Behind the Scenes @ Wild Apricot: How important is importing?

Lori Halley 11 June 2010 0 comments

It's been a long time coming.

No, I'm not talking about the World Cup but about the features that we are releasing in version 3.5 of Wild Apricot. This has been our longest release ever. Most of our previous releases have lasted, on average, every two months. This one has been going on much longer than that, clocking in at over three months of development and testing.

A big part of this has been the development of the new Financial Management module. While this is the largest undertaking that we've done since launching Version 3, there's a part of 3.5 that has been in active development even longer.

One the handy things about Wild Apricot is that we've always given you a way to import your existing members and contacts into the system. This is great when you are just starting out or when you have a fully set-up system and want to do some fancy data management and then re-import. Until recently, you had to convert all your data into one of our import templates, or make sure that all your field names corresponded to ones you've created in Wild Apricot. The import function was good, but still required a lot of work.

We've redesigned our Import, and this week it's stating to go through our internal beta testing process. This makes it the first of the really big features in 3.4 to reach this level. It's also important to note that we started working on this as part of version 3.4. We knew there was going to be a lot of work to do, so we split it into two parts. In version 3.4 we prepared a lot of the system structure and database work. In this version we perfected the workflow and interface.

Here's an overview how you'll import your contacts

1) Upload the file

 

You can upload a variety of file types, like comma separated value files (CSV), Excel (XLS) and XML. What will be different is that you don't have to download our template and move your data into that format. If you already have a member list, you can use that document (so long as it's one of the data formats listed). You can then tell the import if you want the column names used to identify the data, as well as which date format use (Month/Day/Year or Day/Month/Year)

2) Map the fields

 

Once you upload your file you can then decide where you want your information to be stored in Wild Apricot. On the left you will see how your data is arranged from your source document. If you indicated that the first row of your file was the field names that information will be shown to identify the data. If not, they will be called Column 1, Column 2 etc (this is why we recommend using the first row of any spreadsheet to label your data).

You can then select which field in your Wild Apricot database should receive the data. If there is a field in your document that you don't use anymore, or don't want to import, you can de-select the Import checkbox and the field will be skipped.

One little touch is that there will be information displayed about any changes that might happen to your data. For example, if there is a limit on the amount of characters in a field, you'll see a note telling you that there is a chance that some data might be cut short.

3) Validate the data

Different fields can hold different types or information. The system will make sure that all the required fields are mapped, that you don't have two of your fields going into one Wild Apricot field, and that the data being put in is itself valid. You'll be given a report of what fields may need work before you complete your import.

4) Import

Once all your data is mapped and ready to go, the actual import happens. At this time, no other admins can import any data. The process can take a while, so there will be a Cancel option. And if it takes a really long time and the person who started he upload has lost their connection or just abandoned the process, other admins will have the ability to cancel the current import and start their own.

There will also be an Import hisotry page so you can see who imported contacts and members, when, and who those contacts were.

 

So as you can see, there's been a lot of work put into this feature, and that's just for starters. And, as always, a lot of it was derived from your suggestions and requests.

Speaking of suggestions and requests:

Next week we start testing more and more features, and I'll be talking about them here as we get closer and closer to August and the release of version 3.5 of Wild Apricot. Until then, gggooooooooaaaaallllllll!

 

Originally posted by gvalentino 

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 11 June 2010 at 2:20 PM

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