Send mail to the author(s) E-mail

View Richard Soeteman's profile on LinkedIn

RSS 2.0 | Atom 1.0 | CDF




The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

Sign In


# Friday, 16 April 2010
Friday, 16 April 2010 14:09:04 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( CMSImport | Umbraco )

This Blog is not active anymore, further posts will be available on my company website. Read new posts here

When I released CMSImport 1.0 two months ago, I briefly described the FieldAdapters feature that  I was going to build for version 1.1. Today I want to go more into detail about the FieldAdapters feature for CMSImport.

The problem

The reason I started to think about fieldadapters was because I wanted to solve a very common problem. As you might know Umbraco only accepts three kinds of  data; string, integer and datetime. What happens when you try to map a boolean value to  a yes/no Umbraco datatype? An exception is thrown.  The following screenshot contains several products that we want to import into Umbraco.


When we’ve mapped the InStore column to a yes/no datatype the import will fail because it can’t map the boolean value to a 0 or 1 and we will see the following ugly screen


And a FieldAdapter can fix that?

Yes a fieldadapter inspects the value and tries to parse it, in this case it will try to pares a true/false value to 1/0, best to explain by exploring the source code. The whole feature is based on the new IFieldAdapter interface.

using System;

namespace CMSImportLibrary.Interfaces
    /// <summary>
    /// Implement the IFieldAdapter interface to convert an mallformed field to a correct type.
    /// </summary>
    public interface IFieldAdapter
        /// <summary>
        /// Contains the GUID of the datatype we want to parse using this FieldAdapter
        /// </summary>
        Guid DataTypeId { get; }

        /// <summary>
        /// Parse the data 
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="value">The value to parse</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        object Parse(object value);

As you can see in the code snippet the interface contains the property DataTypeId. The value needs to correspondent to the Id (GUID) of the datatype you are creating the fieldadapter for. During the import a factory inspects the underlying datatype of the document property, if a fieldadapter is found it will execute  the Parse method. This will work on all Umbraco datatypes (also custom datatypes or datatypes from third party packages) as long as you know the Id of the datatype. You can find the id by opening the datatype in Umbraco, there you see the RenderControl .


When opening the source code of the rendercontrol you’ll see the Id of the datatype (a GUID). Don’t worry if you can’t open the source code of the datatype i’ll add the Id’s of all known datatypes to the documentation of CMSImport and I’ll make a free tool that shows the Id of any datatype.

Implementation of the BooleanFieldAdapter

Now enough with all the boring stuff, let’s see the fieldadapter in action. Below you’ll see the implementation of the BooleanFieldAdapter. I’ve mapped the id of the True/false datatype to the DataTypeId property so CMSImport knows that it needs to call the Parse method during the mapping of a yes/no document property. In the Parse method I simply check if the value is already in the correct format , if not it will try to convert the value to 1 or 0 and return that , otherwise it will just return the original value.

using System;
using CMSImportLibrary.Interfaces;

namespace CMSImportLibrary.FieldAdapters.DefaultFieldAdapters
    public class BooleanFieldAdapter : IFieldAdapter
        #region IFieldAdapter Members

        public Guid DataTypeId
            get { return new Guid("38b352c1-e9f8-4fd8-9324-9a2eab06d97a"); }

        public object Parse(object value)
            if (!(value.Equals("0") || value.Equals("1")))
                bool boolValue = false;
                if (bool.TryParse(value.ToString(), out boolValue))
                    return boolValue ? 1 : 0;
            return value;


Now when we run the import  again it will just import the data without any errors, just by adding a few lines of code, isn’t that powerful?

Beyond fixing problems

Now that we have this mechanism we can also use it to modify data during the import. Let’s say we import a piece of content from an old site that contains an image tag. This will just run fine but when you have a reference to an image on your old site and  you delete that old site all the references to the images are dead. FieldAdapters can help solve this issue by inspecting the text, extract the image tags, import these images into the media library and update the image tag with a reference to the media item. This will really help keep your site consistent. The same applies for Upload fields.

Will all of this be included in the free version of CMSImport also?

All FieldAdapters that fix errors (Like the BooleanFieldAdapter) will be included into the free version of CMSImport. FieldAdapters that helps you updating the content will only be included in the PRO version of CMSImport. And again you can also create your own FieldAdapters, free for both versions.

This will be the major feature of the V1.1 release of CMSImport. Please let me know what you think about this feature.