How big is your company’s contact database? How many authors has your company ever published? How do you fancy inputting each of them one-by-one into your chosen publishing system?

In academic publishing, a single book can have dozens of authors — even more than a hundred. Who wants to input all of these names one-by-one?

Individually filling in each name and associating it with a work — or even associating fifty authors already in your system with a new work — can be an endless tedium of clicking.

However, the tedium must be endured because each of those fifty authors brings along an interested audience. Each and every one of those names can have a direct impact on sales if it is included in the metadata of the book and disseminated properly into the supply chain. (Even if an ONIX recipient does not read or catalogue 100+ contributors to a work, you still need it in your metadata management system.)

Enough with the tedium! Down with the clicking! The answer to “How many authors is too many?” should be “There’s no such thing.”

Consonance is proud to launch our bulk contact importer, which can bring in brand new contacts, update existing contacts and/or associate contacts to a work via any of the ONIX compliant contributor roles.

You can now import:

  • All contact name fields, whether key names, a single name or an organisation name
  • All address fields, from standard street addressed down to sub-building detail level
  • A biographical note, ISNI number, ORCID, In-house customer ID, In-house supplier ID, Phone number, Fax number, Website, Email address
  • Professional affiliations to existing or new organisations

You can update all of those fields via the Consonance contact ID. You can associate a contact with a work via Consonance work ID and a ONIX contributor role.

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Not only will the contact importer help you get in large amounts of contact data fast, it will validate all the incoming data to make sure that you are getting it right the first time, and corrections won’t be needed in the future.

ORCIDs, ISNIs, email and website formats, ONIX compliant contributor roles and more are all validated before getting into the system; we’re doing sense checks on phone numbers and post code/country matching; we’re checking that the information is not already in the system.

You can be confident that the importer does what you expect it to, because the code is covered by fully automated tests that describe the exact behaviour of what we want the importer to do.

What does that mean? Well, there are 177 examples of expected results that are programmatically checked every time new code is added to the system. If something changes, the test will “break” and the new code won’t be allowed in until the test is fixed. There are 23 scenarios - or overarching user requirements - that are broken down into 270 individual steps that are also checked every time code is changed.

  Scenario: Viewing a contact import error messages
    Given I have uploaded "two_invalid_imports.xlsx" for the client "Fauxbooks"
    And the draft items for the "contact" import "two_invalid_imports.xlsx" have been validated
    When I am on the "error" messages page for "two_invalid_imports.xlsx"
    Then I should see the following messages:
      | Column name | Data                 | Error                    |
      | Website     | iainduncansmithorguk | Website invalid          |
      | ISNI number | 0000 0004 047195     | ISNI must have 16 digits |

We know our importer performs as it should now, and that it will when the system changes in the future, because we’ve created a program to check that it does. Automation is a beautiful thing.

So, once you’ve got your contact data together, challenge the Consonance importer on the question of “How many authors is too many?” Because, to a computer, one takes pretty much the same amount of time as a thousand — and that’s what automating your administrative work is all about.

When I joined Consonance as a developer last year, I said I wanted to build the publishing system I wish I had as an editor. Today, the editorial assistant part of me is doing a happy dance.