Converting, filtering, and importing files and metadata using CFML and Javascript

So many file formats! So much data! So much stuff! A single developer versus a tricky problem: Get products into our database without causing our staff to go insane. What was needed? A sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, system to import metadata from the world’s leading educational publishers.

As a distributor of content from many different suppliers, we wanted a flexible system to allow us to receive files and product metadata in many different and varied formats. Some suppliers, because of their size, can dictate the format in which they supply the data. For others, we give them a standard format, which has changed over time.

Some time ago, we realized that taking the incoming data and converting it ourselves and, in some cases, possibly even carrying out manual data entry would be a living nightmare.

We needed a system that would grow with us as we accumulated more suppliers and allow us to convert the metadata provided into a common format. This common format is then imported, processed, and pushed into our database in a guided, but multistep process.

The system, known unimaginatively as Product Import, revolutionized the way our Product Team deals with incoming metadata and files, allowing us to get them into our backend systems and, ultimately, sell them on to business schools.

This will be a behind-the-scenes look at how we accomplish the task of getting square pegs into a round hole on a daily basis!