Course13:IT Connect - 09.0 Contacts

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Book on Contacts App


The Contacts App

The Contacts App allows you to upload your contacts and provide them to other Apps and phones:
  • the PBX will augment incoming and outgoing call information with a name-id by looking up the calling/called party-id in Contacts (and add them to the CDR information)
  • the phone App will use Contacts to lookup names for outgoing calls
  • the IP phones will use Contacts (via LDAP) to do name resolution for incoming and outgoing calls

Uploading contact information

Before Contacts can provide your contact information to Apps and phones, you must upload it. This is done using the CSV upload function. This is part of the Contacts-Admin App which is screenshot.png ticked in the list of Apps in the Config Admin template.

While we are at that: there is also the Contacts App in the list of Apps which is screenshot.png ticked in the Config User template. This App is nearly identical to the Contacts-Admin App except that it does not allow the import of contact information.

As we have seen before with other Apps, Contacts also has an API that allows other Apps to access contact information. This is known as Contacts-SearchApi in the list of Apps and it is ticked in the Config User template so that all users have access to it.

Add the Contacts-Admin App to your home screen and start it.

Searching for names does not make sense at this point as there are no entries in the database yet.

But you can video2.png import a sample CSV file which we have prepared (download contact-sample.utf8 and save it to your computer):
  • in myApps, start Contacts-Admin (you may want to open it in a separate window)
  • click on the 3 little dots on the upper right
  • click on + Import Contacts
  • select contact-sample.utf8 from your computer
  • confirm the will overwrite ... question
  • type an e in to the search field
  • and eh voilà, you get the results

Phone number format

You need to maintain the phone numbers in your directory in a proper format so that both dialing them from the directory (forward lookup) and resolving incoming numbers to names (reverse lookup) work well.

Fortunately, the rules are not that difficult:
  • numbers must be full international numbers including country code, area code (if you have them in your country) and subscriber number
  • it must start with a plus sign (+)
  • all sort of decoration (such as parentheses (), dashes -, white space etc.) are allowed
  • an extra 0 preceding the area code is ok
  • there must be no international (00) or national (0) access codes
For example, all of these examples
  • +49 (7031) 73009-0
  • +49(7031)73009-0
  • +497031730090
  • +49/7031/730090
  • +49 (07031) 73009-0
  • +49 07031 73009 0
  • +49 (0) 703173009-0
are OK and represent the same phone number.

  • +0049 (7031) 73009-0 (bad international access code 00)
  • 0049 (7031) 73009-0 (no +)
  • 07031 73009-0 (missing country code)
  • +49 7031 73009#0 (# and * are not valid decoration)
are not OK.

Note that some of these formats can still be dialed but reverse lookup will not work.

Maintaining a Contacts File

An input file for Contacts is basically a semicolon (;) separated CSV file.

The first line of this file must contain predefined column headers as follows:


The following lines contain the contact data and must have the same column order as the first line has. The order of the columns does not matter as long as all lines follow the same order. Also, you can remove entire columns (from both the header and the data lines).

This is a quite familiar file structure known as comma separated values (CSV) file. However, one thing makes it a bit difficult: its content must be encoded as UTF8. This is why our sample file uses file extension .utf8.

If you can handle this, it is the format to go with. However, if you think you could easily open and edit this with Excel, then the answer is No, unfortunately not. The reason for this is that Excel expects the file to be encoded differently. If you try to open it with Excel anyway, you will see that the screenshot.png names look strange in parts. Newer Excel versions (2016 and up) can handle UTF8, but it is less than obvious.

Using Excel

Many people do prefer using Excel however. This can be done using a real Excel file where the contact data is maintained. We provide it as contacts.sample.xls. You can download it to your computer.

This file (should be compatible down to Excel 97, we tested it down to Excel 2010) can be edited as usual with Excel screenshot.png without any encoding hassle.

However, you can't upload the file to Contacts. Instead, when you're done editing in Excel, you would click on the Save as UTF8 button which creates an UTF8 CSV file version of your excel file. You can then upload this file.

Maintaining the column headers

The first lines (before the empty line) are considered column headers. You can use Excel's hide row function to hide the header rows in the languages you are not interested in (and also the first line that contains the technical column headers we talked about before). You could even remove these lines, except for the first line and the empty line that follows the header lines. We therefore recommend to rather hide the lines so you do not run the risk of accidentally deleting the wrong ones.

If you do not need a column, you can either hide or delete it (except for the extAnchor column which can be hidden but not deleted, see below).

You can even re-order the columns to better suit your needs.

Using the extAnchor column

When you have a closer look at the provided Excel file, you will notice that the first column (A) is hidden. If you un-hide it, you will see that it has extAnchor as column header.

This column (as described in fish-help.png Concept App Service Contacts) serves to identify a specific entry so that Contacts can relate the line to its internal database entries. Fortunately, you do not need to maintain it yourself. Instead, the Save as UTF8 button will do it for you. The only thing you need to understand is that this column needs to be present in your Excel file. So best just hide it again and forget about it then wink.

Importing contacts from Outlook

Outlook can export contact data to a .csv file. However, it also does not use UTF8 and besides that, the export process is tedious and slow.

But you can simply copy and paste your contact data to Excel. The way to go is as follows:
  • open your contacts in Outlook
  • switch to the List view
  • open your contacts XLS file
  • arrange the columns so that they match the column order in your Outlook view
  • copy the desired contacts
  • paste them in to Excel

Using multiple sources

When you maintain your contacts in multiple sources (for example, you have an Excel file per department), you can upload the data with multiple uploads. When you upload a file, Contacts will first remove all existing contacts which had been uploaded from a CSV with the same file name.

So when you maintain several files with different names, you can upload some of them individually without doing harm to contacts that originate from another file.
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