Kentico CMS 5.5 Import Toolkit

Here is a brand new application for importing data to Kentico CMS projects. Try it and give us some feedback.

Hi there,

Kentico CMS SQL Import utility isn't very powerful tool, in fact, I don't think it is usable anymore. That is the reason why it had to be replaced by something else. And by replaced, I literally mean replaced. There is no single line of code that was copied over, this is a brand new project and can do a lot.

How it started

If you do not care, just skip this paragraph.

Few months ago, I was planning to migrate a web site I developed in my student's years to Kentico. To be honest, I didn't do it yet, I am too busy so I still plan that :-)

What is important aspect of this is that this web site is basically made something between ad-hoc ASP.NET CMS targeted to specific purpose, and regular ASP.NET web site.

What is the key thing about it is it's main part doesn't come anything close to what you can find in out of the box standard CMSes, well you can, but not with these exact needs and simplicity. It is basically a motorcycle community web site with things specific to that which includes Forum that isn't really a forum in a standard way, but more Question -> Answers, they are interconnected. There are profiles with motorcycles where users can do pretty much anything with the content from live site, and all that in a tree structured UI. Advertising section, Chat, Events, Journey reports, and much more.

Simply said, lot of custom tables, custom bussiness layer code, and customized UI. At the time I did that, Kentico wasn't exactly a good fit for it.

What changed from that time is that with Custom tables, Smart search indexes over them and User contributions + few other smaller things, it can be all done, and the web site can really evolve into something much better.

For obvious reasons, I won't publish the URL, it is Czech only anyway and it is quite old now, the redesign will come with migration to Kentico .

Need for import

One way or another, I needed to migrate the data from the old DB to the Kentico. That was the time when I found out that Kentico CMS SQL Import Utility doesn't help much. And I am sure you get the same impression. So I sat down going for the new solution with main goals of importing existing data to Custom tables and Documents.

The new import tool

When I start something, I typically tend to make it as complete as it can be, and for that reason, I extended that first simple version to a much larger application, that is currently planned to be included into next versions of Kentico CMS. Because each project is different and I bet each of you need to struggle with different data to migrate, I am presenting you with the Alpha version of the new Kentico CMS Import Toolkit, and expect nothing less from you than try it and give me some feedback so we can finish it according everyone's expectations.

I would be especially happy if you could try it to check how easy it would be to migrate data from other CMSes you know to Kentico and what we could do to make it easier.

Since this is a very first preview, there is no general documentation on this, and this post will so far be the only documentation that you will get to try it. And it will be very brief. However, I believe the UI is intuitive enough that you may not even need it.

Import wizard steps

In the very first step you can see there is a possibility to load existing profile. This is one of the major differences, you can actually prepare your import settings, even simulate the import at first time and then rerun it with prepared settings. But we will go there later and select New session for start.

The next obvious step is to select where we want to import the data. I took the liberty to include the checkbox that you need to check to confirm that you did backup of your project since this is an Alpha version and may still contain some serious issues. So definitely BACKUP before you try anything!

The step with choice of what you want to import is now much more interesting. Unlike the SQL import utility where you can just import documents, you have following options:
  • Custom table items - Imports the data to specific custom table
  • Objects - There are numerous objects that you can import, the most used are in the default view, you can display all available by checking the box:


  • Documents - You can import the documents either regularly, or as products, in that case, you will get more columns to attach to define the products data and the products will be automatically created as well. You just select the document type you import:


  • Resource strings - Based on some preliminary feedback, we included also the option to import the resource strings, you just select the target UI culture:

With the options where it makes sense, you always select also the site to which you import.

The next logical step is to select the source of the data, which can be SQL server or an XML file. With these two different options, the next step will be a little different.

If you select the SQL server, you basically either choose the table as the source, view, or some specific query:

If you choose an XML file, it provides you with the preview of the file content and choice of the "Table" node name. It basically analyzes the source data and offers anything that looks like:


Offering the table parts. If you put in the serialized DataSet XML file, it can find the tables for sure.

The next step is just preview of the source data to make sure it is what we really wanted:

Once we are ready, we can go for the hardest part which is mapping of the fields from source to target. That is done via grid where you select what source will be used for the given target field. It is pretty smart and matches the fields that look alike by default together by default, so if you preserved the names of the fields or at least their suffixes, it can do almost all automatically:

What you can set in the grid is:
  • Source field or expression - This is the most important part here, and has several options:
    • columnname - e.g. "ItemText" will use the value from specific source column
    • =macroexpression - e.g. "={%ItemText%} - {%ItemOrder%}" will evaluate the macro expression using the source data and put there the resulting value
    • #<source>query - e.g. "#<source>SELECT TOP 1 UserID FROM CMS_User WHERE UserName ='{%SourceUserName%}' " executes the query against source database and puts the result to the field
    • #<target>query - e.g. "#<target>SELECT TOP 1 ... " evaluates the query against the target database
  • Default value - Value that will be used if the source field is NULL
  • FK mapping file - This is a file saved from a previous export that if you provide, it converts the ID field to the new value, I will elaborate on this later.
Then in addition for documents you need to set the target parent path, which supports also all the above expressions so you can make it macro or query based and basically import a tree of documents, not only a flat list.

The last thing on this step is the availability to save the ID mappings. ID mapping is the lookup table [OldID] -> [NewID] that is created by the import from the ID field of the target. The left side is the configured and evaluated source field, the right side is ID of the object after insertion. If you specify the file location and enable to save the mapping, the file will contain such lookup table. Just try that and look at it if it is not yet clear.

What you can do with such file is you can use it for import of the next set of data, to provide it with some reference values that need to be converted somehow, let's see some example:
  • Imagine you have the list of question and list of answers where the answer is bound to the question with a foreign key
  • You want to import both and preserve this binding
  • You first import the questions, and save the ID mapping to the file questions.fkmap
  • Then you import the answers, and use the file questions.fkmap for the FK mapping file of the field that is containing the foreign key
Now it should be clear to you what the FK mapping serves for. It basically provides you a mechanism to translate the foreign keys to the new values so the data remain consistent.

The next step is checking the data and choosing how you want your import to proceed:

You have following options:
  • Import the data - Will do the import
  • Do not import anything - Basically skips the import, this is meant so you can just save the profile without actually importing. Note that you can save the current state of the session to the profile any time by clicking the Save profile ... button
  • Only simulate the import - This is a very useful option that basically does the import to validate the data is correct but doesn't commit any changes so the target DB stays intact.
When you hit import data, you just see the log how it progresses:

Now one of the best things. If anything goes wrong, you can fix it and continue. You just get the dialog with the error message where you can edit the data to the correct values and continue with the import with the fixed data:

Once the import is done, you just have few options how you can continue, including importing next data:

And that is all, no more screens for today!


Here is the Alpha version of Kentico CMS Import Toolkit for downloading: (1.4 MB)

Next steps

The next step is yours, go ahead, try it, give us feedback, and then you can expect to have this part of the default installation, if possible, it will cover all your needs.

Enjoy and see you next time ...
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Martin Hejtmanek

Hi, I am the CTO of Kentico and I will be constantly providing you the information about current development process and other interesting technical things you might want to know about Kentico.


Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi Ralph,

The upgrade is here

Ralph commented on

Will not run for 5.5R2 do you have an upgrade?

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi all,

Updated version of Import toolkit for 5.5 R2 is finally available, read more here:

I am sorry about the delay, we are just too busy with 6.0 features.

Adam Griffith commented on

Hi Martin

We are keen to utilise the import toolkit on a current 5.5R2 project. When do you think this will be available?

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

It should finally be available at the end of this week, we are still tweaking the support for XLSX and CSV

Petar Kozjak commented on

Martin, can we get Import Tool version for 5.5R2? :)

Martin Hejtmanek commented on


Yes we do, Aplha 2 compiled for 5.5R2 should be available on my blog at the end of this month, it will also bring some new functionality.

Jeroen Fürst commented on

Hi Martin! Are you planning to release a new version for 5.5R2? Cheers! Jeroen

Earnie Post commented on

I downloaded and attempted to install the utility, but get the error "You must select a valid target Kentico CMS 5.5 project. Target version is 5.5R2."
I've searched for a newer version, but find none.
Thank you.

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi Jon,

The error you get is probably caused by one of the following things (please check):

1) You have the number of allowed items in the settings of your web site entered with space

2) Culture and formatting settings of your language (Windows settings) makes the integer value to be converted in a wrong way (with spaces between thousands)

Jon Adams commented on

We sometimes get a SQL error like the following when importing. It doesn't seem to be related to the data--changing it still gives the error and it does it for all rows. It is importing into a custom document type, although its pretty basic--just three additional text fields. If we click the Ignore button the import still works fine, but we have to click it for every single row in the import.

An error occured on import: [DataConnection.ExecuteQuery]: Query: DELETE FROM [CMS_EventLog] WHERE ([EventID] NOT IN (SELECT [EventID] FROM [CMS_EventLog] WITH (NOLOCK) WHERE SiteID = 1 000)) AND (SiteID = 1): caused exception: Incorrect syntax near '000'.

("occured" is spelled wrong by the way; should be "occurred".)

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi Jon,

Importing the first 100 rows over and over is a bug, we know about it, we are just too busy at the moment to fix all the reported issues but will surely fix that.

Thank you for the suggestion with the XML, we will consider that.

Jon Adams commented on

The preview mode shows the first 100 rows (which is fine), but it seems that once the import runs it only imports the same first 100 too, instead of all of them. Is this a bug, are we doing something wrong, or by design?

Does saving the import settings save the column mappings settings too?

If the XML isn't formatted correctly, it will fail. (Which is understandable.) But if it's just a matter of an un-escaped ampersand, it would be nice if the system opened a text editor or something to fix it. Or maybe at least listed the whole XML exception to make tracking down the offending syntax line/code easier. (I would say this is low priority though--I wouldn't worry too much about correcting invalid XML. Just a note, that's all.)

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi Carl. We know that there are some issues regarding usage of custom query, if you could send to our support some detailed information just in case this regards to something else, it would be great.

Carl Howarth commented on

Thanks for this tool - I am having difficulty however using an SQL script to import data - for each record that my query returns - the importer is importing the same data 29 times. Is this a known issue?

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Hi, I think you do not allow empty value in one of the fields and such value is missing in the imported data. Could you please send the stack trace or screenshots from that error? You can send them to

shivam commented on

every time I try to import data from sql server I get following error:

An error occured on import: Object reference not set to an
instance of an object.

I created a custom table and was trying to import data in this table..

Any ideas what could be wrong?

AnnE commented on

LOVE IT! I just imported some data from a view in a SQL Server database tucked away in some dusty corner of our corporate network into a custom table in my local dev installation of Kentico - perfectly straightforward. And I'm a real Kentico newbie. This is a wonderful product.

JimS commented on

Regarding my above post on Oracle as a source: I'm just testing a 2-step approach using Microsoft's "SQL Server Migration Assistant 2008 for Oracle" (short SSMA) to get my data into MSSQL and then use your Import Toolkit. Looks good so far.
SSMA is available at There are version for other DB as well.

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

I was thinking about providing option to use custom data provider that you would provide as a DLL just like with the CMS

JimS commented on

That looks very sophisticated, especially that mapping part. I will give it a try, thank you! Have you considered to include ORACLE as a source (I may need that within the next few weeks)? Or at least a "generic database" source option working with individuell SQL queries? That may offer easy migration from Access/VistaDB/MySQL/... based CMSs as well.
Good work, thanks

John commented on

Very nice. I think it would be very helpful if you could call this utility as as console program with parameters a saved import. This way we could use it for scheduled recursive import jobs!


Blasty commented on

Very nice Improvements Martin. I'll attempt to use this in the very near future with some imports to see how it goes. I'm especially happy that it shows progress and lets you fix an error as it comes up. That was one of the main reasons the old tool couldn't be used by me.

Frans Rampen commented on

I'm missing the option to import messageboard messages. Since this is often used as a guestbook it would be very helpful to have the option to import these.

Yasser Abbasi commented on

Yes, it would be great to have the ability to select a CSV or an excel file to import from!

Martin Hejtmanek commented on

Yes, I was thinking about offering CSV as a source as well

bmckeiver-bizstream commented on

Very nice. I had to create something very similar to this for a client of ours. They would receive xls and csv files that contained 1000s of rows of products that had to be imported to their Kentcio CMS site. I also had to tie them all to custom Document Types as well, and it would even create new Document Types that didn't exist. I would suggest having an option to add a csv file along side your xml file option.