Another Reason to Become More “Attached” to SCRIBE

Attachments Blog Featured Image

The Attachment function is one of the latest new features of SCRIBE! Attachments allows users to upload photos, release forms, standardized test scores, and practically any other document. Need to save a letter sent from Johnny’s parents? Using Attachments, you can upload that and any other information that pertains to Johnny that does not necessarily fit into one of SCRIBE’s fields.

Figure A-1: Attachments Tab for a School

The Attachments tab exists in multiple locations throughout SCRIBE. Users with the proper permissions will be able to use the Attachments feature for Districts, Schools, Services, Parents, Service Templates, Students, Teachers, and Instances. In Figure A-1 above, you can see the list of attachments for a School.

The list of attachments can be manipulated using the Search function and by sorting by column headers (this refers to clicking and dragging the column headers to the top of the list’s table — this is another new feature that we will highlight in a post in the near future).

Users can add attachments by clicking the Add button that is located at the upper right hand corner of any attachment list. On the Upload Attachments screen (Figure A-2 below), you can assign a name and description to the attachment being uploaded. Documents can be marked as originating from within a particular program and include several tags to make sorting the list of attachments easier.

By clicking the Browse button that is located at the bottom of the Add Attachment screen, the user will be presented with a window to choose the file that needs to be uploaded. After the file has been chosen, the user can click the “Upload” button, saving the file as an attachment, or the “Return to Attachment List” button, discard the information entered on this page.

Figure A-2: Upload Attachment Screen

Your new attachment will now appear on the list and can be downloaded by anyone with the proper permissions (if you are a program administrator, please contact Xcalibur staff to have these permissions assigned to users in your program).

We love feedback! Tell us what you think about Attachment’s features in the comments below. What do you think you will upload the most? How has your experience been with the Attachments function so far?

We are very excited about this new feature and feel that it will surely become one of the most popular and powerful tools found in SCRIBE.

Xcalibur Attending and Sponsoring 2012 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference

2012 NCCEP Conference Banner (small)

SCRIBE will be sponsoring and attending the 2012 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual GEAR UP Conference in Washington, D.C. from July 22nd-25th.

If you’re attending the conference, please come visit us at Booth 406 in the Exhibitor’s Hall! Jim, Cathy, Curt, and Josh will all be on hand to answer any questions that you have about SCRIBE and demo some of the new features!

In addition, Xcalibur will also be supporting West Virginia GEAR UP and Edvantia in two presentations:

Proactive Planning: Best Practices on Managing Your Work Plan
Tuesday, 10:45-12:00

Survey Savvy: Strategies for getting what you need from your surveys — and for saving time and money while you do it
Tuesday, 3:15-4:30

In preparation for the conference, next week we will be highlighting some of SCRIBE’s key features each day, so stay tuned!

Understanding CSV Files

CSV TITLE

Understanding CSV (Comma Separated Value) Files

SCRIBE, among many other applications, uses Comma Separated Value (CSV) files for importing and exporting data. However, many users simply see a confusing text file or try to open up the file in Microsoft Excel just to see their data appearing strangely.

It is true that if you open a CSV file by double-clicking or by opening it through Excel’s menu, you will see some skewed values. For example, a school with the identification code of “001” will have its leading 0’s removed so that it is now simply ‘1’.

The worst part about opening a file in this way, is that some users will save the file when closing it. Doing so will cause those leading 0’s and any other changes made by Excel to be saved as well, possibly rendering the file useless for their needs.

In this week’s post, I’d like to take a few minutes to walk through the process of opening a CSV file so that it may be used and edited in Excel so that we can all make better use of the information contained in these files as well as having some better understanding of the formatting of the file.

We will also take a look at saving an Excel worksheet as a CSV file, opening a CSV file as a text document, and useful tips for formatting a CSV file.

Click an item to jump to that section


Importing a CSV file into Microsoft Excel

This guide will use Microsoft Excel 2007, but the steps are identical in Excel 2010.

Importing the CSV file into Microsoft Excel

CSV01 – Importing the CSV file into Microsoft Excel.

I will exclude the most obvious step of opening Excel and get right into the import process. If you are familiar with Microsoft Office 2007/2010, you will probably be familiar with the Ribbon which replaced the toolbars in previous versions. Clicking on any of the menu items at the top of the window will change the contents of the Ribbon below.

Clicking on Data will bring up the Ribbon displayed above. To import the CSV file into excel, click on the From Text button.

Select the CSV file to be imported.

CSV02 – Select the CSV file to imported.

Through the dialog box that opens, navigate to the location of the CSV file that you wish to import. (Note that a CSV file will usually end with the “.csv” file extension; however, it can also end with “.txt” or another file extension depending on how it was saved.)

Select the file and click the Import button in the lower right hand corner of the dialog box.

CSV03 – First screen of the Import Wizard dialog, selecting the file format.

The first screen of the Import Wizard will show you a preview of the file and allow you to choose how your file’s values are separated. The two choices are “Delimited” and “Fixed Width”. Delimited refers to a character (a comma in our case, but some other examples are the tab character, semicolons, and spaces); and Fixed Width means that each value takes up a specified number of characters/spaces.

Our example uses a standard CSV file, so we will choose “Delimited” and click the Next button.

Second screen of the Import Wizard

CSV04 – Second screen of the Import Wizard dialog, selecting the delimiter.

The next screen of the Import Wizard allows us to select the deliminator (or the character that separates the values). As mentioned above, there are several options, however, we will select “Comma”. When “Comma” is selected, the preview window will change to reflect the individual values that are separated by the commas. If the formatting appears correctly with the column headers at the top and the appropriate values in the columns below, click the Next button to continue.

Third screen of the Import Wizard dialog.

CSV05 – Third screen of the Import Wizard dialog, defining the format of the values.

The final screen of the Import Wizard will allow us to define how the individual value columns are formatted. At this point, it is sometimes possible to simply skip this last screen by clicking the Finish button on page 2 of the Import Wizard which will leave all of the column formats as “General”. This will allow Excel to make the call of how to format the values. Where this method sometimes run into problems are when fields, such as “SchoolNumber” in the example above, have values with leading 0’s. Excel will then trim “001” down to ‘1’ as the program recognizes this as simply a number. Therefore, it is a good practice to select any fields where this would be considered a problem and select the radio button next to “Text”.

Unconventional date formatting can also be a problem, so assigning “Date” and selecting the format in the drop down box to the right of it is advisable as well.

After all of the columns have had their format assigned, click the Finish button.

Select where the imported file's data will go.

CSV06 – Select where the imported file’s data will go.

Now that the format of the import has been defined, we now need to determine where the data will go. A small dialog box will replace the Import Wizard allowing us to select either the “Existing worksheet” with which we started the import process or “New worksheet” which will open an entirely new Excel worksheet in which to put the data.

Select the option that is most convenient for you and click the “OK” button.

Viewing the imported data.

CSV07 – Viewing the imported data.

After you have chosen in which worksheet the data will appear, you will be able to see the data separated into columns as in the above picture. Now that you have your data in Excel, it will be easy to sort and review your data.

Saving a CSV file in Microsoft Excel

You may create a CSV file in Excel by specifying header names in the first row of the worksheet and then the values corresponding to the headers in the subsequent rows.

Saving a CSV file

CSV08 – Saving a CSV file.

To save an Excel file as a CSV file, click “Save” for a new file or “Save as” to save an existing file of another format (for instance. Excel format – .xls) as a CSV. In the Save dialog, specify the File name and then click the drop down box to the right and scroll down to “CSV (Comma delimited)”, and then click the Save button.

Opening a CSV file as a text file

There may be an instance where you would like to take a look at a CSV file as a text document.

Opening a CSV file with Notepad or a similar program.

CSV09 – Opening a CSV file with Notepad or a similar program.

In many cases, Microsoft Excel will be set as the default program to open up a CSV file even though it will alter data as described above if it is simply double-clicked. This is the case in the above image in that the icons for the file look like the Excel icon even though they are CSV files.

In the above case and in general, the file can be opened by right-clicking the file which will cause a menu to be displayed. In the new menu, hover over or click on “Open with”. Doing so will display a list of programs with which the file may be opened. Clicking “Notepad” will cause the file to appear as it does below.

A CSV file opened in Notepad.

CSV10 – A CSV file opened in Notepad.

For many CSV files containing a great deal of information, it is recommended that “Word Wrap” be turned off. This can be done by opening the “Format” menu and making sure that “Word Wrap” does not have a check next to it.

Notepad is not the only program that can be used to view the contents of a CSV file as text, but it is included on all Windows machines. Other useful programs to view a CSV file like this are TextPad and NotePad++ which display line numbers as well as provide users with other useful functions.

Tips for formatting a CSV file

In this section, we will review some helpful tips for formatting a CSV file.

  • In a CSV file, each line is ONE record. In the examples used in this post, each line in the file used represented one student and the information relating to that individual student.
  • Each delimiter used within the CSV file separates two values. “MALE,15” or “MALE, 15” both represent the values “MALE” and “15”.
  • There must be as many values in a record (on a line) as there are column headers.
  • Two commas next to each other represent a null/blank value corresponding to the column that would be in the next column header.
  • Commas can be recorded in a CSV file ONLY if the value containing the comma is enclosed in parentheses. For example, in an address where there is a specific apartment, the value should be entered as “Street Address, Apt. 1” or “Brown, Jr.”.
  • Leading or trailing spaces can be recorded in a CSV file ONLY if they are recorded in parentheses (ex: ” String “).
  • Parentheses can be recorded in a CSV file ONLY if the parentheses are themselves enclosed in parentheses (this may sound confusing, but it is simply specified as: “”String””).

We hope that this look into how to better understand CSV files was helpful to you. As always if you have any questions about SCRIBE, including configuring your records into CSV files for our import process, please send us an email at SCRIBESupport@xcalibur.com.

Xcalibur SCRIBE for GEAR UP iPad Giveaway Results!

Xcalibur iPad Giveaway

Xcalibur iPad Giveaway Results!

Thank you all for visiting the Xcalibur table while attending the 2012 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop!

We truly hope that the conference provided you with some great information to take back home to your grants.

We also hope that you keep SCRIBE for GEAR UP in mind for your longitudinal tracking needs. If you would like any further information about our product or an online demo, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the information below.

Without further ado, the winner of the iPad is:

ROBERT LEEDY

of Lufkin ISD

Thanks to all who entered the drawing, and we look forward to seeing you at the Annual NCCEP/GEAR UP Conference in July!


Xcalibur, Inc.

1001 19th Street North, Suite 1200

Arlington, VA 22209

Phone: (703) 896-5700

E-mail: SCRIBESupport@xcalibur.com

www.xcalibur.com

 

Meet Up with SCRIBE for GEAR UP at the NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop, February 12th-15th, 2012

2012 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop, NYC, February 2012

Meet up with SCRIBE for GEAR UP

at the NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop
February 12th-15th, 2012

The folks behind SCRIBE for GEAR UP will be at NCCEP’s annual GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop this February 12th-15th, 2012.

We will be hosting breakfast on Monday morning as well as sponsoring the Evaluators Section.

We will also have a booth where you can ask questions directly to Xcalibur staff. If you will be attending the conference, please feel welcome to stop by and ask any questions or leave any comments about your SCRIBE experience. We’d love to meet you personally!