The import system we’re building lets you import from any sensible data format, and map your own column names into the column/field names that we use internally here.
While writing the prototype for an FTP exporter, I realised that the same method we use for converting incoming data can be used for outgoing data. For now, I have a very basic proof of concept that runs in one corner of FieldMotion. We’re going to expand on that.
Exporting data is almost the same as importing. As one of the bosses joked, “can you not just write the code backwards?” (yes, he was joking – we’re all pretty savvy here!). In essence, he’s kind of right. The sequence of events is reversed (convert file to data then data to internal map, becomes convert internal map to data then data to file).
So, as soon as we finish the importing system and push that out to all parts of our paperless office solutions, we will do the same for exports.
And as is usually the case with things we have just done or are just about to do, there are already potential clients waiting for this feature!
One nice side-effect of this work is that we will soon be able to hook into external reporting engines, providing data in whatever format they want. This, again, is something our clients are clamouring for. We have simple reporting built in, and have built Access-based report engines where some of our clients needed more bespoke work, but if we could hook into a full-on data analysis package that already exists, this would save us some time. So, we’ll do it.
The proof of concept export that I mentioned is an hourly export to FTP of any customers that have been changed in the customer relationship management software within that hour. You set up details of the server on which the data should be dumped, and then FieldMotion will push the data to that. We could potentially expand that even further to push to Dropbox or Google Drive, etc.
The export format for the hourly thing is CSV, but I will be making that configurable. At first, CSV/XLS/XLSX/ODS, and eventually we may offer XML as well.