Transform Plain Text into Rich Data Structures with Tana Paste

Get an inside look at Tana Paste, a simple yet powerful tool that converts plain text into versatile Tana structures like fields, tags, dates, and checkboxes.

Tana Paste is an innovative method for generating rich Tana structures such as fields, supertags, dates, checkboxes, and more through a simple plain text paste.

While it may not be the fastest solution for inputting vast amounts of data, it offers a convenient and efficient way to transform plain text into usable Tana data structures.

A Tana Paste begins with the string %%tana%%.

In the example above, I demonstrate how to create a simple meeting supertag structure using Tana Paste. First, we begin by adding the string %%tana%%, followed by a new node indicated by a hyphen (-) and the desired node type (#meeting). To add a child node, move to the next line and indent with two spaces. Then, insert another hyphen (-) to create the new node. Subsequently, we can add fields to the supertag by appending :: to each field name, followed by the corresponding field content. Once the result is pasted into Tana, we can promote the fields to our supertag template and link Ryan’s name in the node title to his personal node using the @Ryan syntax.

Syntax and Functionality

Tana Paste’s syntax is inspired by Markdown, and it features a variety of functions to create dynamic data structures:

  1. Nodes: Nodes are indicated with - at the beginning of a line, and indentation determines their children.
  2. Links: Use [[]] for links, which will search for a node in the current workspace’s Library. If no matching node exists, a new one will be created and linked.
  3. Fields: Separate field names and values with ::. Fields will be looked up by string, and if nested under a supertag with matching field names, the supertag definition’s field will take precedence.
  4. Tags: Indicate tags with # and use [[]] for multi-word tags. If a specific tag is desired, use ^ (e.g., #task^uid).
  5. Images: Use ![](https://image.url) for images.
  6. Dates: Format dates with [[date:]], such as [[March 20th, 2023]].
  7. Formatting: Apply bold, italic, and highlighted text using **bold**, __italic__, and ^^highlighted^^, respectively.
  8. Checkboxes: Indicate checked or unchecked checkboxes with [x] or [ ], respectively.
UPDATE (April 4th, 2023)
Tana released Calendars. You can now use dates ranges in Tana Paste. Below a recap on how to use dates with Tana Paste as of April 2023.
- ISO datetime [[date:2020-08-22 20:22]]
- ISO date [[date:2020-08-22]]
- ISO week [[date:2020-W08]]
- ISO month [[date:2020-08]]
- Range [[date:2020-08/2020-09]]

In the above video, we enhance the meeting supertag by adding a cover image and demonstrating the use of highlight, bold, and italics formatting. As the structure becomes more comprehensive, it’s time to explore how we can incorporate advanced features to further enrich the meeting supertag.

Advanced features

Tana Paste offers 2 advanced features to enhance your workflow:

  1. Search nodes: Add %%search%% to create search nodes, which recognize system nodes and attributes.
  2. View settings: Set the view of a node using %%view:table%%, %%view:cards%%, or %%view:tabs%%.

Since the introduction of %%search%% and %%views%% in January 2023, Tana Paste has become my go-to resource for quickly creating complex structures. While I already appreciated Tana Paste prior to these updates, the addition of search and view functionality has truly elevated its usefulness. It played a crucial role in helping me grasp how Tana operates and leverage its myriad of internal functions to their fullest potential.

Here are some examples to get you started:

- Tasks Not Done %%search%% %%view:cards%%
    - [[#task]] 
    - NOT DONE
- Tasks Overdue %%search%% %%view:cards%%
    - [[#task]] 

The addition of these two new strings for searches and views allows you to construct remarkably advanced supertag structures using plain text—which I find impressive. As Tana Paste continues to develop, it remains a robust and user-friendly solution for those eager to tap into the full potential of Tana’s versatile data management system. The future holds even more promise, and I am excited to see how Tana Paste will further evolve to enhance its capabilities.