Getting OpenOffice To Play Nice With Ebay File Exchange

by vitalbodies on June 21st, 2009

Getting OpenOffice To Play Nice With Ebay File Exchange

VitalBodies recently made the transition from listing items on ebay one by one, to using File Exchange to do bulk uploading and editing of listings. Not being familiar with Spreadsheet programs like OpenOffice, spread sheets or File Exchange presented a rather steep learning curve. In fact, the learning curve was so steep at some points it seemed more like a brick wall with no way to pass through. With a LOT of help from the kind staff at Ebay (thank you Cheyenne V) we were able to create a file of some of our listings that would at least upload. Where the next set of problems began is that upon opening the file and making the most simple change (like changing the shipping weight of an item) and saving the file, it would no longer upload.

An unknown Error has occurred try again later.

Our CSV (at the time) was the default comma separated spread sheet that used the quote (“) as the text delimiter and Unicode (UTF-8) character set. Within OpenOffice the spread sheet looked perfect. When the staff at ebaY would examine the file in Excel the spread sheet look perfect to them also. Their main comment was always “you just need to make sure the zip code column is set to custom rather than number so that it will preserve zip codes that start with a zero. When we do that the file uploads fine.

So around and around we went, trying to upload, and having the file fail, and then sending the file back to ebaY, and them sending it back again saying it was fine.

Finally angelesbrotherscycles in the forums said:

Here’s 2 annoying things about your situation:

1) OpenOffice apparently will always double quote everything. The double quotes are fine – except that….

2) File Exchange seems to not like double quotes in the first line – probably because they mean something special for setting defaults.

Open the file you’re going to upload in something other than OpenOffice, remove the double quotes (you can find / replace the ” character with nothing), and try uploading.

We tried that and could not get the problem to go away but it was clear they were onto something. If you opened the spreadsheet in a text editor there were lots more ” than the file ebaY would send back out of Excel.

One other clue that was pointed out is that OpenOffice does not open a CSV, instead it seems to import it. Thus you have to select (every time) your delimiters.

Unfortunately though we had hit our limit, we had been trying for so so long. Plus we do not know OpenOffice all that well and the intricate ins and outs of File Exchange.

Then came Keith’s Online Sales to the rescue!

Keith agreed to look over our file and see if he could get it to upload. After some time and effort the file would upload yet would get a 100% failure rate with parsing errors.

This was a break through, because at least the file would upload!

He took the file even further and got it to upload with a 100% success rate!

Wow, what a HUGE break through! We were so excited!

Next we just needed to test the file on our own and make sure we could OPEN, EDIT and SAVE the file without breaking it again.

With careful instruction we were able to.

The trick was to make the file TAB delimited with no text delimiter at all.

The fields that needed to be TEXT (like the title and description) had to have the ” added manually in the field within the spreadsheet like this: “Futon Mattress TWIN 3″” Pure Virgin Wool Organic Cotton “.

Note how the 3″ (three inches) has to have a second ” and the whole text phrase has to be within “”.

Obviously you have to have all the required headers and such as required by ebaY, but we had already been down that road earlier and our file was compliant.

As a thank you VitalBodies made Keith some new fun logos and graphics for his ebay store:

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

keiths online sales

From Computing

3 Comments
  1. top secrete permalink

    Guys, just wanted to say thanks. Have been struggling with this very problem for days. Like you say it is the format that OO saves the data in. Simply use good text editor (Kate) to replace the double quotes with single quotes and it uploads fine.

  2. Hey guys – thanks for keeping this up there – I was having the same problem, and was pointed at your site by my friendly FileExchange rep at eBay – good work!

  3. Hi,
    Good article and a problem many have faced

    For sellers that require an easier approach to dealing with File Exchange, a new approach of directly transforming exports from stock/inventory systems or spread sheets into the File exchange format has been developed.

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