Generic CSV Format

A CSV file is a common way to allow someone to add their address book from an unusual source. They can be generated automatically by online address books or desktop clients. There are common formats like the ones generated by Google or Microsoft but there is no standard that everyone adheres to.

Without a common standard, it’s hard to know how to instruct your users to generate their CSV file so that it will be properly ingested by CloudSponge. Read on, and I’ll explain how we handle parsing CSV files.

How CloudSponge parses CSV files

Firstly, we attempt to parse the CSV file according to a commonly used format. If your system has an option to export data as an Outlook Contacts CSV or a Google Contacts CSV, either one of these will be accepted properly by our system.

Beyond this, things get a little more complicated (for us). If we find that the file doesn’t correspond to a well-known format, we’ll read the headers to guess at the meaning of each of the columns. For example,

Our system treats any column with email or e-mail in the header as an email address. A column with first name or last name is mapped to the appropriate name field.

If we encounter headers that match an array field (email, phone, address) we will handle multiple fields by appending them to the array.

We also do our best to handle this for multiple languages.

Simple example

The simplest CSV has just a single column with an email field. But typically, each row may also include a first and last name. Here’s what that basic example file might look like:

first name, last name, email
George, Bluth,

Didn’t work?

If you find a CSV format that you think should work with CloudSponge, send a sample of it to Be sure to include the header row and a row of example values. We’ll do our best to enhance our parsing logic to work for your file.

An alternative

Some systems will export contacts as VCard data. A VCard is usually saved with a .vcf file extension. VCards have a flexible standardized format that CloudSponge handles well. VCard is preferable to CSV if it is an option for you.