Using row IDs in Excel when importing and refreshing data



When importing data from Excel into Office Timeline, it’s best to add a Row ID column to your worksheet and fill it out with a unique identifier for each of your tasks and milestones. While this is not mandatory for a successful import, it will be very helpful when refreshing data.


This guide will explain all you need to know about using unique row IDs when importing from Excel into Office Timeline. You’ll learn:

A) What Row IDs are and why they’re important
B) How to use Row IDs in your Excel sheet 

Read the whole guide or use the links above to jump to the chapter you’re interested in.


A) What are Row IDs and why are they important?

Think of the Row ID like a fingerprint for each task and milestone in your Excel worksheet. It’s basically a unique identifier that helps Office Timeline distinguish your tasks and milestones and accurately match any changes to them whenever you want to refresh imported data.

Using Row IDs is especially important when, for instance, you have multiple tasks with identical titles in your imported timeline. Without a Row ID, Office Timeline will use the Title column in your Excel file to identify your tasks when refreshing the data.


But, since the tasks have identical titles, when you make a change to any of them (e.g., update an End Date), the add-in will have a hard time figuring out which of the tasks was actually changed, and refreshing your data may result in mismatches or inconsistencies.

Adding a unique Row ID to each task and milestone when importing your Excel file will help prevent such issues during a data refresh. Even if some titles are identical, Office Timeline will be able to accurately tell by the Row ID exactly which item was changed.



B) How do I use Row IDs in Excel?


Adding a Row ID column to Excel is fast and easy, but there are a few details to pay attention to that will ensure a successful import & refresh.

  1. The Row ID needs to be unique to each row (each task and milestone). No two rows in your Excel sheet (whether tasks or milestones) should have the same row ID.identical-row-ids-not-allowed.png

  2. We don't recommend changing the Row IDs you used when first importing your sheet. Each task or milestone should always keep the same Row ID initially assigned to it. That’s because Office Timeline relies on that unique ID to accurately refresh your imported timeline. If you change the IDs used when first importing your data, you will confuse the add-in, which will result in inaccuracies when refreshing.


  3. Make sure not to leave any Row ID cells empty. Once you add a row ID column to your spreadsheet, absolutely all tasks and milestones should have their Row ID field filled out. Those that have the Row ID empty will be considered invalid and will not be imported into Office Timeline.empty-row-id-cells-not-allowed.png

Quick tips:

  • Row IDs don’t necessarily have to be a number, and they don’t need to have a specific order in your Excel file. You can use text IDs too, or a mix of numbers and text, and order them however you wish, as long as they’re unique to each task or milestone and you keep them consistent when updating your sheet.
  • Naming your ID column in Excel as “Row ID” will help Office Timeline automatically detect and map it when importing your data. If, for any reason, it doesn’t map it automatically, you can map it manually in the Map columns step when importing

  • We recommend using Row IDs when first importing your Excel file, so that the add-in can accurately match any changes whenever refreshing data.