Import Flat File to SQL Wizard

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For content related to the Import and Export Wizard, see SQL Server Import and Export Wizard.

Import Flat File Wizard is a simple way to copy data from a flat file (.csv, .txt) to a destination. This overview describes the reasons for using this wizard, how to find this wizard, and a simple example to follow.

Why would I use this wizard?

This wizard was created to improve the current import experience leveraging an intelligent framework known as Program Synthesis using Examples (PROSE). For a user without specialized domain knowledge, importing data can often be a complex, error prone, and tedious task. This wizard streamlines the import process as simple as selecting an input file and unique table name, and the PROSE framework handles the rest.

PROSE analyzes data patterns in your input file to infer column names, types, delimiters, and more. This framework learns the structure of the file and does all of the hard work so our users don't have to.

To further understand the user experience improvement of the Import Flat File Wizard, check out this video:

Prerequisites

This feature is only available on SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) v17.3 or later. Please make sure you are using the latest version. You can find the latest version here.

Getting Started

To access the Import Flat File Wizard, follow these steps:

  1. Open SQL Server Management Studio.
  2. Connect to an instance of the SQL Server Database Engine or localhost.
  3. Expand Databases, right-click a database (test in the example below), point to Tasks, and click Import Flat File above Import Data.

Wizard menu

To learn more about the different functions of the wizard, please refer to the following tutorial.

Tutorial

For the purposes of this tutorial, feel free to use your own flat file. Otherwise, this tutorial is using the following CSV from Excel, which you are free to copy. If you use this CSV, please title it example.csv and make sure to save it as a csv in an easy location such as your desktop.

Wizard Excel

Step 1: Access Wizard and Intro Page

Access the wizard as described here.

The first page of the wizard is the welcome page. If you do not want to see this page again, feel free to click Do not show this starting page again.

Wizard Intro

Step 2: Specify Input File

Click browse to select your input file. At default, the wizard searches for .csv and .txt files.

The new table name should be unique, and the wizard does not allow you to move further if not.

Wizard Specify

Step 3: Preview Data

The wizard generates a preview that you can view for the first 50 rows. If there are any problems, click cancel, otherwise proceed to the next page.

Wizard Preview

Step 4: Modify Columns

The wizard identifies what it believes are the correct column names, data types, etc. Here is where you can edit the fields if they are incorrect (for example, data type should be a float instead of an int).

Proceed when ready.

Wizard Modify

Step 5: Summary

This is simply a summary page displaying your current configuration. If there are issues, you can go back to previous sections. Otherwise, clicking finish attempts the import process.

Wizard Summary

Step 6: Results

This page indicates whether the import was successful. If a green check mark appears, it was a success, otherwise you may need to review your configuration or input file for any errors.

Wizard Results

Learn More

Learn more about the wizard.

  • Learn more about importing other sources. If you are looking to import more than flat files, see SQL Server Import and Export Wizard.
  • Learn more about connecting to flat file sources. If you are looking for more information about connecting to flat file sources, see Connect to a Flat File Data Source.
  • Learn more about PROSE. If you are looking for an overview of the intelligent framework used by this wizard, see PROSE SDK.