Import Samples into Inventory 🧪

Inventory Beta is available to all existing and new Enterprise customers, and will be available to Community users in the near future. Learn more at the RSpace Inventory Hub.


You can bulk import your samples into Inventory by uploading a CSV file. This article explains how to prepare your existing sample data as CSV, and how to perform an import in Inventory.

The import process is as follows:

  • 1. you'll need to export your existing data as CSV, and ensure it fits the CSV format requirements
  • 2. you need to decide whether imported samples should be based on pre-existing sample template, or a new template auto-generated during import process. Using a pre-existing template gives more flexibility in deciding the field definitions and default values, but you'll need to make sure that samples you try to import are exactly matching the template definition. Auto-generated sample template will match content of CSV file automatically.
  • 3. you'll be able to upload the CSV to Inventory. During import you can decide whether to use an already existing, or auto-generated template, you can also specify which columns you want to import and what data type each column should have.

Here's an overview of importing samples into a new auto-generated template:

1. Export your sample data as CSV

CSV is a common format for table-type data; any spreadsheet software should be able to export data as CSV.

CSV format requirements

  • First row has to be a row containing column names. No columns in the header row can be blank
  • All rows must have the same number of columns
  • All columns must contain non-blank values
  • Blank rows are ignored
  • Blank values are fine
  • Maximum number of rows is 1000

You can download example.csv (if it downloads as example.csv.xls, please rename it to example.csv before opening) and open it in your spreadsheet software to see how the data looks, as well as try importing it to get a feel for the process.

Export as CSV in Google Sheets

In Google Sheets, you can do this by going into File -> Download -> Comma-separated values (.csv)

Export as CSV in Excel

In Excel, you can do this by going into Export -> Change File Type -> CSV (Comma delimited)

2. (optional) Prepare a Sample Template to be used for imported samples

This step is optional, you can skip it and import into auto-generated template instead.

Auto-generated template is a quick way to get your samples into the Inventory, but creating a custom template upfront gives you some benefits:

  • full control on field types, default values, and possible options on radio/choice fields
  • way to define some additional properties on template level, e.g. Quantity Unit
  • way to import from multiple CSV files and still have samples that all link to a single sample template. If you have multiple CSV files, and keep using an auto-generated template for each file, the samples imported from different files will have no connection to each other.

The downside is that you must ensure that your template definition actually accepts samples you try to import from CSV file. Auto-generated sample template will match content of CSV file automatically.

See our documentation on how to Create and Use Sample Templates 🧪. The sample template used for import must follow a few rules so the incoming CSV file is considered valid:

  • the number of template fields must be the same as the number of columns in CSV file (not counting the CSV columns that will be put into core sample fields, e.g. name, expiry date, etc.).
  • the template fields must be named and ordered the same as columns in CSV file
  • the template fields must have types and definitions matching incoming CSV lines

3. Import your samples into RSpace Inventory

We will be using example.csv for this example import. If the example file downloads as example.csv.xls, please rename it to example.csv before importing.

  1. Click on Import -> Samples in the inventory sidebar

  1. Click on Choose CSV file to upload your CSV
  1. If you want to use auto-generated template, keep Create new template option selected, and set the template name for the new template.
    If you want to import samples using pre-existing template, select it on Choose existing template listing.
All the samples imported in the same CSV will share a sample template; if you wish to assign different templates to some samples, you will have to create separate CSVs for each sample type and import them separately.
  1. The table displays all the columns that were found in your CSV, and enables you to choose what Inventory field type each will be converted to during import. You can use the checkboxes to select which columns you wish to import.
  1. To perform an import, you must set one column to convert to the Name of the sample. To change the field type of a column, click on the dropdown and select a type:

Inventory suggests different field types based on the data in the columns, which you can change. The data format rules used for suggestions and available field types for a column are described in the table further down this page.
  1. If you select Custom field, the view will expand so you can rename the column, and select from the field types available.

Clicking on the custom field type will give you a dropdown of field types that are available for that column. See the table further down this article for information on the rules used to determine which field types are available for a column.

  1. You can use the arrow on the right to expand or close the custom field options view.
  1. Once you are done assigning field types, click on Import.
  1. You will get a success message if your import has succeeded. Clicking on the dropdown arrow will show you the list of uploaded samples, with clickable global IDs. The imported items are placed on your Bench, which you can sort by last modified to view the newly imported items. If your import is unsuccessful, please view the troubleshooting guide below.

Troubleshooting Guide

While we have tested import extensively, it is a new feature and thus might contain some bugs. If you're having issues, please email us with your CSV file and we will investigate!
  1. Check that your CSV fits the format requirements.
  2. Expand the warning message for details on why the import failed:
  1. Check if any of the fields in your CSV contain commas (eg. 1, 3); these should be enclosed in quotes (eg. "1, 3") to be treated as a single value. This is due to CSVs using commas to separate columns, and the presence of commas in fields causing a conflict.

Rules for field type suggestions

Inventory suggests different field types for CSV columns based on predefined rules. The first matching rule is used as a field suggestion. You can always change the field type of the CSV columns during import.

Column properties

Suggested field type

Types you can change the field into

All values are empty or whitespace

Plain text

Radio (if < 20 distinct values), Formatted text

Any value is longer than 100 characters

Formatted text


All values in a column are dates in the ISO-8601 format (e.g. 2021-01-29)


Radio (if < 20 distinct values), Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text

All values in a column are integers or real numbers


Radio (if < 20 distinct values), Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text

All values in a column are in the HH:mm time format (e.g. 13:42)


Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text

All values in a column are URLs (e.g.


Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text

There are no more than 20 distinct values in the column, and there are repeated values


Choice, Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text

Is not suggested, but can be switched to from a Radio field


Radio, Plain text (if < 100 characters), Formatted text


Plain text

Radio (if < 20 distinct values), Formatted text

Rules for mapping into core sample fields

You can map CSV file columns into some of core sample fields: Name (required), Description, Tags, Source or Expiry Date. Below are the rules for deciding if column can be used for a given core sample field mappings.

Core sample property

Required format


plain text


plain text

Expiry Date

ISO date format, e.g. '2030-12-22'




plain text

For CSV columns matching the format the mapping options will be enabled in Convert To dropdown.

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