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Step by Step
         Importing Flat Files
By Cynthia Yates, DealerDealer.com- Copyright 2001
If you maintain a large inventory, creating products in Miva Merchant one at a time can be painfully time-consuming. Miva provides the solution via flat file text importing.

A flat file is a database and a database is simply a collection of information.  A flat text file stores all of your information in one table in .txt format.  A flat file is NOT a relational database.  A relational database stores information in 2 or more related tables.

The easiest way to create a flat file for your Miva Merchant is to use a spreadsheet software program such as dbase or Microsoft Excel.   The only requirement is that your spreadsheet program (SP) permit your file to be saved as a .txt file.

There are many advantages to using a SP to keep track of your inventory.  Generating reports, making changes to several products at once, and tracking inventory are the advantages.  The only real disadvantage is the time it takes to set up a flat file but this time is negligible compared to the advantages.   Also, you cannot use flat file importing for adding product attribute information, i.e. color, size to your store's products.

Let's begin.

Step 1 - Create your file

Open your spreadsheet program (SP).  Your SP will have columns and rows.  The Miva manual states "your file must contain the following information in the order shown".  Actually, this is not exactly true, nonetheless the order is logical so let's use it.

  • Product Code:  Text, numbers. No HTML.
  • Product Name: Text, numbers. No HTML.
  • Thumbnail URL: URL to your thumbnail image. No HTML. No quotes ("").
  • Image URL: URL to your Full-size image. No HTML. No quotes ("").
  • Price:  Retail price.  Decimal numeric. No currency symbols.
  • Cost: Cost of product.  Decimal numeric. No currency symbols.
  • Weight:  Decimal numeric. No text. No HTML.
  • Taxable:  "Yes", "True" or any positive whole number means taxable.  "Blank", zero, other text or numbers means non-taxable.
  • Active:  "Yes", "True" or any positive whole number means active.  "Blank", zero, other text or numbers means not-Active.
  • Description:  Text, HTML, or other browser type code, i.e. Javascript.
  • Category Code:  Category must exist at your store or product is added uncategorized.

We have included a partial view of a spreadsheet below. Notice the column headings, Product Code, Product Name, etc. follow the order indicated by Miva Merchant.

Attributes:  Product features such as color or size can not be imported via the flat file method.

Missing info:  Notice that not all of our fields contain information.  For instance, if you do not use full-sized images at your site, there is no need to place info in this column. Likewise, if you do not want to import the cost of your products, you will not place info in that particular cell of your spreadsheet.

Images:  Unless you indicate otherwise, Miva will begin its search for your images in the root directory, in which case you can indicate a relative path to your files as is shown in the spreadsheet view above.   If, however, your images are located somewhere else, you will need to use a full path to your image files such as http://www.yoursite.com/images.

How large is your inventory? Generally speaking, you should not try to upload more than about 500 products at once.  If you do, you may get a time-out error from Miva Merchant.  If you have 1000 products or more, place products 1-500 in spreadsheet file1.txt, products 501-1000 in spreadsheet file2.txt, etc.  Then upload file1.txt, then file2.txt, etc.

Alphabetizing your inventory?  Miva Merchant does not have a convention for alphabetizing your inventory.  Miva will display your inventory in the order in which it was uploaded.  So if you want to alphabetize your inventory, do it in the SP before uploading.

Other info in your spreadsheet?  You don't have to limit the info contained in your spreadsheet to the fields above.  You can fill your spreadsheet with columns of other info that may be important to you and have Miva ignore that info at import time.  So go ahead and utilize your SP to your advantage.


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