Learn how to import participants, sessions, messages and other data from Excel spreadsheets into Backstage
Backstage is a content management system where you can upload participant lists, session data, documents and messages to your event.
Data can be entered manually into the Backstage web application. However, most event managers maintain their data in spreadsheet formats. This page offers a step-by-step guide on how to import Microsoft Excel® data into Backstage, focusing specifically on participant data. A Backstage account or Backstage invitation is required for this tip sheet.
Preparing the Import File
To get started, prepare your participant data so it is in the proper format for importing to Backstage.
1. Open your source participant data in Excel® and verify your format:
• The first row should contain your columns headers, such as first name, last name, company, etc. There are no constraints on the naming of these headers, but all columns should have a unique header.
• First name and last name should be stored in separate columns. If the source data has a single name column containing both the first name and last name, select the column in Excel and use the menu Data => Text to Columns => Delimited => Use space as delimiter to split the single column into 2 columns.
• A template Excel® spreadsheet can be downloaded from Backstage directly. From the Backstage event, select the Participant module > List Participants. You may have to press the ... button to expand all the modules. Select the Export XLS button on the right pane. Save, open and edit the Excel® file with the relevant data. Make sure to preserve the first row (headers).
• The Excel spreadsheet must be saved as a Microsoft Excel 2007 format (.xlsx) or Excel 1997 format (.xls). Excel 2003 format (.xml) or comma-separated value format (.csv) are not supported and must be saved as .xlsx.
A unique identifier is a number or a code that is used to identify records between systems and across updates. Participant data may be exported from an external registration system and it is important to preserve the identifier generated by this system. It may be called record number, booking number, registration number, confirmation code, unique ID or UUID.
This identifier will also be used for the next time participant data is uploaded into Backstage to track changes to existing records and match new records. If you do not manage your participant data from an external system and you do not have a unique identifier, unique identifiers can be created manually in the source spreadsheet. The unique identifiers must contain only letters and numbers.
2. Make sure your data has a unique identifier for all records to be imported. This unique identifier must be stored in a dedicated column in the spreadsheet, named "fp_ext_id".
Running the Import Wizard
Import your Excel® file into Backstage:
1. From the Backstage event, select the Participant module -> Import Participants -> Choose File. Select the source Excel® file. Select Begin upload.
2. Indicate which row contains the column headings. This is usually the first row. Select Next.
3. Associate data fields with the imported rows from the source spreadsheet. Select Next.
• The list on the left panel enumerates all column headings from the source spreadsheet.
• The list on the middle panel has the matching fields that already exist in Backstage and that have been automatically detected.
• Carefully verify fields that have been detected automatically.
• Fields that have not been detected will display an Unmapped message. Select the corresponding field from the list, or select Do no import.
• If a field from the source spreadsheet does not exist in Backstage, select the button. Enter a display label to be used in Backstage form (e.g. Group Name), an app mapping field name to be used for the app (e.g. group_name) and a field kind, usually text. Select Add field.
• One, and only one, Unique Identifier field must be mapped.
4. Backstage checks the integrity of the Unique Identifiers. If all Unique Identifiers are valid, the import process can continue. Select Next.
• A preview of the data to be imported is displayed. Select Complete the import if you are satisfied with the preview.
• Check the Summary panel. Make sure that number of Creating records is consistent with your expectations. For example, if you are re-uploading a previous spreadsheet that should only contain updates to existing records, Creating should be 0.
• Check the Preview and Content Differences panel.
The Import Empty Cells option from the import wizard determines how empty cells from the source spreadsheet are handled by the import wizard. The option Import Empty Cells is checked, any empty/blank cell in the source spreadsheet will override the existing value in Backstage.
Importing any Data Type
This tip sheet shows how to import participant data from Excel® spreadsheets. The same workflow can be used for sessions, messages, documents or any other data type that you would like to import into Backstage.
Importing New Versions
Subsequent versions of the source spreadsheet can be imported through the import wizard. It is absolutely critical that the Unique Identifiers are used correctly and are preserved throughout future import runs. Backstage will remember the field mapping when using the same source file name across import runs.
Make sure to carefully check the preview panel for any inconsistencies.
Alternatively, you may export the current participant list from Backstage, make the edits on the spreadsheet directly and reimport into Backstage.