Getting started with automated import

Our automated import tool makes it simple to stay on top of your student data while maintaining the security and privacy that is essential when transferring sensitive and personal data.

How does it work?

Without getting into the technical details, the automated import tool works by checking an SFTP folder for a specific import file (or files) on a scheduled basis. If that import file exists in the folder, the tool will import those contacts based on the settings you provide for us. Once the import is complete, the original import file is renamed with the date and time appended to the filename. Success and error emails - which include details about any row errors encountered - can also be sent, depending on the settings you provide.

What we need from you to get started

1. SFTP server details

  • If you would like to use your own server, we'll need:
    • SFTP server address
    • Username
    • Password
    • Path
    • If you don't have your own server, we can set you up on ours.

2. Program details

For each CSV file you will be importing, we'll need to know:

  • Program name
  • File name
    • We prefer the filename remain the same each time you place it on the SFTP server. Don’t worry, you won’t be overwriting the old files (we renamed them after they’ve been imported - file names are appended with yyyymmdd - hhmmss.processed).
  • Field mapping
    • If you cannot match the header row in your CSV file to the field names in Message, we'll need to know which Message fields correspond to the values in your header row.
  • Schedule for import
    • We just need a brief description of when you want the import to run - for instance, weekly on Sundays at 1:00 am, or weekdays at 5:30 am.
    • The most frequently the import will be able to run is hourly.
  • Import type
    • Add only - only add new contacts, do nothing to existing.
    • Update only - only update existing, do nothing for new contacts.
    • Add and update - add new and update existing.
  • Error emails
    • Do you want the system to email you if there’s an error in your import?
    • If yes, which email addresses should it send to?
  • Success emails
    • Do you want the system to email you after a successful import?
    • If yes, which email addresses should it send to?

If you will be uploading multiple files to the same program, we'll need to know the order in which to process them.

3. Go live details

  • What date are you targeting for this to be live?
  • Do you require a sandbox or testing account to verify everything before it goes live?
    • If you are a new customer or this is for a program that hasn’t launched yet, it’s advised that you verify using your normal account.
    • If you are configuring automated import for an active/existing program, speak with our Customer Success team about the best way to test and verify.

Once we have all of the above information, we can get started setting up your automated imports.


Frequently asked questions

  1. Is there a file size limit? No. If you want to import very large files every hour, there may be an effective limit based on how frequently the import can be processed, but those files would have to be hundreds of thousands of rows.

  2. What happens if there is no file on the SFTP server to import? The tool will send you an error email.

  3. What happens if there’s a problem in my import file? If your import file has a bad row, the import tool will skip that row and otherwise continue the import, but will indicate it both in the report it uploads to the SFTP server and in an error email. If your import file is unreadable, not a CSV or otherwise malformed, no rows will be imported and an error email will be sent. Uploads will also fail if there are more than 1,000 errors in the file.

  4. Can I tell how many rows were updated, added, skipped or have errors? Yes! The uploaded report after every import includes this information, as do both the success and error emails.

  5. How are fields mapped? Fields are mapped the same way our manual import tool is mapped - it looks at your header row and matches those values to the field names in Message. Any columns that do not match a field name in Message are skipped and not imported. If you're unable to match the field headers to the field names in Message, we also support the use of a Field Mapping file (see below).

  6. How long does the process take? Once we have all the information needed, it usually takes about 2 days to set up, plus whatever additional time you need for testing.

  7. If we'll be using Message's server, can we use SSH keys? Yes, just send us your public key!


Field Mapping Files

If you're unable to match your column headers with the field names in Message, you can set up a field mapping file to convert your column headers to the correct format. The file needs to be in a .csv format and present in the directory that the Automated Import Tool accesses your other file from. 

The file should have two columns: one with the headers as they appear in your file, and one with the fields as they appear in Message. See example below:

two-column table of fields with source field name on the left and Signal Vine field ID on the right

Once you have your mapping file set, be sure to contact your Customer Support Representative to ensure that they have it enabled for your account.

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