Detailed Field Information Related Information Examples & Tutorials
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File Format Specification

This form allows you to define the specifics of your import/export routine - what and how you want to import or export. When setting up importing or exporting, you specify the type of file layout (fixed length, comma separated or other) and what records are contained in the file.

Click into the Import Record Definition list to add and modify the records and fields you want to import or export.

tip.gif To access the File Format Specification form, if you are not already viewing it, select File from the top menu bar and then select Import/Export, then choose Customize Import/Export, Edit File Format. Or, choose Edit Format from the Import menu or the Export menu.

You can choose whether the file is fixed length or comma separated (CSV) ASCII. You are also given additional options for London Bridge EDI format, which is essentially a fixed length file with a header record for verification purposes.

When importing, you can choose the records and fields to import and set a number of options. These options include whether you want the system to automatically schedule a letter and a review contact, or calculate interest automatically.

When exporting, you can specify which fields you want to export. Fixed length files are padded with spaces if you leave blank spaces in a line of data.

tip.gif Do not modify the file format samples until you are thoroughly familiar with the concepts of files and file transfers. Both sending and receiving import programs must have identical format specifications to function correctly.

Name

This is a name for the import specification. Be sure to use a name that will jog your memory. You will notice that the sample file formats have names describing their function.

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File

This is the name and path of the file to be imported. You cannot use wildcard characters. Import by default expects the files to be located in the Collect! executable directory, that is, CV11\bin. If you know that the name of the file will always be the same, you can enter the exact filename. Otherwise, leave this blank.

tip.gif You can use today's date in the file extension. If you enter "filename. @d", the system will create a file extension using today's date formed as filename MMDDYY.

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Note

Enter a description for this import specification if there is more than one file format you work with regularly. This is a free form textual area for your use.

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Fixed Length

This specifies one of two basic file formats. In this case, all information is formatted with either valid data or spaces. See the section, FIXED LENGTH DEFINED, below.

When you select a fixed length file, you are implying a number of things. For example, each field in a fixed length file has an OFFSET and a LENGTH. Some of the options in the record import definitions and field import definitions directly control how information is written to fixed length files.

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Line Width

You can optionally enter the actual width of each line. Normally fixed length files have each line separated with a carriage return (CR) or line feed (LF) character, but in some odd cases there may be other separators. In this case, the import may not work until you specifically tell it the actual width of each line of the file being imported.

Line Width is used on both importing and exporting.

On exporting fixed length records, the line width is used to pad partially filled lines.

On importing, the line width forces the read operation to read the specified number of characters, rather than freely reading up to the end of the next line.

If you import from a fixed length file and the import doesn't seem to be working, you might need to define the actual line width.

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Fixed Length Defined

This is one of two major field format conventions. Fixed Length fields are filled with spaces to a specified width. Each field has an offset from the start of the line, and a length in number of characters.

Imagine one line of the Fixed Length import file looks like this:

SMITH, FRED 10004A 10000.00 199 ESTELLINE RD.
123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890

The start of the Name field is at position 1 and the length is 24. The Number field starts at position 25 and its length is 6.

Notice how the name starts at character position 1, and there is room for a long name, although not all of the space is used with this one. The length of the name field is 24 characters.

Then the account number starts at character position 25 in the file, and is 6 characters wide.

When you import Fixed Length files, you will need to know the starting position and width of every field you want to import. This information is typically available from the person who created the file.

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Comma Separated

Comma separated files place quotes around text fields and separate fields with commas. These files are simpler to work with compared to fixed length files, as only the field order needs to be known.

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Comma Separated Defined

The data used in the fixed length file example above looks like this in a CSV format.

"SMITH,FRED","10004A",10000.00,"199 ESTELLINE RD."

Notice that numeric fields don't have quotes. Import can accept numerics with or without quotation marks.

Notice the commas separating the fields.

Notice the quotation marks around fields.

Text fields are surrounded by quotation marks, and fields are separated with commas. Also notice that blank space is eliminated, making this a more space-efficient way of transferring information.

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Column Count In CSV Imports

The field/column count is not retained across records. In reality, the count is restarted on each New record definition.

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Other

In some cases, files do not conform to fixed length or comma separated standards. For example, X12 EDI files often use [~] and [^] as field and record delimiters. In other words, some files are neither fixed length nor comma separated, and the Collect! import/export functions can still work correctly.

When you specify the OTHER file format, spaces are displayed to enter field and record delimiters.

tip.gif Please refer to Help topic, Multi Character Field Delimiters if you need to specify more than one character or HEX code in the delimiter fields.

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Field Delimiter

Enter a character that is placed between fields in the file being processed.

For example, when we created an import/export specification for an X12 EDI file we entered [ ~ ] as the field separator.

You can also enter hex codes in these locations to allow you to work with any characters. Hex codes are specified by entering xNN where the NN is a two digit number. For example, when we entered x0Dx0A, the system exported a carriage return and line feed.

tip.gif Please refer to the sections below, TAB DELIMITERS and PIPE DELIMITERS, for more information.

This field holds up to 7 characters. Collect! can read multiple HEX and character codes in a single pass. Please refer to Help topic, Multi Character Field Delimiters for details.

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Tab Delimiters

When TABS are used to separate fields in your file to be imported, there is a special hex code to indicate this. It is x09. This is entered into the Field Delimiter Field so that Collect! can determine field separations.

In your File Format Specification, choose OTHER and the Record Delimiter and Field Delimiter fields will become visible. Type in the following values.

Field delimiter: x09
Record delimiter: x0Dx0A

This would be a tab separating the fields and a carriage return and line feed separating the records. x09 is the code for the TAB character.

In your file, it might look like:

>>

A line of text in the file might look like:

120035>>3000>>56745>>etc.

This might indicate a Principal Amount of $1200.35 at 30% commission with $567.45 still owing.

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Pipe Delimiters

When PIPES are used to separate fields in your file to be imported, there is a special hex code to indicate this. It is x7C. This is entered into the Field Delimiter Field so that Collect! can determine field separations.

In your File Format Specification, choose OTHER and the Record Delimiter and Field Delimiter fields will become visible. Type in the following values.

Field delimiter x7C
Record delimiter x0Dx0A

This would be a pipe separating the fields and a carriage return and line feed separating the records. x7C is the code for the PIPE character.

In your file, it might look like:

|

A line of text in the file might look like:

120035|3000|56745|etc.

This might indicate a Principal Amount of $1200.35 at 30% commission with $567.45 still owing.

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Record Delimiter

Enter a character that is placed after each record in the file being processed.

For example, when we created an import/export specification for an X12 EDI file, we entered [ ^ ] as the record separator.

You can also enter hex codes in these locations to allow you to work with any characters. Hex codes are specified by entering xNN where the NN is a two digit number. For example, when we entered x0Dx0A, the system exported a carriage return and line feed.

tip.gif Please refer to sections above, TAB DELIMITERS and PIPE DELIMITERS for more information.

This field holds up to 7 characters. Collect! can read multiple HEX and character codes in a single pass. Please refer to Help topic, Multi Character Field Delimiters for details.

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Import Options

Clicking this button displays the control and preference switches you may choose from to govern how your import map will function. Specifically, default settings and prefilled options. Press F1 on any field to obtain greater detail on each individual field.

As of version CV11.6.2.9, a new switch was added to "Apply client settings". Check this switch if you want your preset values from the Client Setup and Advanced Client Settings screen to be passed along to the debtor files as part of the import process. Example, Commission Rates, Tax Rates, Sales ID.

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Date Format Options

The dates in the imported files can be represented in a number of ways. Selecting this control opens the Import Date Options form where you can choose from a selection of date formats. Dates are converted into the Collect! internal date format when importing.

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Import

Selecting this takes you to the Import menu form.

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Export

Selecting this takes you to the Export menu form.

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Delete

Select this to delete the highlighted item from the database.

This button is visible only on the list of all File Format Specifications.

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Edit

Select this to open and modify the highlighted item.

This button is visible only on the list of all File Format Specifications.

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New

Select this to open a new blank form where you can create a new File Format Specification.

\this button is visible only on the list of all File Format Specifications.

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Help

Press this button for help on the File Format Specification form and links to related topics.

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Cancel

Select this button to ignore any changes you may have made and then return to the previous form.

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OK

Selecting this button will save any data you have entered and return you to the previous form.

<<

Selecting this button will take you back to another record.

>>

Selecting this button will take you forward to another record.

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Records

The list of Import Record Definitions defines which record types are to be imported. The Collect! Inter Office file formats work with multiple record types in one file, but files from other sources will have only one record type.

When you transfer more than one record type, each record type requires a unique identifier. This allows the import to know which record a particular line in the file refers to.

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Order Of Record Types

The order of the record types is also important. Account record types should always come before the Contact, Transaction and Note record types. This is because Import scans each line of the file, compares the record type identifier, and creates the record after reading the fields and checking for duplicates. Since, for example, Transactions belong to an Account record, you need to save the Account record before you attempt to save Transactions belonging to that Account.

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See Also

- How To Use Import/Export
- Import Menu
- Export Menu
- Import Record Definition
- Import Field Definitions
- Import/Export Topics

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