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Editing Contact Info in External Software

It is often desirable to edit certain data from a large number of contacts in a separate list, for example in Excel. This can be handy to change the addresses of a set of people, to add custom data, to correct labels, etc. You can export contacts from Yesplan, edit the exported file in external software (for example in Excel), then import the edited file back into Yesplan where the contacts will be updated.

We describe how to do this below.


It is not possible to edit people, organizations and links in the same file. If you want to edit both people and organizations, you will have to do this via two files - one for people and one for organizations.

Step 1: Export Contacts from Yesplan§

Per contact type that you want to edit – people, organizations or links – you will need a file in the correct format so you can import it back into Yesplan later. You can produce such a file in the general search box in Yesplan, where you can export the results of a query.

To request contacts of a certain type, use a query that returns contacts of that certain type.

A few examples:

  • to export all people from Belgium we use the query person:country:BE
  • to export all organizations we use the query organization:*:*
  • to export all contact links from the Yesplan organization we use the query contactlink:name:Yesplan

Read more about the capabilities in the Query Language Manual.

When you have the desired results, select the suitable encoding (UTF-8, MS-DOS or Mac, depending on your platform) under the search box, click on “Export…” then select “Export all contacts”. Yesplan will prepare a CSV file that contains the chosen contacts. When this is ready (it takes a few seconds) you can download the file.

Step 2: Edit Contacts§

Open the CSV file that you downloaded in step 1 in a program that can read files of this type. You can do this in Excel for example. Make the desired changes or additions to the contact info then save the edited file.


The first row of the CSV file contains the names of the fields, the table headers. It is important to leave the table headers untouched; otherwise Yesplan will not be able to interpret the file. All other rows in the file contain contact info. There is one row per contact.

The CSV file from step 1 also contains fields with the table headers per_id, org_id and lnk_id. These columns contain the contact’s identification numbers in Yesplan. It is important to leave the values of these fields untouched; otherwise Yesplan will not be able to interpret the file correctly.

Before you can update the contacts in Yesplan, you must delete all columns that are not related to the contact type that you are editing.


When opening a CSV file Excel will automatically try to interpret the data. A field that only contains digits will be regarded as a number, and Excel deletes zeros at the beginning of that ‘number’. That can be a problem for telephone numbers (e.g. ‘0456…’ becomes ‘456…’).

You can avoid this by ‘importing’ the CSV file into Excel rather than ‘opening’ it with Excel. Open a new file in Excel and choose import from the ‘File’ menu. Follow the wizard. Under the step where you can set the data type per column, choose the type ‘text’ for those particular columns. That way combinations of digits are not regarded as numbers and they will retain possible zeros at the beginning.

Step 3: Delete Unnecessary Columns§

When exporting contact info from Yesplan, a few additional fields are also exported to give extra context to the information that you receive. For contact links, it is very useful to receive information about the linked person and organization. This means that the exported CSV file will also contain fields that are not part of the basic information for the type of contact (people, organizations or links) that you requested with the query.

For example, the result of the query person:country:BE is a list of people who meet the conditions, but the exported CSV file will also contain fields for each of these people with information about the default link and the organization of this link (if a default link exists).

These additional fields (columns) are useful in an export file, but they are unnecessary when importing the information back into Yesplan. Before we can update the contacts in Yesplan, the unnecessary columns will have to be removed manually. If you don’t do this, the file will be rejected during the import into Yesplan.

The fields that must be removed per type are:

  • Editing people

    • Remove all columns with a table header that starts with org_ or lnk_ (including org_id and lnk_id)
    • Please note: - leave the column HR as is
  • Editing organizations

    • Remove all columns with a table header that starts with per_ or lnk_ (including per_id and lnk_id)
    • Remove the HR column
  • Editing contact links

    • Remove all columns with a table header that starts with per_ or org_ (including per_id and org_id)
    • Remove the HR column

Save the file – with your changes and without the unnecessary columns – as a CSV file.


Yesplan expects a CSV file for importing, not an Excel file. First you must export the worksheet with the contacts to the CSV format. You do this in Excel by clicking on “Save As…” in the “File” menu and then selecting the “CSV” format.

Step 4: Edit Contacts in Yesplan§

You can edit contacts in Yesplan under system settings, under the “Imports” tab, by the “Contacts” section. You’ll find the form for sending the CSV file. The following parameters can be entered:

  • Encoding: The character encoding (character encoding or text encoding) of the CSV files that serves as an input. Yesplan supports three encodings: “CSV (UTF-8)”, “MS-DOS CSV (Latin1)”, and “Macintosh CSV (MacRoman)”. The correct choice of encoding is important to ensure that special characters (like é, è, ç, ø.) are read correctly. If these characters appear wrongly after updating in Yesplan, try the import again with the correct encoding.
  • Importing as User: The Yesplan user who will own the imported contacts.
  • Select File: Choose the CSV file with edited contacts from its location on your computer. In the “Select the kind of import” drop-down menu, choose the option that corresponds with the type of contacts that you are trying to update – “Update People”, “Update Organizations” or “Update Contact Links” – then click on “Add”. Please note that Yesplan will import the contacts in the background. You will not see the result of the update immediately.

When the contacts are updated, the result will appear in a list (in the right column). This list has the following capabilities:

  • View Results: view the details and any alerts or error messages regarding the import.
  • Undo: undo all changes to the contacts. Only the changes that you made in the CSV file will be undone and put back to the value that they had before. Since this can have a big impact, you will have to confirm the action.
  • Delete from History List: delete the record from the list of imports. This is only possible for imports where no contacts were added. Please note that Yesplan automatically deletes old imports from the list at regular intervals.


Yesplan will automatically carry out duplicates detection for imported contacts. Since this calculation can be rather intensive, it will occur at night so as not to hinder the optimal operation of Yesplan. If duplicates still need to be detected for an import, the “Results” column will state that “Duplicates will be calculated tonight”. If duplicates detection was carried out, you will not see this statement.

If the import was successful, the number of imported contacts will be displayed together with any warnings. The alerts show which information could not be imported due to an error in the import file. If necessary, you can adapt the file and import it again. Be sure to click on “Undo” in the history next to the failed import so that you can start with a clean slate.

Some errors ensure that the import cannot be executed (because required fields are missing). Consult the list of warnings and adapt the file where necessary.