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“ Everything you need is right there on the Debtor screen ” Frank S.

How To Create An Import Map

This document will step you through the creation of a simple multiple record import map. It requires familiarity with the use of Collect!'s Client, Debtor and Transaction forms.

Collect!'s import module is a very powerful tool for importing and exporting data between Collect! and other databases. The import process uses an import map and a file that contains data to import. The file to import must be in a format that the importing function can read.

For this example, we will use a *.csv file to import data into Collect!. This is a straightforward, "comma separated" file. This means that each piece of data (field) is separated from the next by a comma. This makes it easy for the parsing mechanism to determine where a field ends and the next field begins. A consistent accurate file is necessary.

tip.gif If your file is not a *.csv file, you may be able to open it in Excel and save it as a *.csv file. Sometimes, this is necessary for cleaning up the data before the import routine is started.

Let's assume that you have a *.csv file to import. Create a sample *.csv file as follows to use for this exercise.

CSV Sample File

In Ultra Edit or Notepad, create the following file and save it as "sample.csv" file. Take note of the path of where you save it as we have to locate it later. Example: save to your Desktop if your network permissions allow or to a shared folder accessible on your network.

"Client Name","Debtor Name","Charged","Principal Amount"," Payment Date","Payment Amount"
"Ernst Co.","Smith","01/01/2001","1000","04/01/2001","10"
"Fred's Co.","Aaron","03/01/2001","2000","05/01/2001","200"

You will notice that this is simply a text file. However, if you open it in MS Excel, each "field" will become its own column. This is because the comma is read as a flag to alert MS Excel that this is a new field. This is the same thing that happens internally in Collect! when the import function reads this file. It knows when the fields change by looking for the next comma.

Pay special attention to the first line of this file. These are the names of the fields in each record. Although these fields are linear, in Collect! they actually represent several records that are in a hierarchical (tree) structure. The first field, "Client Name", will be imported to the Client record. The next three fields, "Debtor Name", "Charged", and "Principal Amount" will be imported to the Debtor record. The last two fields, "Payment Date" and "Payment Amount" will be imported to the Transaction record.

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

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Record Hierarchy

In a Collect! database, records have "owners." This determines the hierarchy of the data. For instance, Debtors are owned by Clients. Transactions are owned by Debtors. This is very important to consider when you are creating an import routine. It is used in your import map design and will control how data is imported and connected to the proper record. Owners are imported before the records that they own. In our sample, clients are imported before debtors and debtors are imported before transactions.

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Import Clients

In our example, the "highest" field in the hierarchy is the Client Name, since Clients own Debtors. The rest of the information to be imported is at the Debtor and Transaction level.

So, let's begin our exercise by building an import map to bring these new clients into your database.

Please perform this exercise in your demonstration database!

1. Sign into Collect! and stop at the Main Menu. Select File from the top menu bar and then select Import/Export from the drop-down choices. This will display the Import/Export submenu.

2. From the Import/Export submenu, select Customize Import/Export, then select Edit File Format. You may see a list of import map examples that are already in your database, especially if you are performing this exercise from the demonstration database, as recommended.

3. Press F3 to open a new form for our import map.

4. Type CSV Sample in the field labeled Name.

5. Select 'Comma separated'. You can press F1 for help on the fields in this form. We will not use any of the others for this exercise.

6. Click into the Import Record Definition subform to activate it or press F5.

7. Choose 'Yes' to create our first Record Definition.

We are going to create a Client record definition since Clients own Debtors. To attach imported Debtors to the right Client, we have to import the Clients first. Then the import routine will be able to attach the Debtors correctly, later on in our example.

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Client Record Definition

In this simple example, we are only going to import the Client Name. In an actual import map, you may have to import other client information as well. You should now be looking at the Import Record Definition form.


Import Record Definition form

1. Click the down arrow next to the field labeled Record to view the pick list. You will see the list of all types of records that you can import and export using the import module. Remember that at any time, you can press F1 for details about the form or list you are viewing.

2. Choose Client from the Record Type list. Choose 'No' to refrain from entering all the fields from the Client form into your import map.

3. Click into the Import Field Specification subform or press F5. Choose 'Yes' to create the specifications for the fields that we want to enter. In our example, we only have one field from the Client form - the Name field.

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Client Name Field Specification

We are only importing the Client Name in our example, so we only need one Field Specification.

1. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field. You will see the list of all types of fields from the Client form that you can import and export using the import module.

2. Choose Name from the Field Type list. The list of fields depends on the type of record you are defining. Later on, when we setup the import map for debtors, you will notice different choices displayed in the Field Type list.

3. Switch ON Use as key to find existing. Press F1 for help explaining the use of this important setting.

4. Next, select Import Options. Switch ON First line contains labels with a check mark. Select OK to close the Import Options form.

5. Select OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Field Format Specification form.

6. Select OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Import Record Definition form. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form.

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Try Out The Import Map

Let's try out what we have designed so far. It is a good idea when you are building a routine, to test it at various stages. This will confirm that it is behaving as you expect and you can build the next part confidently.

1. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form. Click on the Import button. The Import menu is displayed.

2. Click on the down arrow next to the File Format field. The File Format Specification list is displayed. Our Csv Sample is a new item in this list.

3. Select Csv Sample.

4. Select the Browse button next to the File Name field and navigate to the location where you saved sample.csv.

5. Select sample.csv and select OK.

6. Press the Import button. You will see the first record that is being imported.

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Examining Records As They Are Imported

When you import records, it is very important to examine the results that you are getting. For this reason, the import routine pauses as each record is imported. This gives you an opportunity to refuse the record, cancel the import or proceed.

1. You are now looking at the first record being imported. As you can see, it is the very first line in your CSV file. Each separate line is treated as a complete record.

2. Notice at the bottom of the Collect! screen that you are being prompted for a response. In white letters, you will see 'Add Client? (Yes/No/All/Cancel)' Do not choose anything yet!

You have four choices:

Yes: [y] accepts the record.

No: [n] refuses the record.

All: [a] runs the whole import without any more prompts.

Cancel: [c] aborts the importing routine.

3. The record that you are looking at is the first actual line with data in our sample.csv. The line containing field headings was skipped because we switched ON First line contains labels."

4. We want to accept this, so choose 'Yes' by pressing the y key on your keyboard.

5. Press the y key on your keyboard to accept the next record as well. You will now see a summary of the import results.

6. Notice that two clients have been imported.

tip.gif If this were a real import routine, you would probably want to examine a few more records in this fashion before pressing the a key to allow the import to carry on automatically without your assistance.

Select Browse from the top menu bar and then select 'Clients' from the drop-down choices. Locate and delete the two records that we imported to prepare for the next part of this exercise.

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Import Debtors

Now we will create a record definition for the Debtor fields and add it to our import routine. Be sure you have removed the two imported clients from the list of all clients, before you proceed. We will enter them again when we run this part of the import.

1. At the Main Menu, select File from the top menu bar and then select Import/Export from the drop-down choices. This will display an Import/Export submenu.

2. From the Import/Export submenu, select Customize Import/Export, Edit File Format. You will see a list of import map examples that includes our CSV Sample.

3. Select the CSV Sample item to open the import map that we are working on.

4. Notice that Client is an item in the Import Record Definition subform. We will add a new record definition for Debtors.

5. Press F5 to activate the Import Record Definition subform.

6. Press F3 to create a display a new blank Import Record Definition form.

In the record hierarchy, our next level is Debtors. Debtors are owned by Clients and we have created a Client Import Record Definition already. In turn, Debtors own transactions, attachments, contacts, and notes. In our simple exercise, the information we are import mapping at this stage is for fields on the Debtor form.

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Debtor Record Definition

You should now be looking at a new Import Record Definition form.

1. Click the down arrow next to the field labeled Record to view the pick list. You will see the list of all types of records that you can import and export using the import module.

2. Select Debtor from the Record Type list. Choose 'No' to refrain from entering all the fields from the Debtor form into your import map.

3. Click into the Import Field Specification subform or press F5. Choose 'Yes' to create the specifications for the fields that we want to enter.

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Debtor Field Specifications

We are importing three fields in the Debtor form - Name, Charged and Principal. We will need a Field Specification for each one. It is also necessary to make sure that the import map knows that Debtor information starts in the SECOND column of our sample.csv. To do this, we will enter a BLANK field specification for the first field.

1. When you are looking at the new blank Field Format Specification form, press F3. This will save a blank Field Specification to your Import Field Specification list to allow for the Client Name in the sample.csv file.

2. You will be looking at a new blank Field Format Specification form. Click the down arrow next to the field labeled Field to view the pick list. You will see the list of all types of fields from the Debtor form that you can import and export using the import module.

3. Select 'Name' from the Field Type list. Notice that this Field Type list now contains all the fields that you can use from the Debtor form whereas previously, it contained fields from the Client form.

4. Press F3 to display a blank Field Format Specification form for the next field.

5. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field.

6. Choose 'Charged' from the Field Type list.

7. Press F3 to display a blank Field Format Specification form for the next field.

8. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field.

9. Choose 'Principal' from the Field Type list.

tip.gif If we were adding other fields from the Debtor form, we would continue these steps until we had created a Field Format Specification for each one of the fields as needed.

Select OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Field Format Specification form. You will now notice a list of field specifications in the Import Field Specification list. The first item should be a blank line to allow for the Client Name in the sample.csv file.


Debtor Import Record Definition

Click OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Import Record Definition form. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form.

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Try Out The Import Map Again

Let's try out what we have designed so far.

1. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form. Select the Import button. The Import menu is displayed.

2. Click on the down arrow next to the File Format field. The File Format Specification list is displayed. Our CSV Sample is the newest item in this list.

3. Select CSV Sample.

4. Select the Browse button next to the File Name field and navigate to the location where you saved sample.csv.

5. Select sample.csv and select OK.

6. Press the Import button. You will see the first record that is being imported.

Please refer back to the section "Examining Records As They Are Imported" details about this procedure.

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Examining Debtor Records As They Are Imported

The import routine differs now that you have a debtor record definition. Each time the import function encounters a client, it will then begin to enter debtors for the client. You will be prompted when each new record is imported. Use the prompts to view each record as it is imported so that you can watch the procedure. Do not choose 'All' during this exercise.

When the routine is completed and the summary is shown, select OK. Choose 'No' when asked to Recalculate Debtors. Choose 'No' when asked to Sort Debtors.

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Viewing The Imported Records

Collect! tags all records as they are imported. Therefore, you can quickly view all the records that were just imported.

1. Select Browse from the top menu bar and then select 'All Debtors' from the drop-down choices. The list of all debtors is displayed.

2. Select Edit from the top menu bar and then select 'View Tags' from the drop-down choices. Now you are looking at all the records that you just imported.

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Transaction Information

The final part of this import exercise deals with importing transaction information. You will notice in our sample.csv that the last two fields contain information from transactions. Debtors own transactions in our record hierarchy. So we will create an Import Record Definition for transactions as our final exercise.

Once again, it is necessary to delete the information that we imported so that we can start with a fresh experiment.

So please locate the debtors that were entered and delete them. Then delete the clients that were entered.

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Import Transactions

Now we will create a record definition for the Transaction fields and add it to our import routine. Be sure to remove the clients and debtors that we imported before you proceed. We will enter them again when we run this part of the import.

1. At the Main Menu, select File from the top menu bar and then select Import/Export from the drop-down choices. This will display the Import/Export submenu.

2. From the Import/Export submenu, select Customize Import/Export, then select Edit File Format. You will see a list of import map examples that includes our CSV Sample.

3. Select the CSV Sample item to open the import map that we are working on.

4. Notice Client and Debtor in the Import Record Definition subform. We will add a new record definition for Transactions.

5. Press F5 to activate the Import Record Definition subform.

6. Press F3 to create a display a new blank Import Record Definition form.

In the record hierarchy, our next level is Transactions. Transactions are owned by Debtors. The information we are import mapping at this stage is from fields on the Transaction form.

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Transaction Record Definition

You should now be looking at a new Import Record Definition form.

1. Click the down arrow next to the 'Record' field. You will see the list of all types of records that you can import and export using the import module.

2. Choose Transaction from the Record Type list. Choose 'No' to refrain from entering all the fields from the Transaction form into your import map.

3. Click into the Import Field Specification subform or press F5. Choose 'Yes' to create the specifications for the fields that we want to enter.

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Transaction Field Specifications

In our sample file, there are two fields from the Transaction form - Payment Date and Payment Amount. We will build the specifications for these fields now. We will need a Field Specification for each one. It is also necessary to make sure that the import map knows that Transaction information starts in the FIFTH column of our sample.csv. To do this, we will enter FOUR BLANK field specifications to skip over the fields in the Client and Debtor form.

1. When you are looking at the new blank Field Format Specification form, press F3. This will save a blank Field Specification to your Import Field Specification list to allow for the Client Name in the sample.csv file. Press F3 three more times to allow for the Debtor fields.

2. You will be looking at a new blank Field Format Specification form. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field. You will see the list of all types of fields from the Transaction form that you can import and export using the import module.

3. Choose 'Payment Date' from the Field Type list. Notice that this Field Type list now contains all the fields that you can use from the Transaction form.

4. Select the Date Options button to open the Import Field Date Format dialog.

5. Enter the following settings for your date options:

Select MMDDYY.

Switch ON Day leading zero.

Switch ON Month leading zero.

Place a [/] in Date separator.

tip.gif Press F1 for help on the fields and format selections available on this form.

When you are finished, select the OK button to close the form and return to the field's specification form.

6. Press F3 to display a blank Field Format Specification form for the next field.

7. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field.

8. Choose 'To Us' from the Field Type list. For this exercise, we will assume that this is an ordinary Payment to a Net account.

9. Press F3 to open a new Field Format Specification form for a default value that we will create next.

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Default Values

Up to now, to keep this exercise simple, we have only referenced fields that come from our sample.csv and relate to fields in Collect!. Sometimes, you will want to set default values for other fields as you import records. For instance, you may want to sent the Debtor Mode to Active when you import Debtors. Right now, we have to give our transactions a default type since this is not contained in the sample.csv and all transactions in Collect! must have a type.

1. You should be looking at a new blank Field Format Specification form. We are still defining our Transaction Import Record Definition. However, we are now going "beyond" the fields in the sample.csv to reference fields in the Transaction form in Collect!

2. Click the down arrow next to the 'Field' field.

3. Choose 'Type' from the Field Type list. For this exercise, we are assuming that this is an ordinary Payment.

4. In the field labeled Default value, type in "101" which is Payment By Check.

5. Select OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Field Format Specification form. You will now notice a list of field specifications in the Import Field Specification list. The first four items should be blank to allow for the Client and Debtor fields in the sample.csv file.


Transaction Import Record Definition

In the next screen shot, we have scrolled down in the list to show the last three items, including our default value.


Default Values In Field Specifications

6. Select OK or press F8 to save your settings and exit the Import Record Definition form. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form. Notice that the three record definitions are now listed in the Import Record Definition subform in the order in which we want to import them (according to the record hierarchy we spoke about before.)


File Format Specification form

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Run The Import

Now we are ready to run the completed import routine.

1. You should be looking at the File Format Specification form. Click on the Import button. The Import menu is displayed.

2. Click on the down arrow next to the File Format field. The File Format Specification list is displayed. Our Csv Sample is a new item in this list.

3. Select CSV Sample.

4. Select the Browse button next to the File Name field and navigate to the location where you saved sample.csv.

5. Select sample.csv and select OK.

6. Press the Import button. You will see the first record that is being imported.

Please refer back to the section "Examining Records As They Are Imported" for details about this procedure.

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Examining All Records As They Are Imported

The import routine differs once again now that we have three level of records from our record hierarchy being imported at once.

Each time the import function encounters a client, it will then begin to enter debtors for the client.

Each time the import function encounters a debtor, it will then begin to enter transactions for the debtor.

You will be prompted when each new record is imported. Use the prompts to view each record as it is imported so that you can watch the procedure. Do not choose 'All' during this exercise.

When the routine is completed and the summary is shown, select OK. Choose 'No' when asked to Recalculate Debtors. Choose 'No' when asked to Sort Debtors. You can view the imported debtors as described above.

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Import Settings Optional Switches

If you are wondering which optional switches you should set for a field in your import map, do not set any to start with. Only add fancy stuff after you have a functioning framework. Start small with the first record and only expand after that is working correctly. This is Logic 101, and you must prove each step in the equation as you build it.

For instance, for the settings "must be filled" and "fail cancels field", accept the defaults unless you really must choose these settings.

As for "preserve existing" and "append with spaces" and other settings in the field specifications, don't add these without a basic working frame in place. Personally, I wouldn't set any append flag on a city field for example. Do you really want two city names, one after the other?

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Summary

You have just completed your first import! Although we imported a simplified file, you have successfully completed all the major steps to an actual import routine. As you can see, taking this step by step in the correct order, you can quickly and accurately bring volumes of data into your database.

Remember to start simple and test your results along the way.

Always test your import map on a sample database or a copy of your masterdb.

Never run your import on a live database until you are sure it is performing correctly in every area

Backup your database before importing records into it

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See Also

- Import/Export Topics

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