Detailed Field Information Related Information Examples & Tutorials
Want to learn more? View the Training Videos in the Collect! Member Resource Center to learn the inside tips on utilizing all that Collect! has to offer to optimize your company's efficiency.
“ I use many vendors in my business and there is only one that I would never consider changing and that is Collect! ” Norma B.

Import Field Specification

The Import Field Specification defines which field is imported, and how it is processed before being imported.

For example, you can use a field as a key, to check for existing records and avoid duplication.

You could specify that a field is required, so that no new record is created unless the field contains some data. You can also append incoming data into a single field in the database. Numerous options are available that provide significant flexibility for importing.

For each record type, you must specify the fields imported. When you pick a Record in the Import Record definition form, you will have to tell Import which fields from that Record Type are on the line being read in, and where they are.


Pick from the list of fields belonging to the Record Type you are importing.

To skip a field in CSV files, leave the field blank. The field imported will be skipped.

If you enter a default value when exporting, you don't need to specify a field. The default value will be sent to the export file.

Exercise care to choose the correct field name in the list. In some record type field lists, there may be multiple fields with the same name. Example: in the Debtor Record there is a Driver's License field intended to hold the entire DL # for the debtor which appears first in the fields to choose from. Further down in the list of fields, a second "DL" is referenced and this one is a 1 character field belonging to the Group Member fields to indicate by a check box being ON or OFF for cascade field sharing.

Top of page.

Use As Key To Find Existing

This switch allows Import to test whether a record already exists.

If the record already exists in the database, imported data will update existing data unless the "Preserve Existing Data" is set for a field.

If the record does not already exist, it will be created, and field values will be filled in from the imported data or default values. If Inhibit Autocreate is switched on, the record will not be created.

The "Use as key to find existing" switch can be set for any number of the fields being imported. This allows us to perform complex comparisons.

For example, we may be importing transactions and want to ensure that we don't create duplicate transactions. We would then set the "Use as key to find existing" switch on the transaction date, type and amount fields. This would cause Import to first check if a transaction record exists which contains identical date AND type AND amounts. If it finds one with those matching fields, it will not add the transaction in the import file to the database.

If, however, no transaction record with those specific fields is found, a new transaction will be created in the database, which contains the information in the imported record. If Inhibit Autocreate is switched on, the record will not be created.

tip.gif Fields from related records do not need to have this switch set. It searches for matching owner records automatically.

Top of page.

Inhibit Autocreate

If the record does not already exist, it will NOT be created when the Inhibit Autocreate is switched ON. If you want a record to be created, and field values filled in from the imported data or default values, leave this switched OFF.

Top of page.

Skip Subrecords If Key Not Found

Switch this ON to skip subrecords when the debtor doesn't exist. Then, subsequent record types in the import are skipped and the import moves on to import the next valid record. This must be switched ON in the same field specification that you are using to key on, that is, where you have also switched ON 'Use as key to find existing'.

Top of page.

Skip If Record Found

Switch this ON to skip matching records. Ensure there is also a check mark in the field labeled 'Use as key to find existing'. Then, if a matching record is found, it will be skipped.

Top of page.

Log Skipped Record To File

When you put a check mark in this field, if a line of data in the incoming file is skipped for any reason, then the line read from the incoming data stream will be appended to an "impskip" file uniquely named with a date and time stamp {impskip-YYMMDD-hhmmss.txt} and stored in your CV11\import\impskip\ directory.

For example, CV11\import\impskip-091201-123027.txt

tip.gif If the exact {impskip-YYMMDD-hhmmss.txt} filename already exists, then Collect! will use the {impskip-YYMMDD-hhmmss-#.txt} format and increment the # until it can create a unique filename.

For example, CV11\import\impskip-091201-123027-2.txt

tip.gif If the CV11\import\imskip folder cannot be created, then Collect! will store the "impskip" files in the CV11\bin folder.

Top of page.

Special Log Format

A check mark in this field will cause the impskip.txt log file format to output debtor information as File Number, Client Account Number, Owing, Debtor Name. File Number, Account Number and Name are read from the Debtor record, and Owing is read from the input file.

If this switch is not ON, the line of data is written to the log just as it exists in the import file.

tip.gif The "impskip" file is uniquely named with a date and time stamp and stored in your CV11\import\impskip\ directory.

For example:


Top of page.

Preserve Existing Data

This switch controls whether existing data will be overwritten by new data read during the import.

If the record already exists in the database, (based on the Key fields defined for this record), two things can occur. If the field is not blank in the existing record, the values read on importing will not overwrite the existing field data. If the existing field is blank, the imported field data will be loaded into the record.

Top of page.

Append To Existing Data

This function causes data being read to be appended to an already loaded field. Data is simply added to the end of existing data.

This switch is useful for importing into the address fields. Some systems have City, State and Zip codes in separate fields. You could append these together into the Address 2 field.

tip.gif If you also include a Default Value for the field, the default value will be prepended to any data imported in this field. Existing data in the field is overwritten by any default value.

tip.gif This is not needed when importing notes. Notes are imported and merged automatically by Collect! Import.

Top of page.

Prepend Comma

If the append switch is set, this switch can modify the way data is appended into fields. This switch causes a comma and then a space to be added in front of the data being appended. In the case above, with the address, you would specify the City to be read directly into the Address 2 field. Then, you would set the Append To Existing Data and Append Comma switch on both the State and Zip fields, which also load their data into the Address 2 field.

Top of page.

Add Space Before Appending

Put a space between fields being appended. If a comma is also added, put the space after the comma.

Top of page.

Insert Comma

Put a comma between fields being appended. If a space is also added, put the comma before the space.

Top of page.


This is for your own use, or for specifying a column from a CSV file.

For Collect Version 11.3.9 and later the note line may contain a CSV column reference preceded by the "@" symbol. For example @A represents Column A from the CSV file. Alternatively, @1 represents the first column from the CSV file.

See also: Dynamic CSV Import Indexing

Top of page.


This indicates that the Field begins on the nth character of the line. This is used only for Fixed Length format files. Note that the first character on the line is offset 0.

Top of page.


This indicates the length in characters of the Field. It is only used on Fixed Length format files.

tip.gif If you are exporting, the number you enter here is evaluated when you have "Right justify zero fill" switched ON in the Import Options.

Top of page.

Default Value

Enter a value here to fill the field with the text that you entered.

If you specify a default value for a field that exists in the file being imported, the default value will override the imported value, including when you have 'Use transaction type' settings switched ON in the Import Options.

If the field does not exist in the file being imported, you must ensure that you add the field you want filled with a default value to the end of the list of fields being imported.

To empty the field during importing, set the default value to @.

tip.gif If you turn ON the 'Append To Existing Data' switch when you have a default value, this causes the default value to be prepended to any imported data.

tip.gif If the text in the default value starts with an "x" you will have to use the ASCII HEX codes for your default value. For Example: Xray should be put in as: x58x72x61x79 For Example: xray should be put in as: x78x72x61x79 For Example: x201 should be put in as: x78x32x30x31

When exporting, the default value is exported to the file.

Top of page.

Comparing Data

You can put a value into the Default Value field and use that to 'compare' with the incoming data stream. This comparison works with numeric, text and database field codes. For example, you might want a value equal to 100 or equal to A text value is compared simply as an ASCII value. 'z' is greater than 'a', for instance.

tip.gif Select the OTHER OPTIONS button to set the comparison in the Import Field Options form.

tip.gif You may want to set other switches to tell Collect! what to do during the 'compare' process. For example, "Use as key to find existing", and "Skip subrecords if key not found" should be switched ON if you want Collect! to skip the record when the 'compare' fails.

Top of page.

Lines After Identifier

This is used in conjunction with the Identifier field in the Import Record Definition form. You may have a record whose data is spread over several lines in the file being imported. Here, you specify the line number (after the identifier) on which the field data appears.

tip.gif Fields should be listed on a line by line basis.

In other words, list data fields on the same line as the Identifier (if any) first. Their "Lines After Identifier" field would be blank, representing 0 lines after the ID. Then, list those one line below (Lines after = 1), then those fields two lines below, and so on.

Top of page.


The accumulator field specifies where to total the count and value (if it is numeric) of the field being imported or exported.

Enter a number from 1 to 20 to have the information about this field totaled in the Accumulator record. The number you enter is the number of the line item in the accumulator record where the information will be stored.

tip.gif This must be defined by you in the Accumulator form before you reference it.

When importing, you can use this to verify total counts, dollar amounts and other checks. When exporting, you can total the counts and values of information exported, then place the totals at the top or bottom of the file exported.

Top of page.

Fill Value

Enter a value into the Fill Value field. This is done when you want to set a conditional compare with the Default value, and based on the result of that compare, load some data into a field.

Normally, any value entered into the Default Value field is loaded into the field either on importing or is transmitted when exporting. However, this model breaks down when you want to test on a condition and import or export some piece of data that is not the same as the compare value.

For example, you might want to export the character 'O' for accounts with an Owing amount greater than $1.00, and character 'P' for Paid In Full accounts. You would do this by creating two export fields, each with $1.00 in the Default Value field and the appropriate conditional settings set in the Import Field Options for each case. Then you would enter an 'O, and a 'P' in the Fill Value field for each of the field specifications.

tip.gif You can use printable field specifiers (used to pull database information into reports) in the Fill Value field to export data from records related to the current record. For example, imagine that you want to export the Client Name when the current record being exported is a Transaction record. You could enter into the Fill Value field, and immediately the Client Name is exported.

tip.gif You must make sure the appropriate record is current.

Top of page.

Scan For

The Scan For field offers the full capabilities of the C language scanf function to parse imported and exported text.

You can use this function to perform pattern matching, substring extraction, and other functions.

Top of page.

Multiply By

This value is used to multiply incoming numeric values. A typical use for this is importing from systems which specify percentages as fractional numbers. For example, 18% would come into Import as '0.18'. Collect!, however, requires '18.0'. We would, therefore, use Multiply By 100 in this case, and the '0.18' would be stored as '18'.

Top of page.

Case Conversions

Import can automatically convert field text into upper or lower case, and even capitalize words. Leaving all of these switches blank by default ignores any potential case conversions.

Top of page.

Don't Change Case

Choose this option to import or export data AS IS with no case conversion.

Top of page.

Convert To Upper Case

Choose this option to convert all data to upper case as it is imported or exported.

Top of page.

Convert To Lower Case

Choose this option to convert all data to lower case as it is imported or exported.

Top of page.


Choose this option to capitalize the first letter after every space as data is imported or exported.

Top of page.

Trailing Overpunch

This is a data format used by older mainframes to save space. By using an alpha or curly brace, it is possible to indicate either positive or negative value for a numeric and also to give the last digit in the numeric - using only one character instead of two.

{ = +0
A = +1
B = +2
C = +3
D = +4
E = +5
F = +6
G = +7
H = +8
I = +9


00155003E = +15500.35
003467{ = +346.70

} = -0
J = -1
K = -2
L = -3
M = -4
N = -5
O = -6
P = -7
Q = -8
R = -9


005173K = -517.32
003467} = -346.70

In an actual file these would be in a single string.

For example, 00155003E003467{005173K003467}

This might indicate a Principal Amount of $15500.35 with a Payment of $346.70, Fees totaling $517.32 and an NSF amount of $346.70.

Top of page.

Date Options

Selecting this opens the Import Field Date Format form where you can choose how you want dates represented for this field. You can choose a format and Collect! will convert dates to the format you chose.

tip.gif The format applies only to this specific field and overrides the date options set in the Import Date Options form which sets a format for dates at the record level.

Field level date options are useful when importing or exporting a file that has different formats for dates in various fields.

Top of page.

Other Options

Selecting this opens the Import Field Options form where you can control fields, verify and check values, set a value to use for comparison and ensure that certain conditions are met when importing and exporting records.

Top of page.

Ignoring Fields In CSV Files

To ignore a field when importing from a CSV file, simply create an import field definition record ( Field Type). Then, instead of assigning a database field in the Field box, simply leave the Field assignment blank. Leaving the Field box blank causes the Collect! Import to ignore the field.

Top of page.


Press this button for help on the Import Field Specification dialog and links to related topics.

Top of page.


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

Top of page.


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.

Top of page.

See Also

- File Format Specification
- How To Use Import/Export
- Import Menu
- Export Menu
- scanf
- How To Set Default Values For Imports
- Import Field Definitions
- Import/Export Topics

Top of page.

Was this page helpful? Do you have any comments on this document? Can we make it better? If so how may we improve this page.

Please click this link to send us your comments:

RMA RMA Canada ACA Member