This blog entry aims at familiarizing you with Templates for data Import which are available amongst other new features including a powerful Import Data Wizard in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online November 2009 Service Update. These templates serves as a very good start point for importing data without requiring mapping effort from the user as templates can be automatically mapped by Import Data Wizard. Additionally, they have enough Data validations in place to minimize errors that can occur during data import.
What is a Data template?
A Data template is a XML Spreadsheet 2003 format file which has a .xml extension. This file can easily be downloaded for each record type that can be imported into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
The columns in the template correspond to the various fields for a particular record type in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Template uses the Data Validation feature of Excel in each column to control the type of data or the values that you enter into a cell. It also shows what columns are mandatory and require data for the record to be imported into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. These templates can be easily edited using Microsoft Office Excel thus giving the power of Excel spreadsheet to the end user.
Download Data templates
- In the Navigation Pane, go to Settings -> Data Management -> Templates for Data Import , or Go to Workplace->Imports->Download the Data Import Template as shown in following screenshots.
- In the Record Type list, select the record type for which you want to download the template, and click Download.
The template for the selected record type is downloaded to the location you specify.
Using Data Template to enter data to be imported
Templates contain all the fields which are present in the Form of a particular record type; form which is launched while creating/updating any record of that particular record type. Though that covers most of the fields you will need to import data into, you can always add more columns in a template, if needed. Some useful facts about Templates:
1. Highlighted Columns– Highlighted fields are System required fields in the MSCRM and it is recommended that you give data for all of these fields for import to succeed without errors.
2. Comments– Tooltip for each column header contains a Description of the field in MSCRM making it easy for the user to know what exactly this field represents in MSCRM.
Selecting any cell under a column also shows the data type of that field in CRM and allowed ranges of the values that field can have.
3. Allowed values for Pick-lists, Bit fields– For fields on pick-list type, a template is pre-populated with the available list values in MSCRM ensuring that the value selected is always correct.
It also contains Data validations for other data types like date-time, whole numbers , decimals ,etc. in place. For lookup types, these comments will tell the record type to which a particular field references.
All error validations in templates are STOP style and user will not be allowed to proceed after typing wrong data.
Ø Importing Data Template with data using new Import Data wizard-
Once you have downloaded a template and saved data into it as explained above, your data template is ready to be imported into MSCRM using Import Data Wizard with minimum clicks.
One very important point to note: While importing a Data template , select option Map Automatically in the following screen after a template with data has been uploaded on the first screen.
As soon as this option is selected, all the files and fields will get mapped automatically by the system and wizard will take you directly to the Review Mapping Summary page. You can directly submit import on the next screen after Review screen.
Please note that if you have added any column in the template yourself, you need to ensure that the column name should exactly match the display name of that field in MSCRM ,or else the column would need to be manually mapped during wizard flow.
In a nutshell, templates are the fastest and easy way to help you get your data into MSCRM. I hope you will find them very useful for your day to day imports.