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Death By a Thousand Clicks

By Bethany Avery, Director

Have you ever felt like it takes a thousand clicks to configure Export Definitions in Blackbaud CRM™? If so, you’re not alone, and today’s “Quick Tip” will bring some much needed relief to this painful configuration.

Export definitions are a requirement any time you want to export “one to many” fields without introducing duplicate rows per constituent or transaction. Whether it’s emails, addresses, attributes, designations, etc. It's quite common to want to output “all” or many of a particular type of data in your export. You may also want to include numerous supporting fields about each data type as well (such as the value itself, the “type” value, the start date, the comment, etc).

For example, let’s say I am pulling a Constituent file, and want to include the constituents’ ten most recent gifts (sorted by date = most recent), and I want the Revenue-ID and Transaction Date in my output. I’d set my Revenue filter to “Number to export = 10”, ordered by Date in Descending order.

If I preview my order, this would give me an orderly set of fields such as the following and I know my data will be sorted in a logical left to right fashion because I selected descending date.

Problem 1: Adding Fields After The Fact

Let’s say a few days later I need to add “Inbound Channel” and “Amount” to my output (because who gets anything perfect the first time anyway, right?!). If I go back and add these fields, suddenly the order is all out of whack with my first fields in the nice 1-10 order, but the new fields automatically tacked onto the end rather than with their respective gift:

This happens every time you add new fields to an export definition, they always go to the end! And clicking all of those fields one by one to move them up to the right place, well, nobody’s got time for that!

To get around this, temporarily go back into your filter and change your “Number to Export” back down to “1”, then toggle over to the column tab to see all 4 fields grouped together:

THEN, go back to your “Number To Export” and set it back to the desired 10, and boom they’re at least all grouped together properly now. In other words, all 4 fields for Gift 1 are together, all 4 fields for Gift 2 are together, etc:

However, you may notice in the screenshot above that we’re now left with a second issue. And that is…

Problem 2: Increasing Your “Number to Export” After the Fact

You’ll notice however that when we jumped from “Number to Export” = 1 back to “Number to Export” = 10, it’s now set the field groups in an arbitrary order of Gift 1 fields, followed by 10, 9, 8, etc. This too happens any time you increase your “Number to Export” and can create confusion for end users consuming your file.

Here again, to move the increasingly long list of fields one by one would be a painful task. So instead we can use that same hack of going back to the number to export and decreasing it to 1, except this time, instead of setting it all the way back to 10, increase it to 2, and then toggle back to your Column ordering as follows:

Then go back and increase it to “3”, and toggle back to Column order. Then again up it to “4”, and toggle back to Column order, and so on and so forth, increasing one at a time until you reach the desired number.

In summary, reset and gradually increase the “Number to Export” to work for you and not against you in column ordering. It can without a doubt save time when you find yourself working with export definitions containing hundreds of fields as I often do. In those cases, I’ll take 15 clicks over 500 any day!


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