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Import CSV data


CSV import can be easily achieved through PHP's built-in fgetcsv() method, but this method doesn't know anything about your datamodel. In SilverStripe, this can be handled through the a specialized CSV importer class that can be customised to fit your data.

The CsvBulkLoader class

The CsvBulkLoader class facilitate complex CSV-imports by defining column-mappings and custom converters. It uses PHP's built-in fgetcsv() function to process CSV input, and accepts a file handle as an input.

Feature overview:

  • Custom column mapping
  • Auto-detection of CSV-header rows
  • Duplicate detection based on custom criteria
  • Automatic generation of relations based on one or more columns in the CSV-Data
  • Definition of custom import methods (e.g. for date conversion or combining multiple columns)
  • Optional deletion of existing records if they're not present in the CSV-file
  • Results grouped by "imported", "updated" and "deleted"


You can use the CsvBulkLoader without subclassing or other customizations, if the column names in your CSV file match $db properties in your dataobject. E.g. a simple import for the Member class could have this data in a file:

Donald,Duck,[email protected]
Daisy,Duck,[email protected]

The loader would be triggered through the load() method:

$loader = new CsvBulkLoader('Member');
$result = $loader->load('<my-file-path>');

By the way, you can import Member and Group data through http://localhost/admin/security interface out of the box.

Import through ModelAdmin

The simplest way to use CsvBulkLoader is through a ModelAdmin interface - you get an upload form out of the box.

class PlayerAdmin extends ModelAdmin {
   private static $managed_models = array(
   private static $model_importers = array(
      'Player' => 'CsvBulkLoader',
   private static $url_segment = 'players';

The new admin interface will be available under http://localhost/admin/players, the import form is located below the search form on the left.

Import through a custom controller

You can have more customised logic and interface feedback through a custom controller. Let's create a simple upload form (which is used for MyDataObject instances). You'll need to add a route to your controller to make it accessible via URL (see director).

class MyController extends Controller {

    private static $allowed_actions = array('Form');

    protected $template = "BlankPage";

    public function Link($action = null) {
        return Controller::join_links('MyController', $action);

    public function Form() {
        $form = new Form(
            new FieldList(
                new FileField('CsvFile', false)
            new FieldList(
                new FormAction('doUpload', 'Upload')
            new RequiredFields()
        return $form;

    public function doUpload($data, $form) {
        $loader = new CsvBulkLoader('MyDataObject');
        $results = $loader->load($_FILES['CsvFile']['tmp_name']);
        $messages = array();
        if($results->CreatedCount()) $messages[] = sprintf('Imported %d items', $results->CreatedCount());
        if($results->UpdatedCount()) $messages[] = sprintf('Updated %d items', $results->UpdatedCount());
        if($results->DeletedCount()) $messages[] = sprintf('Deleted %d items', $results->DeletedCount());
        if(!$messages) $messages[] = 'No changes';
        $form->sessionMessage(implode(', ', $messages), 'good');

        return $this->redirectBack();

Note: This interface is not secured, consider using Permission::check() to limit the controller to users with certain access rights.

Column mapping and relation import

We're going to use our knowledge from the previous example to import a more sophisticated CSV file.

Sample CSV Content

11,"John Doe",1982-05-12,"FC Bayern"
12,"Jane Johnson", 1982-05-12,"FC Bayern"
13,"Jimmy Dole",,"Schalke 04"

Datamodel for Player

class Player extends DataObject {
   private static $db = array(
      'PlayerNumber' => 'Int',
      'FirstName' => 'Text',
      'LastName' => 'Text',
      'Birthday' => 'Date',
   private static $has_one = array(
      'Team' => 'FootballTeam'

Datamodel for FootballTeam:

class FootballTeam extends DataObject {
   private static $db = array(
      'Title' => 'Text',
   private static $has_many = array(
      'Players' => 'Player'

Sample implementation of a custom loader. Assumes a CSV-file in a certain format (see below).

  • Converts property names
  • Splits a combined "Name" fields from the CSV-data into FirstName and Lastname by a custom importer method
  • Avoids duplicate imports by a custom $duplicateChecks definition
  • Creates Team relations automatically based on the Gruppe column in the CSV data
class PlayerCsvBulkLoader extends CsvBulkLoader {
   public $columnMap = array(
      'Number' => 'PlayerNumber', 
      'Name' => '->importFirstAndLastName', 
      'Birthday' => 'Birthday', 
      'Team' => 'Team.Title', 
   public $duplicateChecks = array(
      'Number' => 'PlayerNumber'
   public $relationCallbacks = array(
      'Team.Title' => array(
         'relationname' => 'Team',
         'callback' => 'getTeamByTitle'
   public static function importFirstAndLastName(&$obj, $val, $record) {
      $parts = explode(' ', $val);
      if(count($parts) != 2) return false;
      $obj->FirstName = $parts[0];
      $obj->LastName = $parts[1];
   public static function getTeamByTitle(&$obj, $val, $record) {
      return FootballTeam::get()->filter('Title', $val)->First();

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