Tinderbox Forum

Second Brain(PKM) with Tinderbox . Step 1 - Quick Capture with Whatsapp

Hello All ,

With all the PKM fad out there , I’m confident , once my notes reach TB they would be taken care of, with that being said , challenge was how to get my notes INTO TB , easily and in a way it can scale?

I’m aware everyone loves Drafts, but it’s not something I adore, but what I do love is Whatsapp , I use it for my personal and professional work , multi hours per day . With Meta opening it’s API for us mere mortals, I contacted few companies and was able to set up the integration .

Advantages of this technique

  • I can forward messages , files , pictures and videos & get hosted links. From TB perspective , I simply use these links to work with media , export is infinitely easier . With CSV I can get them as set attributes easily
  • Inbuilt annotations are available on images and videos.
  • Whatsapp is the de-facto standard in India , and it’s easier to quickly get info from others , and forward it
  • You can capture notes even when Offline.


  • It’s FB !! Privacy goodbye but you can use slack , telegram to achieve the same.

How I achieved this

  • I used messagebird.com
  • I can now send a message and with web hook magic , the message arrives into a google sheet. See a small example HERE → Box
  • With a developer from Fiverr, the each row is now converted into CSV file , see examples here of these Individual CSV HERE
  • Use Gdrive to sync all files to local Mac
  • Using Watched folder , the hope was to ingest into TB, this step is currently failing TB don’t like CSV and exploding
  • I’m aware I can easily drag and drop a CSV every night but I’d love this to be automated in someway
  • TB Gods what to do next?

Side Notes - NON PKM Usage

I and 3 other seniors in my company are using this technique from over a month to convert Whatsapp Messages into a single giant Google Sheet , our assistant check these sheets every few hour and assign work from these sheet to Juniors and other people in Org

Just my personal take - but I would open the CSV in an intermediate app, clean it up and “prepare” it for import into Tbx. By this I mean - name the columns properly, ensure that all the data is correctly entered, deal with special characters, and populate Comments, Tags, and other similar Attribute values.

I would consider not that you have to do this task manually every day, but that by daily monitoring of the files you allow INTO your Tbx project, you are potentially saving time down the road in dealing with Note proliferation. This is what I do, and it works well for me.

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@archurhh , thanks ! I can anyways talk to developer to remove all the non required field , this is simply v0.

Yes I considered that option. However, there are also other subtle things you can add to your incoming data that only humanz would.

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Having downloaded the CSV with the eye-searingly unhelpful names, and presuming Whatsapp hasn’t any meaningful export configurations, I’d use a command line to replace line #1 of the CSV with column heads representing sensible Tinderbox attribute names.

It’s worth reflecting that watch folders are not a synch process but rather an import/review measure. The two are not the same.

Were it me I would:

  • export form WhatsApp to a staging folder
  • run a command line or script on the file to set sensible column heads, i.e Tinderbox attribute names
  • drag drop the SCSV to Tinderbox—if—I want a note per non-heading source file row.

A part of this is the conceit that faster/fewer steps is always better. That case is not always true.

If I wanted to judge, I’d note that if Whatsapp (which I don’t have, so can’t test) doesn’t allow you to define the export headers then it’s a bit amateur. Then again, free apps don’t waste money on feature their users don’t pay for [sic].

The point of the last is that Tinderbox ‘failing’ to deal with the input is actually a reflection on the inabilities of the source app. Tinderbox will import well-formed CSV but if the CSV headers are poorly chosen, that’s something to fix pre-import.

Garbage out … garbage in.

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Thank you for the feedback !

I’ve gone ahead and started doing 1 import end of day with CSV, allowing better manual control of what’s going inside.

I’ve also gone ahead and stripped the CSV file of all the extra headings to bare minimum :slight_smile:

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If Whatsapp exports more columns than you need, you can use a command line utility like awk to remove the unwanted columns then tail to remove the header row and cat to attach a new one. Or if you prefer some UI, you could use an Automator script.

Another tip, from experience of doing TSV/CSV imports. First do an import to create the new attributes from the data’s header row. Then delete that data and review the new attributes. set the correct data type (if not already so) and any default values, e.g. for imported records with no value in that cell.

More here and here.

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