COVID-19 running wild here in Quebec we are homeschooling this year. One of the ways that the government evaluates the progress of homeschool students is by asking parents to submit a portfolio. Since I’m primarily responsible for English classes I need to have records. I already use DevonThink as a data repository, so that’s where the homeschooling records are going.

English Journal

Every time we spend some time working on English I create a journal entry as a new Markdown in Devonthink. I thought about keeping one large document and continually appending to it but several small documents seems more searchable and gives me accurate timestamps and geolocations, (if we ever travel again). The journal entries are all kept in a Homeschool > English Journal group.

Since creating a new markdown document several times a week is kind of slow I made a template, and added a button to the menu bar in Devonthink to create a new English Journal entry with one click.

Creating a Devonthink Template

As a fairly new Devonthink user this was my first foray into using templates. I assumed there would be some sort of template editor in Devonthink but there isn’t. You can create an existing document as a template or copy an existing template in Finder. There are also two kinds of templates: normal, and “smart” templates. Normal templates aren’t completely dumb – they have some placeholders that can be replaced by dynamic values, (things like Date, Time, or the user’s name). Smart templates are a bundle of files, including an AppleScript file. The AppleScript file is the main file in the template and controls everything. There can be other files in the bundle, (like a file), and the AppleScript file can refer to those files. I ended up with a Smart template, with some minimal smarts.

A screenshot of the directory structure of the English Journal Devonthink template.The script in my template opens my “Home” database, makes sure the Homeschool > English Journal group exists, then creates a new markdown document in the English Journal group based on the English file. The script is relatively simple:

-- Import helper library
tell application "Finder" to set pathToAdditions to ((path to application id "DNtp" as string) & "Contents:Resources:Template Script Additions.scpt") as alias
set helperLibrary to load script pathToAdditions

-- Get the template file path.
set theTemplateFile to helperLibrary's pathToLocalizedResources() & "English"

tell application id "DNtp"
	-- Open the database.
	set theDatabase to open database "/Users/John/Databases/Home.dtBase2"
	-- Get a reference to the group I want.
	set theLocation to create location "/Homeschool/English Journal" in theDatabase
	-- Create the document based on the template file.
	set entry to import theTemplateFile to theLocation placeholders {}
	-- Open the new document.
	open tab for record entry
end tell

The markdown file is pretty simple too. %time% and %longDate% are Devonthink placeholders to put the date & time into the journal entry.

# English Activity Record
## %time% %longDate%

### Activities
- Pages ### - ### in _Toute ma 3e année_.

### Parent Reading Aloud

I may adjust it to prompt for a title for each entry, and to add my current location to the text of each entry.

One-Click Template Use

With a working template bundle, (in ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink 3/Templates.noindex), it was time to put a button in the Devonthink menu bar:

How to put a template in the Devonthink toolbar:

  1. Move the template bundle into ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink 3/Templates.noindex/Toolbar
  2. Restart Devonthink
  3. Go to View > Customize Toolbar in Devonthink
  4. Drag the “English” button to the Toolbar.

While View > Customize Toolbar is open you can choose to show the Icon and Text in the toolbar if you want.

Set an icon for the toolbar button:

It is possible to set a custom icon for the toolbar button, (by default it’s a gear). Devonthink has a weird way of setting the icon, (weird in a good way): set the icon of the template bundle in Finder. Devonthink takes whatever icon Finder thinks the template should have and puts it in the toolbar.

How to customize a file’s icon on macOS:

  1. Open the image you want to use as a custom icon, (in Preview, or wherever).
  2. Copy the image, (Command-C, or Edit > Copy).
  3. Option-click the file that will get the custom icon.
  4. Select “Get Info” from the menu.
  5. Click the file icon in the “Get Info” window so it’s highlighted.
  6. Command-V to paste the image you copied in Step 2 as the custom icon.

If you ever want to remove the custom icon to back to the Get Info window and Command-X to remove it.

The new “English” button in my Devonthink.

Mobile Entry?

This system only works on my computer. I’d like to have a mobile option but in this moment it’s not a pressing need.

OmniFocus Progress Chart Part 1: Extract & Save Data

Measured progress motivates me. I want to see how many things are in my OmniFocus library and if it’s trending larger or smaller. My desktop has been home to a list of today’s completed OmniFocus tasks for a long time, and now it’s home to a pair of charts: remaining items over the last 30 days, and items completed per day for the last 30 days.

The charts are created in 3 steps, and I am breaking these up into two posts:

  1. Extract a snapshot of the status of the database every day, (this post).
  2. Use that snapshot to create a text-based chart, (next post).
  3. Show the chart on my desktop, (next post).

Steps 1 & 2 are handled by a Javascript for Automation application written in Script Editor. Step 3 is handled by GeekTool.

Extracting & Saving the Database Status

There are a few ways to build a program that interacts with other programs on a Mac. For the completed task list I used Automator, but I don’t like editing Java- or Apple- script in the tiny Automator windows, so I tried out Script Editor. Script Editor lets us create an app bundle with somewhat modularized code, but isn’t the greatest IDE and crashes more than it should. Save your work often.

Applescript is foreign to me so I opted for Javascript for Automation, aka JXA, Apple’s, (maybe abandoned?), attempt to get a Javascript version of Applescript running. It works ok, but documentation of how it actually works, and what parts of modern Javascript are supported, is hard to find.

To extract the data we can use OmniFocus’s flattenedTasks list, which gets a flattened list of all tasks in the database, then we can filter that list of tasks by status, creation date, completion date, and so on:

// Get the "document" that we need to work with.
const ofdoc = Application('OmniFocus').defaultDocument;

// Get a list of all tasks in the DB.
const tasks = ofdoc.flattenedTasks;
// now tasks.length is the total number of tasks in the DB
// (this will change a lot when you archive old tasks)

// Filter using the .whose method.
const remainingTasks = tasks.whose({
      effectivelyCompleted: false,
      effectivelyDropped: false

// ... etc. for completed tasks, and tasks completed/added/dropped in the past day.

Filtering with whose is pretty slow so this can’t be run every few seconds, (it takes several seconds to run), but for now I’m only updating daily so it’s fine if it’s slow.

I tried iterating over the tasks and checking the effectivelyCompleted property on each one, thinking it would be faster, but effectivelyCompleted has to send a message to OmniFocus to get a response, and doing that for my entire library is much slower than a single .whose() call.

Once all the tasks are filtered the current stats put into a Javascript object, which is .push()‘ed onto the end of a Javascript array of all the stats and stored on disk as a JSON file.

Modularizing the code was a hurdle.

I tried using module exports & imports but they don’t work. It seems like there is an import() function available but I can’t find what it does. It’s hard to see what Javascript/ECMAScript features are supported in JXA. Some documentation says that it uses the same Javascript engine as Safari, but if that was true when it was released it doesn’t appear to be true now.

Even without exports & imports the Release Notes say we can import libraries into our script like so:

// Imports from StatsProcessor.scpt - supposedly. Also, where is StatsProcessor.scpt?
const StatsProcessor = Library("StatsProcessor");

The 10.11 Release Notes say that we can put our library scripts into the ‘Contents/Library/Script Libraries’ directory of the App we’re making. I couldn’t find a way to do this, or even see the Script Libraries folder in Script Editor, but once I moved everything around with finder the library was recognized and the import worked. But this code crashed:

const StatsProcessor = Library("StatsProcessor");

Not only did it crash, but it made Script Editor crash as well. Calling any method on an imported library caused a crash. Apparently we need to use a “compiled” script – a .scptd file – for libraries. This isn’t documented anywhere that I can find, and there seems to be no way to change between a .scpt and .scptd file, at least not using a GUI.

There’s also no documentation for that a Library actually is and what’s available when it’s imported. From what I can see any global function declared in the imported file is available as a method on the imported object.

Once the modularization was working it was relatively straightforward to figure out where to store the data, (answer: In ~/Library/Application Support/OmniFocusStats), and save it as desired.

Next up: Using the data to make & display a chart.


Once in a while I run into websites that block pasting in password, (or confirm password), fields. Like most bad ideas it doesn’t happen often but it happens just enough that I no longer want to manually type out the javascript to re-enable pasting.

So I made a bookmarklet. Here it is:


Drag it to your bookmark toolbar to install it in your browser. When you find a page blocks paste click the bookmark and paste should be restored.

How it works

When clicked a bit of Javascript executes that adds an event listener to the capturing phase of the paste event and stops any further propagation of the event. Because we usually react to the bubble phase of DOM events, and the capture phase comes first, the bookmarklet’s event listener captures the event, lets the default action happen, and prevents all other JS from listening to it, preventing the web page from blocking your carefully-pasted text. The actual code is a shortened version of the function at How to Enable Pasting Text on Sites that Block It.

DeadTrees 1.1: More Cover Sources

An update to DeadTrees, my WordPress plugin for sharing the books I read, is now live in the WordPress Plugin Repository. This update does one major thing: diversifies the sources of cover images.

What happened was Amazon introduced a quota on the API that the original DeadTrees was using to fetch cover art. The API quota is based on how many sales a user has, and I’m famous enough to have many sales, so my API access was eventually cut off. When I started posting my backlog of books I really wanted cover art, so I polished off the (very) dusty code and got to work.

Version 1.1 of DeadTrees maintains support for Amazon cover art and adds support for fetching cover art from and LibraryThing. There’s a setting to try Amazon first or last, and the plugin tries to be smart about when to try or LibraryThing, (it prefers, as they seem to provide larger images, and don’t require an API key).

If you want to see DeadTrees in action take a look at the list of books I have read, which is powered by DeadTrees. For support post in the forum, and for bugs & feature requests post in the same forum or create a Github issue.

Happy Reading!

Remove a model’s Global Scopes in Laravel Nova

I am working on a Laravel project that has moderated reviews. Most of the time we only deal with reviews that have been approved, so the Review model has an ApprovedScope Global Scope to only show approved review, but staff members need to see un-approved reviews in our Nova admin so that we can approve, (or reject), reviews. Removing a Global Scope from a model for all of Nova is trickier than it appears at first glance, but there’s at least one way to do it, and maybe more.

Things that do not work

Call withoutGlobalScopes() in the Nova::serving() callback

Googling “remove global scope nova” turns up a post on Medium called Add or remove global scopes in Nova. Sounds promising! It claims we can remove global scopes by adding this to the boot method of the `NovaServiceProvider:

class NovaServiceProvider extends NovaApplicationServiceProvider
     * Bootstrap any application services.
     * @return void
    public function boot()
        Nova::serving(function () {

Cool! But it doesn’t work. When adding a global scope to a model using the model’s boot method like the Laravel documentation shows, the model’s boot method is called after the Nova::serving() callback. So in this situation we remove nothing from the Rating, then add a global scope later when the model is booted.

Call withoutGlobalScopes() in the model’s booted event

If a model has a global scope added during its boot then we should be able to remove it during the ‘booted’ event – or at least that’s what I thought, so I tried this in NovaServiceProvider::boot :

Nova::serving(function() {
    Event::listen('eloquent.booted: App\Rating', function($rating) {

No dice. I’m not certain why this doesn’t work, but some XDebug spelunking shows me that:

  1. There’s no withoutGlobalScopes() method on Laravel models, but when the model gets a method call that it doesn’t recognize it passes it to the model’s Builder instance.
  2. The Builder does have a withoutGlobalScopes method, so we don’t get an InvalidMethodException. In the Builder’s withoutGlobalScopes call the ApprovedScope is removed from the Builder’s list of global scopes.
  3. But the Global Scope is still applied to the query. My best guess is that a different query builder is used to actually generate results, or that later, when the models are about to be retrieved from the DB, the model re-passes the list of Global Scopes to the builder – and since we haven’t removed the Global Scope from the model it gets re-added to the Query Builder. If anyone knows what’s actually going on here I would love to know in the comments or on Twitter.

Something that does work

We need to remove the Global Scope after the model has booted and prevent it from being passed or re-passed to the Query Builder. How about a Model::withoutGlobalScopes method? The model’s addGlobalScope method comes from the Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Concerns\HasGlobalScopes trait, and stores the global scopes in a static::$globalScopes[static::class] array. Creating our own HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait, with withoutGlobalScope and withoutGlobalScopes methods that mirror the signature of the Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Builder withoutGlobalScope and withoutGlobalScopes methods can solve the problem, (also available as a Gist):


namespace App\Concerns;

use Closure;
use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Scope;
use Illuminate\Support\Arr;

trait HasRemovableGlobalScopes {

	 * @param  \Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Scope|string  $scope
	public static function withoutGlobalScope( $scope )
		if (is_string($scope) && is_array(static::$globalScopes[static::class])) {
			Arr::forget(static::$globalScopes[static::class], $scope);
		} elseif ($scope instanceof Closure) {
			Arr::forget(static::$globalScopes[static::class], spl_object_hash($scope));
		} elseif ($scope instanceof Scope) {
			Arr::forget(static::$globalScopes[static::class], get_class($scope));

	 * @param \Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Scope[]|string[] $scopes
	public static function withoutGlobalScopes( array $scopes = [])
		if(empty($scopes)) {
			static::$globalScopes = [];
		} else {
			foreach($scopes as $scope) {

The withoutGlobalScope method mirrors the HasGlobalScopes::addGlobalScope method to remove a single global scope, and the withoutGlobalScopes method can accept an array of global scopes to remove or be called with no parameters to remove all global scopes, (the same as Builder::withoutGlobalScopes).

A drawback?

The fact that we have to do this to remove global scopes for Nova seems to be an oversight. I’m hopeful that withoutGlobalScope/withoutGlobalScopes methods will be added to future versions of Laravel. If that happens there will be a method name collision between the HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait’s methods and the first-party ones, so read the release notes if you’re going to use this method.

Something else that might work

After writing the HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait I realized it should be possible to create an additional global scope that undoes my original global scope. In this case something like this might work:

Nova::serving(function() {
    Event::listen('eloquent.booted: App\Rating', function($rating) {
        Rating::addGlobalScope(new AllRatingsScope);

Where AllRatingsScope says to include all ratings. I haven’t tried this so don’t know what happens when there are two global scopes that specify opposite conditions. You might get no results, or the scope that’s applied last might win. Assuming that the scope applied last wins it’s still important to use the eloquent.booted event to make sure the “undo” scope is added after the original scope.

All together now

I’m sticking with the HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait. I feel like actually removing the Global Scope is more logical than adding another scope to undo what the first one does. Using the HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait, this is what my whole system looks like:

Apply the original global scope to the Rating, (or wherever you need a global scope), and use the HasRemovableGlobalScopes trait:

class Rating extends Model
	use HasRemovableGlobalScopes;

	// ... 

	protected static function boot()
		static::addGlobalScope(new ApprovedScope);

	// ...

Set the event listener in the NovaServiceProvider’s boot method to remove the global scope for Nova:

class NovaServiceProvider extends NovaApplicationServiceProvider
     * Bootstrap any application services.
     * @return void
    public function boot()
	    Nova::serving(function() {

		    Event::listen('eloquent.booted: App\Rating', function($rating) {
			    Log::info('rating booted ' . request()->url());


It works well for me. A possible enhancement would be to have my own App\Model class that extends Laravel’s Model and uses HasRemovableGlobalScopes, then extend my other models from that. At the moment I don’t have my own App\Model, and don’t have a lot of places where I need to share between all my models, but if I find I’m sprinkling too many use HasRemovableGlobalScopes lines around my code base I’ll make the change.