CSV data export

Export saved data

Visforms offers you the possibility to easily export saved form data to CSV format and save it in a file. CSV stands for “Comma-Separated Values” and simply means that all the data in a data record is lined up one after the other, separated by commas. A data record contains all the data that was sent by sending the form once. Each record is on its own line in the exported CSV file.

Most common spreadsheet programs such as Excel or OpenOffice can read CSV files without any problems. This means that the exported data can be easily further processed, used externally or evaluated. It is often sufficient to open the CSV file with a double click and the content of the file is automatically displayed as an Excel spreadsheet.

You can use a parameter to control whether the CSV file is preceded by a so-called header as the first line. The header contains the names of the exported form fields. This makes the names of the form fields available as column headers in the spreadsheet program.

The Visforms Subscription allows you to define different “field labels” that are used as field names in the column header for the CSV export. More on this in: Additional field labels.

Which fields should be exported?

In the Field configuration in the Advanced tab, you can use the Export field during data export option to enable or exclude each field individually for the export if required. By default, this option is set to “yes”. You therefore only have to edit the fields that should not be included in the export.

In the Form configuration, under the Advanced tab, there are a number of options for fine-tuning the data export.

You can specify whether only published fields should be exported. For the additional special fields, which are automatically included in every data table, you can specify individually whether these should also be exported or not. This affects the Field ID, User ID, IP, Published, Submitted Date, Modified and Modified Date.

Which records are exported

You start the data export in the backend of your Joomla website in the Data view using the Export button in the menu bar. As described above, you can access the data view via the Display data link in the form overview.

In the form configuration under the Advanced tab, Visforms offers you a form option with which you can exclude all unpublished data records from the export. In addition, if required, you can select specific data records in the data view that are to be exported. Otherwise, all records will be exported respecting the form options mentioned above.

Like every Joomla table, the data view has checkboxes in the second column, with which you can select one or more data sets. To do this, simply click on the checkbox.

Note: The data export works differently depending on whether you have selected no, one or more data sets.

If you have selected data records using this checkbox, only the selected data records will be exported when you click on the Export button. If you have not selected any data records, then all data records will be exported.

Which character set is used

Small digression about character sets

So-called character sets are used for the use and storage of characters on the computer in binary code. These are rules or rather tables that determine which binary code sequence is to be assigned to which character. Different languages can have very different characters when writing. The number of characters can also vary greatly between character sets. For this reason, regionally different character sets have been created that meet the respective requirements of the regional fonts particularly well.

In the meantime, massive efforts have been made to simplify the handling of different character sets (standardization). But especially with the automated export and import of data between different systems there can still be problems. This is regularly the case when the actual database is run on a mostly Linux-based server, but the spreadsheet program on a mostly Windows-based local computer.

Configuration settings

On many systems, however, it is possible without any problems and without special settings to export form data simply by clicking on the export button and then to open it directly as a table in Excel by double-clicking on the CSV file.

This is possible because Visforms automatically converts the data set of the server (UTF-8) into a Windows character set during the export. However, assumptions are made here regarding the format of the UTF-8 character set and the locally used Windows character set. These assumptions are often true, but unfortunately not always true. It can therefore happen that errors occur during export or import. The errors manifest themselves in strange error messages in the CSV file or in strange “wrong” characters in Excel.

Therefore, Visforms offers another export option, which you can use to switch off the automatic conversion of the character set. Set the option Use Windows 1250 character set to “no” if errors occur during data export or import.

Note: Please note that you then need to import the CSV file into Excel with the correct import settings. The correct import settings depend on the system.

Additional features of the Visforms Subscription

The Visforms Subscription also offers you the following option for the CSV export of transmitted and stored data: