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Event import best practices

There are a number of ways to bring data into Event Manager from external systems. These vary in capabilities and functionality, but they all have similarities.

Below, the differences and similarities will be broken down in an effort to indicate the best variant of Event Manager import to use for the intended data.

Basics of event importing

At minimum, an event requires a name, a summary, a description (copied from the event summary if none is provided), and a start and end date/time. Therefore, each import into Event Manager will also require these basic pieces of information. Other details may be desired for an event, such as the event location, image(s) associated with the event, the taxonomy (categorization) of the event, whether the event is public or private, etc.


In order for Event Manager to correctly process this information, there are certain rules that must be followed when formatting the data for your import file. For example, date information must be in the format of mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm AM/PM, and this data should all be in the same column on your import file. The only exception to these formatting rules is an iCal import, which follows a different set of rules.

Import types

There are three file types that are supported by Event Manager for importing. The supported file types are CSV files, XML files, and iCal (.ics files). CSV and XML files both have multiple variants.

CSV files

CSV (Comma Separated Values) files are both powerful and flexible when used for importing into Event Manager. There is no set "CSV standard" around the construction of the data, which makes it less rigid to use than iCal, but it still has certain rules associated with its construction and use. For example, all rows must have the same number of columns which must be accounted for, even if the columns are empty. CSV files are useful because they are easy to edit. They can be pulled into Excel (or similar applications) and manipulated quickly. This easy editing process can make them more appealing than other options, like XML.


There are two types of CSV imports available for Event Manager, "Standard CSV Import" and "Custom CSV Import". Both formats have strengths and weaknesses to be aware of when utilizing them.

Standard CSV import

The Standard format is predefined by Event Manager. It has a set number of columns in the file, predefined column names, and allows for items such as status and event privacy to be set at the event level.


There are a few limitations with the Standard Import:

  • It only supports top level locations in the import file. (This means the file will not support a location > building > room structure.)
  • If a location or category does not already exist, it is added to the site where the import is running. There is no way to make them Global.
  • You cannot import images or attachments.

Custom CSV import

The Custom format is more flexible than the Standard import. The number of columns can be defined by the import and the column names do not have to be fixed. *Note: The number of columns does need to match throughout the CSV file. Additionally, you are able to import a three tier location structure (location > building > room).


There are a few limitations with the Custom Import:

  • Column headers cannot have spaces
  • Event rows cannot include commas.
  • If a location or category does not already exist, it is added to the site where the import is running. There is no way to make them Global.
  • You cannot import images or attachments.
  • Event Status and Privacy must be set at the import level.

XML files

Extensible Markup Language (.xml) files are the most flexible and powerful of the data import options supported by Event Manager. Like CSV files, there are two types of supported XML imports: "Standard XML Import" and "Custom XML Import". The advantage of importing using XML is the amount of data that is allowed for event imports, as well as the additional information that is supported beyond iCal and CSV formats.

Standard XML import

The Standard XML format has a predefined list of supported nodes . However, unlike the Standard CSV columns, these nodes do not necessarily all have to be present or in the same order, except in the case of nested information like Locations, Contact Info, and Categories. If a node is not used in a particular import, it can be omitted from the file. *Note: The node names must be correctly named to match the predefined node names within Event Manager.



  • Global Locations can be added with the Standard XML Import, without the need for the location to already exist in Event Manager.
  • Images, attachments, and custom questions can be imported.
  • Event Status and Privacy of each event can be defined at the event level, as opposed to the import level.
  • Multiple locations can be imported per event.

Custom XML import

The Custom XML format has many of the advantages of the Standard format, but has a few additional limitations:

  • Locations are added at the site level unless a Global Location already exists.
  • Event Status and Privacy are defined at the import level, so they cannot be defined for each event individually.
  • Custom questions cannot be defined in the import if they do not already exist, but the answers can be imported.
  • Only one Location can be imported per event.


iCal files

iCal files are the most universal of the supported import formats because they must follow the internet standard for iCal files. While they may be the most universal, they are also the most limited because of this standard. For that reason, we do not recommend using iCal to import events unless you are aware of its limitations.


iCal files may support and contain much of the information Event Manager needs, but there is no regulation that controls the data format. For example, the address may be multi-tiered, all on one line, in a different order than Event Manager expects, etc. In order for the data to be successfully imported, Event Manager must recognize the data format. Therefore, iCal, while universal in its application, may not always be the best choice for structured data imports.


iCal is ideal for general, high level data imports (meetings, announcements, notifications, etc.), but if you are importing events with more detail, we recommend that you use either CSV or XML to import.

Basics of import troubleshooting

There are several options you can use to determine why an import isn't working:

  • Confirm that the import data is properly formatted (dates are as expected, Y/N fields are correct, etc.) and that all required information is present.
  • If you are using a CSV file, make sure the column names match exactly. They must also be in the correct order, or mapped correctly if using the custom CSV import.
  • If you are using an XML file, be sure all nodes in the file are correctly spelled or mapped. You must also ensure that the nodes are properly closed: 
    • <nodename> followed by </nodename>
    • If the node is empty, use <nodename/>
  • If you are receiving an error when you try to load the file, confirm that all of the expected columns or nodes exist, and that your data matches from event to event.
    • Common issues include too many commas in a CSV data row, or improperly closed or missing XML nodes.
  • Try a file that you know works. If that file imports correctly, the issue is with the data itself, not the import process.
  • Try entering a sample import with just a couple rows. This way, you can test the quality of your import without committing to a full data file.