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How To Create A Single Record Import Map

Collect!'s import module is a very powerful tool for importing data into Collect! from other databases, instantly giving you all that valuable information at your fingertips within the Collect! program. This process requires an import map. To get you started, this document steps through the creation of a simple single record import map. It is necessary that you are familiar with the use of Collect!'s Client and Debtor screens.

For this example, we will import data into Collect! using a *.csv file. If you are not familiar with *.csv files, we would recommend someone who is knowledgeable is the area. (i.e. technician or co-worker)

Before proceeding, please create a test Client in the DEMODB database so that we can import debtors to it.

The file containing the data to import must be in a format that the importing function can read. A consistent, accurate file is necessary. In our example, the *.csv file is used. 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. Each row in the file is a separate record. We will use the debtorcsv.csv file for this example. You can find this file in the Import folder of your Collect! application, (e.g. C:\CV11\Import) If you do not have this file in your Import folder, please download the sample imports from our Member Center before proceeding.

Download Import Samples

Please open the sample debtorcsv.csv file in MS Excel and take a look at it. The first row contains the names of sixteen fields in Collect! in the Debtor form. We will use these names later on when we build the import map.


CSV Sample File Viewed In Notepad

The sample debtorcsv.csv file is simply a text file. However, when you open it in MS Excel, each field becomes its own column. This is because the comma is read as a flag to alert MS Excel that this is a new field. This same thing occurs internally in Collect! when the import function reads this file. It knows where a field begins by looking for the next comma. (If there is a comma in the field data, the whole field is enclosed in quotes, for example, "Aubin, Kevin", the Debtor's Name field.)


CSV Sample File Viewed In MS Excel

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

Import Map Exercise

Please perform this exercise in your DEMODB Database.

In a Collect! database, records have "owners." This is very important to consider when you are creating an import routine. Owners are imported before the records that they own. For instance, Debtors are owned by Clients. For our example, please create a Client record in your DEMODB database. We will import debtors and attach them to this client.

Let's begin our exercise by building an import map to bring the new debtors listed in the debtorcsv.csv file into your database.

1. Sign into Collect! and stop at the Main Menu. Select File from the top menu bar and a drop-down list of choices will display. Select Import/Export from the list. A submenu of choices will be displayed.

2. From the Import/Export submenu, select Customize Import/Export and then select Edit File Format. This will display a list of import map examples that are already in your database.

3. Press F3 or select the New button to open a new File Format Specification form to use for our import map.

4. Type Debtor Import Sample in the field labeled Name.

5. Type *.* in the field labeled File.

6. Type Import debtor information in the field labeled Note.

7. Make sure the radio button labeled Comma separated has a dot in it. (You can select this with your mouse or press your spacebar.) Press F1 for information about the other choices on this form. We won't be using any other fields for this exercise.

8. Select the Import Options button to display the Import Options form. Make sure the check box labeled First line contains labels has a check mark in it. (You can select this with your mouse or press your spacebar.)


Import Options Dialog

9. While we are here, it is a good idea to always assign an operator to the accounts you are importing. You might even create a special IMP operator solely for this purpose. When we discuss "Default Values" later on, we will explain the reasons for this a bit more detail.

Select the OK button to close the form and return to the File Format Specification form.


File Format Specification Form

10. Click your mouse in the Import Record Definition subform to activate it, or press F5. You will be prompted to create a record definition.

11. Select Yes to create our first Record Definition.

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Record Definition For Debtor Record

You should now be looking at a new Import Record Definition form. We are going to create a Record Definition for the Debtor record because we are importing Debtors.

1. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Record. You will see the list of all types of records that you can import using the import module.

2. Choose Debtor from the Record Type list. You will be prompted to include all the fields from the Debtor form. Select No to refrain from entering all the fields from the Debtor form into your import map.


Record Definition Form

3. Click your mouse in the Import Field Specification subform to activate it, or press F5. You will be prompted to create your first field specification. Select Yes to create the specifications for the fields we want to include.

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Field Specifications For Debtor Fields

We are going to import information into fields in the Debtor form. We will need a Field Specification for each field. Each field specification will match a field name on the Debtor form. If you are unsure which fields we are choosing, please look at the Debtor form.

tip.gif In the sample *.csv file, as explained above, the data for each field is separated by a comma.

1. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field. This will display a list of all the fields in the Debtor form that you could include in your import map. Scroll through the Field Type list and select Acct. You will be returned to the File Specification form and Acct will be displayed in the field labeled Field.

2. In the field labeled Note, type Debtor Account Number. This is the name of the field you are importing. What you enter here does not get imported. It is for your reference only.

tip.gif When you view the sample debtorcsv.csv file in MS Excel, you will notice that each column header is an Alpha character. You could use these alpha characters in your Note fields when building your field specifications. For instance, the Note field for the Acct field specification could read A - Debtor Account Number. This would make it easy to find the exact field when you are looking at your sample in MS Excel.


Field Specifications for Debtor Account Number

tip.gif If we were going to update existing debtors, we would make sure to select the check box labeled Use as key to find existing. Then the import routine would only create a new debtor if the account number did not already exist in the database. Please leave this without a check mark for our exercise.

3. Press F3 to display a blank Import Field Specification form for the next field.

tip.gif If you need to go back or forward to another import field, select the << or >> button or select the OK button and then select the field in the Import Field Specification subform.

4. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field. You will see a list of all the fields you can choose from.

5. Select Name from the Field Type list.


Field Specifications for Debtor Name

tip.gif For advanced ways of importing into the field labeled Name on the Debtor form, please look at the Name Examples in the list of File Format Specifications.

6. In the field labeled Note, type Debtor Name or B - Debtor Name. This is the name of the field you are importing.

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

8. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field.

9. Select Contact from the Field Type list.

10. In the field labeled Note, type Debtor Contact or C - Debtor Contact. This is the name of the field you are importing.

This is the process for creating the field specification for each field. Look at the sample file in MS Excel so that you can see the remaining fields. For each field, repeat the process below, until you get to the column named Date of Birth.

  • Press F3 to display a blank Import Field Specification form
  • Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field
  • Select the field name from the Field Type list
  • In the field labeled Note, type the name of the field you are importing. For easy reference, include the column letter from MS Excel.

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Date Formats

tip.gif Always make sure that the Date Options are set correctly when importing dates.

Date formats must be set prior to importing, as these have a bearing on how the Date information is formatted. So when you create a field specification for a Date field, (i.e. DOB, Charged Date, or Delinquent Date), the Import Field Date Format must be correctly filled out to match the way the dates are formatted in the raw data file. For instance, in our sample *.csv file, the date format is mmddyyyy (6/12/2000). We have to specify this in the specification for this field.

tip.gif View the debtorcsv.csv file in Notepad or Ultra Edit to see the format of the dates and currency fields. MS Excel may be set to automatically format these types of data for you, and you may not be seeing the true format of the raw data.

When you get to Date of Birth in your field specifications,

1. Press F3 to display a blank Import Field Specification form.

2. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field. This will display a list of all the fields you can choose.

2. Select DOB from the Field Type list.

3. Type Date of Birth or J - Date of Birth in the field labeled Note.

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

5. Make sure the radio button labeled MMDDYY is selected with a dot.

6. Make sure the check box labeled Day Leading Zero (05 vs 5) is selected with a check mark.

7. Make sure the check box labeledMonth Leading Zero (03 vs 3) is selected with a check mark.

8. Make sure the check box labeled Century(1995 vs 95) is selected with a check mark.

9. Type a forward slash [ / ] in the box labeledDate Separator.

10 Select the OK button to save the information.


Date Formatting Settings

11. Continue to add the other fields from the debtorcsv.csv file to your specifications following the same basic steps.

  • Press F3 to display a blank Import Field Specification form
  • Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field
  • Select the field name from the Field Type list
  • In the field labeled Note, type the name of the field you are importing. For easy reference, include the column letter from MS Excel.

Make sure you set the Date Options when you get to the other Date fields, i.e., Charged Date and Delinquent Date.

tip.gif Stop when you get to the column named Principal. Do not enter it yet. We will enter it in the Currency Formats section below.

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Currency Formats

Usually money amounts already exist with their decimal placements, as you will see in our sample. If they do not, you would set a value using the Multiple by field on the Import Field Specification for the money field.

When importing money amounts, we have to be careful of where we are placing them in Collect!. Values in certain fields may affect other data fields. For this sample, we are using Principal. You may think that it is correct to choose Principal from the Field Type list to put this value in the Principal field on the Debtor form. This is correct in a sense. However, Collect! actually gets the Principal amount from the Original Principal field in the Financial Detail form and then displays this in the Principal field on the Debtor form.

1. We should be on a blank form. If not, press F3. Choose Original Principal from the field list.

2. If your *.csv file had the decimal stripped from the money amount, you would also fill in 0.01 in the field labeled Multiply By. However, this is not needed in this exercise.

3. You should now have a field in the map for each field/column in MS Excel, in the same order.

tip.gif To make sure you have all the fields, you can select the << or >> button to go forward or back through fields, or select the OK button to view the Import Field Specification list. Use your Up/Down arrow keys to scroll through this list.

In addition to these fields, we will set a few default values in our import map.

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Default Values

Up to now, to keep this exercise simple, we have only referenced fields in the debtorcsv.csv and related them to fields in Collect!. Sometimes, you will want to set default values for other fields as you import records.

Previously we mentioned assigning an operator in the Import Options so that accounts will have an operator as soon as they are imported.


Import Options with Operator IMP Assigned

This is useful for quickly identifying newly imported accounts and for running contact plans or operator assignment batches on the new accounts.

Also, when importing debtors, you may want to set the Debtor Address OK switch to ON, set the Debtor Mode to Active, and set the Debtor Status to New. Setting these defaults is a very good idea whenever you import debtors. We will set them now.

You should have a blank Import Field Specification form in front of you. If not, press F3.

1. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field and select Mode from the Field Type list.

2. Type Set Mode = Active in the field labeled Note.

3. Type Active in the field labeled Fill Value.


Setting Default Value for Debtor Mode

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

5. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field and select Status from the Field Type list.

6. Type Set Status to New in the field labeled Note.

7. Type New in the field labeled Fill Value.

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Default Values For Switches

Here's how to turn ON a switch, such as the Address OK setting, when you run an import.

1. Press F3 to display a blank Import Field Specification form for the next field.

2. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Field and select Address OK from the Field Type list.

3. Type Set Address OK in the field labeled Note.

4. Type X in the field labeled Fill Value. This indicates that the switch is switched ON.

This method can be used whenever you want to set the value of a switch in your import. A switch means any place in Collect! where you mark your choice with a check mark.

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Skipping Fields In The Data File

Sometimes you will want to import all the data, except for a field or two. In this case, you can skip over the fields in your raw file by creating an empty Import Field Specification form as a space holder.

  • Leave the field labeled Field empty
  • Fill in the field labeled Note so that you know which field you are skipping
  • If you need to skip more than one field, make a blank form at each location where you are skipping a field

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Finishing Up

Select the OK button, or press F8, to save your settings and exit the Import Field Specification form. You will now notice a list of all your field specifications in the Import Field Specification list.


List of Field Specifications

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


List of Record Definitions

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Try Out The Import Map

When you are building an import routine, it is a good idea to test it at various stages. Let's try out what we have designed so far. 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. Select the Import button. The Import Menu is displayed.

2. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled File Format. The File Format Specification list is displayed. Our Debtor Sample is a new item in this list.

3. Select Debtor Import Sample. Now this is displayed in the field labeled File Format.

4. Select the Browse button next to the field labeled File Name and navigate to the location of the debtorcsv.csv.

tip.gif It should be in the Import folder of your Collect! application. (e.g. C:\CV11\Import)

5. Select debtorcsv.csv and select the Open button. Now the file and its location will be displayed in the field labeled File Name.


Import Menu Dialog

6. Select the Down arrow next to the field labeled Client. This will display the list of all your clients. Select the client that that you set up for this test. Now this client is displayed in the field labeled Client.

7. Select 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 second line in your *.csv file. Each separate line is treated as a complete record. It is the second line because we skipped the first line, the column labels. This is a result of selecting the check box labeled First line contains labels in the Import Options, way back at the beginning of this exercise.

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


Prompts in the Status Bar When Importing A Debtor

tip.gif You may have to auto hide your Windows taskbar if it is hiding the status bar in Collect!.

You have four choices:

Yes [y] accepts the record, imports it and displays the next record ready to import.

No [n] refuses the record, skips it and displays the next record ready to import.

All [a] runs the whole import with no more prompts.

Cancel [c] aborts the importing routine. Whatever you accepted up to this point is imported.

tip.gif Once an import begins, these are your only choices. We will always choose one of these letters. Clicking on the screen with your mouse may cause import issues. This is not an active form, but rather a snapshot for you to verify.

3. Press the y key on your keyboard to accept the record.

tip.gif If we had not switched ON First line contains labels when we set our import options, the label record would appear first. Here is what the label record would have looked like.


Label Record

Thus, we would have pressed the n key for NO, to refuse this record and move on to the next.

4. The third record will now appear, actually, our second debtor. Press the y key to accept this debtor as well.

5. The fourth record now appears. We are comfortable with this data, so we will press the a key to accept all.

6. After the data has been imported, a summary window will appear.

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.

7. Select the OK button on the Summary Report.


Summary Report

8. You will be prompted to Recalculate the Debtors. If you imported dollar amounts (which we did), select the Yes button.

tip.gif If you do not recalculate, you can always do it after the import. Select Tools from the top menu bar and a list of choices is displayed. Select Recalculate from the list.

9. After recalcing, Collect! will prompt to Sort the Debtors. This is up to you, but most clients do.

10. If you selected Yes, Collect! will prompt you to choose your sort order. The choices are by Name or by Account.

11. After the import, close the window and check out the new debtors to make sure the data is correct.

tip.gif If you find that the import overwrites data, check your import map. Overwriting may occur if you have the field labeled Use as key switched ON with a check mark in a field specification. This switch will cause overwriting if a match is found. Consider turning OFF all 'Use as key' fields

tip.gif If for any reason, you decide to re-import, make sure you delete the debtors you just imported.

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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 Demo database or a copy of your Masterdb database
  • Never run your import on your 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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