Importing location-based or address-based data into MapBusinessOnline is a regular activity for almost every user. Importing data is easy to accomplish. We try to keep things simple, but importing location data is still a process that entails the following basic steps:
- Clicking the “Add to the Map – Dataset” button on the master toolbar,
- Navigating to your data target is stored on your machine or network and selecting the data
- Processing the data through the import wizard, making sure Address, City, State, and ZIP Code in your imported data appropriately matchup to the application’s location buckets
These steps are straight forward, especially for people who’ve imported their own business datasets into other applications before. Online business mapping software is no different. But to help those who get a little nervous about location-data and address spreadsheets, we published a blog describing how to prepare your datasets for import.
The Geospatial Mystique
Mapping and geospatial are technical terms that are practically synonyms. Like the words ‘meat’ and ‘beef’, they refer to the same subject – beef just carries a little more savoir-faire. (Although geospatial was not a word imposed by William the Conqueror.)
Just to de-mystify some geospatial terms for newbies, here’s a glossary of terms that intimidated me when I was but a wee-geo-pup:
- Compass Rose – A map feature that generally tells the map viewer the North orientation on a map and may include other information, like distance scales
- Geocoding – The process of importing location data and plotting points on the map
- GIS – An acronym for Geographic Information System software, better described as mapping software for business and science. Esri.com is the big Kahuna in the GIS industry.
- Location Data – Spreadsheet data that includes location components such as an address, city, state, and ZIP code columns. Location data could also be spreadsheets with Latitude and Longitude columns, a list of ZIP codes, the infamous ‘little black book’ of 1960’s bachelor fame. Sometimes referred to as spatial data
- Navigation Scroll Bar – A digital map tool the enables zooming in and zooming out around a center point. In MapBusinessOnline, the navigation scroll bar is in the upper right corner of the map rectangle
- Radius Search – Within a digital map, use a circle drawing tool to create a circular area within which you can search for data. Radius search is one kind of spatial query
- Spatial Query – Any map-based search for data within a drawn shape or administrative district like a ZIP code. Read more about spatial queries here. Synonym phrases include spatial search, geo-search, and geospatial query. A common application of a spatial query is an internet search for the nearest Starbucks
- Map Geek – See your reflection in a mirror. If you find yourself enjoying your map work, it’s you, my friend
Keepin’ it Easy
To no one’s surprise, I’m often import data into a business map for my work. Repeat data imports help you get familiar with how importing location data works. Map users have options when it comes to importing spatial data.
With my COVID-19 map updates, I repeatedly download nearly identical data every other day. The data is very well attributed with address information. I simply download that data to my Laptop and then import it into MapBusinessOnline. Because the data is well attributed, meaning the addressing is complete, accurate, and consistent, I just click Plot and let the data roll in. I don’t bother going through all the address mapping in the import wizard because I know it will work based on my experience. After it plots, I click Done and move on to my next mapping operation.
If you know your data and your map, you may not have to manually map each address component to the import wizard.
Updating Imported Data
Sometimes a map creator may repeatedly import an updated spreadsheet. The original spreadsheet should include a Unique ID column to enable fast and easy updates with no need to reimport the spreadsheet. Instead, in Map and Data, just click the Edit Gear associated with the layer and the Click Update Dataset from File. Read more about the use of Unique ID Columns here.
This month we updated MapBusinessOnline. The tool now allows the user to update previously imported map datasets without starting from scratch and adding a unique ID column.
- The Map and Data box now contains a Quick Update button for spreadsheets whose formats have not shifted. A unique ID is not required. Try it.
- Alternatively, the user can select the Options button, to the right of the Quick Update button to assign any existing column of data that happens to be a column containing unique numeric data
Frequently Imported Data
MapBusinessOnline also includes access to previously and or frequently imported datasets. These could be resource datasets for your business map, whose data components rarely change and are applied for reference on multiple maps. To quickly duplicate the import of these data sets, choose the From Server option instead of pulling the data from where it is stored on your machine:
- Click Add to Map – Dataset and then Next
- Select the lower (third) option labeled From Server
- Leave the Data Folder dropdown at My Data
- Select your target data from the set of previously imported data listed
- Import by clicking Plot
Did it Import Correctly?
I’ve been using MapBusinessOnline and handling technical support inquiries for almost ten years now. In all that time data import problems were rarely due to MapBusinessOnline issues. Still, we realize users need to feel warm and fuzzy about their data imports. Here are a few suggestions.
- Be aware of how many records you are importing. Just as an import operation finishes, MapBusinessOnline reports how many records have been successfully imported. It should be close to the number of records you expected. (I say ‘close’ because it’s not unusual to have a bad address here and there)
- After import, check the lower left-hand corner of the Data Window. There you will see your total record count noted. Aside – When you filter or query that data the result will show the query segment count and the original quantity
- Review the Data Window view of your imported data. The second column from the left side of the datasheet view describes how well the data ‘geocoded’ or plotted. Green means ‘Great!’ Yellow signifies ‘could be better.’ And a Red X means try again, your data didn’t plot
- Some day there will be a Jeopardy question, “What is MapPoint software?” Old Microsoft MapPoint data is just that – Old. Some of those ZIP codes have been deleted or changed
Remember, duplicate addresses (or in datasets using ZIP code only geocoding) and ZIP codes will lead to point stacking. Duplicate addresses stack the plotted points, one on top of another, at the exact same location. Click the stack to get a list of points. You may have imported 200 data records and only see fifty points on the map. Look for point stacking.
Being aware of how well your data geocoded saves time in the long run. We all make mistakes. Common importing mistakes include:
- Bad addresses or bad address formatting. MapBusinessOnline requires Address | City | State | Zip. Sometimes importing users end up with many bad addresses. Especially if they inherit the data. Just be aware
- Breakout location components that are stuffed into one spreadsheet field into separate fields – | 19 Norwood Ave Rockport MA | should be |19 Norwood Ave, | Rockport, | MA |. Be especially aware of County and State separations. This occurs most often in CRM or ERP exported data
- Misleading column headers – Make sure the application knows what the column is. Labeling a column as ST or State works. Labeling it a ‘Preferred State’ might not.
- Column formatting in your original data can be an issue from time to time. For example, you may want a number to be listed in a territory label field as text and not summed. In this case, your original data format for that column should be Text
Your data may have something wrong that you can’t identify. It happens. Let us know if you’re having data import issues that you can’t figure out. We’re happy to take a look at your data for you. After all, geospatial awareness starts with accurate location-based data and leads to an accurate business map.
In other words, we’re happy to help.
We recommend users access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App.
The Map App installation is fast and easy. The Map App is a cloud-based service. Once you’ve logged-in you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web Map access. The Flash-based Web Map link will remain available until December 15, 2020.
The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.
Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.
Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!