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Having a problem with a spreadsheet upload or CSV upload?
Having a problem with a spreadsheet upload or CSV upload?

Let's review the top causes of errors when trying to upload people or enrolments via spreadsheet / CSV.

David King avatar
Written by David King
Updated over a week ago

When uploading data into the platform via spreadsheet or CSV, your data needs to be 'correct' for the upload to process. Computers are very strict with CSV files, so even a tiny error can create a problem. Let's troubleshoot the most common errors which can occur when uploading a spreadsheet or CSV.

Top tip: View your CSV in a text editor to spot problems

Troubleshooting CSV errors in a spreadsheet, like Excel, can be difficult. Sometimes it is better to view a CSV in a text editor, like Notepad, which shows the CSV contents very clearly. In particular, it shows 'invisible spaces' and 'blank rows'.

Common error #1: Invisible spaces

If you are copying/pasting information into your CSV, it is possible to sometimes copy an extra space at the end of your selected text. This can create an error when copying the user name or email address in particular. For example:

When viewing a CSV in a spreadsheet, like Excel, that extra space isn't easily visible - its just a space after all. But if you click into the cell, you use your cursor to see if there is an extra space at the end. The extra space is also easily visible when viewed in a text viewer.

If you have an existing user in your portal who is also in this upload but has an extra space after their user name or email, then the computer views this as a different person! This can lead to it trying to create a new user but finding either the user name or email which doesn't have an extra space conflicting with the existing user's details.

Here's the error when you try to complete the upload with an invisible space.

  • In this example, we have tried to update an existing user, but their user name has an extra space at the end: '[email protected] '

  • If you look at the error messaging, you can see it is saying 'user name already taken and 'email already taken', which indicates it is trying to create a duplicate user but hitting errors.

  • If we look at the user name it is reporting on, we can see its "[email protected] " and there is indeed a space after it.

  • Fix: Edit the CSV, check for invisible spaces and remove, resave and upload again.

Common error #2: Blank rows

Another very common error in CSV uploads is a 'blank row'. A blank row means a row of data exists in the CSV but each cell is empty. The row still exists though! So when the upload begins, it eventually hits the row and finds every cell blank...which naturally leads to errors.

Blanks rows are not visible in a spreadsheet, like Excel. But if you load your CSV into a text editor, like Notepad, the blank row is visible - usually as a string of commas.

This blank row can occur for a variety of reasons, but it essentially is treated as 'data' by the computer. But since that data is empty, we encounter problems.

Here's the error when you try to complete the upload with a blank row.

  • In this example, we have tried to update an existing user, but there is also a blank row (as per the example image above).

  • If you look at the error messaging, which indicates that user name, email, first name and last name can't be blank. That's the clue!

  • Fix: Edit the CSV, highlight 10-20 rows after the last row of data and fully delete those rows, resave and try again. Alternatively, open in a text editor to confirm there are no blank rows.

Common error #3: Not completing required cells

Each row in your spreadsheet represents a user, while each column in your spreadsheet represents a field of data. Some fields of data allow for empty (null) entries, but some fields of data require an entry. For fields requiring some entry, if you leave that cell empty / blank, it can cause an error, since the field requires an entry.

As an example, if you set up custom fields for your organisation, it is OK to upload an empty cell for custom field data for some users - you may not yet have the data for that custom field for that user.

However, other fields in Tribal Habits require a choice - typically fields that have a drop-down or radio button interaction in the Admin area. Those fields are often ones that are set to 'Yes' or 'No', and so any cell in the column for that data field must be populated with 'Yes' or 'No' - a blank or empty cell would cause an error.

Examples of fields that require an entry in your spreadsheet (and will otherwise cause an error if the cell is empty) include:

  • Activated - Yes or No

  • Creator - Yes or No

  • Type - Staff, Client or Prospect

  • Login - Internal or External

  • Notifications Enabled - Yes or No

  • Force Password Reset - Yes or No

If your spreadsheet contains any of those columns, please ensure that there is a data entry in every row for every user (no blank cells in those columns). Alternatively, remove those columns from your upload if they are not required.

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