converting previous entries into sheets

I just downloaded DT Pro, and the “sheets” feature seems terrific. This adds database-like fields to individual records in the DT Pro database, right?

Here’s my question: is it possible to import / transfer / convert entries (rtf) from a DT PE databases into sheets? I have an extensive DT PE database of notes, and it would be great to have them in sheet format (obviously, some manual work would be required, but I’d still like to see the body of a note in a sheet column/field).

Sheets/records are primarily intended for importing tab delimited text files, which typically come from spreadsheet exports or database exports, e.g. from FileMaker. They are great for things like expense reports (scripts are available to do simple mathematics across ‘rows’ and down ‘columns’), contact lists and the like.

You might play with a test sheet, doing manual cut/paste of some of your notes into records, to see whether or not you really like the result. You may lose some of the flexibility DT Pro provides with multiple views of your notes. You may also give up some of the hyperlinking potential that’s available to your notes in your current database.

Sheets/records may be a workable solution for people who have large tab delimited files resulting from exports of other databases, especially some of you switching over from the Wintel world to the coming Mactel world.

They really look nice :smiley: They also don’t allow formatting within fields, which is too bad.

But how do you import just into the sheets/records part of a database?

I have the same question, mbizer.

Try as I might I cannot find any way of importing existing data into sheets. If true this seems an incredible omission as there is nothing more onerous than having to manually dissect existing data to put it into a table structure. I’ve looked at the import commands, scripts etc.

If I’ve overlooked something please tell me. Frankly with an Alpha lasting so long it would be amazing if this issue wasn’t pegged before so I’m assuming that it’s probably staring me in the face!

Same here. I’ve created a sheet with the column structure of the tab-delimited file I want to import (as individual records, obviously) into that sheet. Cannot find the way to do it.

psmyth and spacewalk:

Suppose you have a tab delimited text file, perhaps exported from a database or spreadsheet. It has the suffix .txt.

Change the suffix to .tab.

Now do File > Import > Files and Folders within DT Pro and select that text file.

You should now have a new sheet with records.

But don’t try to convert your existing documents database into a sheet – no formatting, returns can cause problems, less view flexibility, limited linking potential – that’s why I wouldn’t choose Excel over DT for my documents database.

But a Sheet is great for many of the things you might use a spreadsheet for, such as property records, expense accounts, analytical data (perhaps), software purchases – that sort of thing.

Play with it and see what you think. :slight_smile:

Just a short comment,

try to export a dummy sheet with few columns and rows. Then open the exported file in a text editor. Now you see the exact format and know the necessary extension. I already created new sheets in a text editor this way, it is easy to manipulate existing data in BBEdit with GREP etc.


Bill: If you wouldn’t use a sheet for an existing documents database, what WOULD you do?

Let me get more specific. For a book I’m writing, I made a Filemaker NOTES db with a record structure that included fields for WHO (which character) the note related to, WHEN (at what point in the book) it was likely to be relevant (early, middle, late), WHERE (physical location), TYPE (scene, character note, piece of dialogue, etc.).

How would you preserve the value of such a thing when bringing it into DT Pro?

It seems to me this is what the sheets would be good for (with one exception). Just export the FM database as tab delimited, change the extension to “.tab” and the import that (no need to create a sheet or records before importing).

The exception: as someone has noted, there is no formatting in fields, and it seems to me that you also can’t enter Return into a field. Also, I don’t see how to have more than one line of a field visible, so even though it may contain lengthy text you only see that first line. I hope I’m wrong about this, or if not that this is something that can be changed for the final release.

Why so many limitations?

I have to say that DT Pro is a bit disappointing for another reason:

Separate databases, yes, but only one can be open at a time?

It certainly seems the easiest way to get stuff in from Filemaker, etc. But if many ultimately useful DT features are lost in the process, it’s probably a bad idea.

The only other thing I can think of is somehow (don’t know how right now) to dump every Filemaker record as a separate text file in a folder, then import that folder as a DT Group. That would keep the info structure more in the spirit of DT and avoid Sheets, but what would happen to all the field structure? Is there even a way to get certain fields to go into the Comments section of DT’s Show Info window?

And even if we weren’t talking about importing a legacy db, but rather using DT itself to store notes and ideas on a book project, how would one use DT’s capabilities to flag a certain note as belonging to a character or a specific sub-plot etc.?

It would be great if there were some sort of hybrid between sheets and regular notes. Perhaps a regular note with the ability to add database-like entries at the top. See the way Eastgate’s Tinderbox implements attributes for a good idea of how this could work.



Slow down on preconceptions and start playing with the features. See what you can do, and that will probably give you ideas.

Remember also that regular DEVONthink Pro documents can do interesting things. If you’ve got notes in FM and want to put them into DT Pro, try both sheets/records (.tab suffix import) and regular note imported using the .txt suffix.

If you break up FM records into individual texts per record, you may find that you can do things (filters, sorts, smart groups, etc.) with DT Pro documents that you couldn’t do in FM, and probably can’t do as easily in sheets/records. (I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to experiment by importing a big tabbed text file as sheet/records, then exporting the records as individual text files, then importing those back as text documents in DT Pro. Perhaps this is a way to break up tabbed text in a useful way?

Concurrent DT Pro databases will come down the line, probably in version 2.x, which will reduce memory requirements per database.

That’s interesting, Bill. I’ll play with that.

But, again, when you export a Sheet’s Records as individual text files (for re-importing into DT Pro as text files), what happens to the field structures of a Record? In your long experience with DT Pro, what is your practice for structuring “regular DT Pro documents” so that they can take advantage of those “interesting things” that DT Pro can do?

I’m anticipating that the text exported from a record will contain all the text in the record, probably in the order of the ‘cells’ in the record.

I would just use DT Pro’s abilities to search and sort records, using additional filtering by replicating items into new groups. You can set up the logical relationships between text contents in very powerful ways, perhaps using multilevel searches. Example: What scenes does a character appear in? Easy.

It’s not easy to “play” – there is no documentation to speak of, and frankly, it’s more than a little buggy. :frowning:

Bill: I feel that you’re hearing me. Given that you know DT as well as anyone, I’m going to take it on faith that the necessary power is there, particularly in Pro. Obviously, it’s a different kind of power than I’m accustomed to from a program like Filemaker. I haven’t made the paradigm shift yet, and you can see that I’ve been fighting the necessity to do so. When you’re flat-out busy with core work, it’s daunting to start walking into uncharted time-sink territory. But I have learned over the years that the best powerful software allows (and requires) creative users to build their own relationships to the power.

Though I’ve used (and depended upon) DT PE for 6 months now, I haven’t delved deeply – partly because I’ve been waiting for Pro to enable me to build a copious repository with legacy content. Thus I don’t even know what you mean by “you can set up the logical relationships between text contents in very powerful ways.” Sure, I was hoping it would be easy. It’s not going to be. Clearly, I have to study the thing and find ways to make it work for me. And then I guess I’ll have to write some DT Pro tutorials. :slight_smile: (Along with others here, I hope.)

The key thing is that DT Pro – and the developers and the company – looks profound enough to justify the investment.


I’ve learned a lot from other users on the forum, and continue to do so. For example, someone (eiron, I believe) posted today an adapted script that will allow adding a keyword or tag (metadata) to multiple selected documents at the same time. That’s a neat idea, and it can be used to do all kinds of logical tricks with information.

A good idea is just to start trying to do something. When you get stuck, check the forum to see if something like that has been done, or post a query on the forum and ask if anyone knows a way to accomplish what you are trying to do.

A former governor of Louisiana (a state in the USA) was quoted as saying this: “There are more ways of killing a cat than by stuffing it with butter.” That’s sort of appropriate when applied to logical tricks for manipulating information. Often there are many possible approaches, and one wants to find an approach that’s as simple as possible.

That particular governor was committed to a mental institution while still in office. He got out by firing the hospital director and appointing someone who would release him. That was logical, wasn’t it? :slight_smile:

I’m amazed you could learn anything from me about DT, Bill, but glad to know you found the script useful. As for your great cat quote – which I’ve copied into my DT “quotations” folder – I could use a little metadata: Is that a HueyLongism?



No, that one is attributed to Earl Long. I’ve heard that another member of the Long family, Senator Russell Long, also used that quote on occasion, especially in talking about tax bills.

Caveat: I don’t condone killing cats. Or taxes, either. :slight_smile: