Importing contacts in PHPList


PHPList is another example of an open source powered software that has all the required features of a complete newsletter manager. Build and maintained by Tincan Ltd., PHPList has reached over 300.000 downloads so far and is the perfect solution for a dozen companies when it comes to personalised mailing list or customer relations management (CRM) systems.

Installing and maintaining a PHPList instance is extremely simple and requirements are modest:

  • GNU/Linux
  • Apache web server
  • PHP version 4.3.x or higher (IMAP module required for bounce processing)
  • MySQL database server version 4.0 or higher

More information about requirements and a complete documentation you can find on PHPList’s website.

In this post I will guide you step by step on how to import a list of contacts saved in any worksheet related document (eg. Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Spreadsheet).

Let’s start by creating a sample spreadsheet with 3 fields: First Name, Last Name and Email. If you want the field Email to match the field email from PHPList database, be careful to match it, since the field is case sensitive. You can insert as many contacts as you wish, to only limit you might encounter is the file size, limited by the memory limit of your server, which can be bypassed by splitting the file in small parts.

You can upload the contacts only from a comma separted value file (CSV), so you need to export the contacts to a CSV file that as the values separted either by a comma or a TAB. The PHPList recommends to use the TAB method.

The requirements of the file structure are minimal, the first row must contain the fields and field names must be exactly the same as the names of the user attributes you created in phpList. However, if you haven’t yet created any user attributes in phpList , you may choose to let phpList create these automatically. In the latter case the attribute names will be based on the field names of the import file.

Now go to PHPList, select ‘Manage Users’ from the admin page. Then select ‘Import Users’ from the list of options.
There are four ways to import existing information:

  • import emails with different values for attributes.
  • import emails with the same values for attributes.
  • import emails from an imap account.
  • import emails from another database.

Before you proceed with the upload, please make sure the temp directory is configured correctly. This block in config.php:

$tmpdir = '/tmp';

A problem that you might encounter is with Microsoft Excel when exporting the contacts. If you choose the TAB method, the exported file doesn’t wrap the values in quotes which will result in not importing correctly the file. Values might be confused with fields in the phpList database.

You have several options when importing contacts:

  • File containing emails
  • Field Delimiter
  • Record Delimiter
  • Test output
  • Show Warnings
  • Omit Invalid
  • Assign Invalid
  • Overwrite Existing
  • Send Notification email

For other or advanced options visit the official website of PHPList:

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