ASCII Student Data File FAQ

What's a Student Data File?

This is a file which is generated by your school administration software, and contains certain student information such as firstname, lastname, grade, division, and student#.

What's an ASCII file?

An ASCII file (for our purposes) is another name for a Student Data File (see above). It's actually a plain-text file, readable by all computer types and operating systems. It does not contain any formatting (ie. boldface, page breaks, etc.) except for carriage returns. "ASCII" (pronounced "ASS-key") stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

Who needs to do this?

If you are requesting any digital services such as a CD, school directory, or barcoded ID cards, it is imperative that we receive some information about your students in order for us to identify them. If we do not receive this information, we will be unable to produce digital services for your school. In addition, each students' camera card is prepared in advance on our laser printers as opposed to being filled out manually at the time of photography; this reduces the amount of time each student is away from class.

When should we do this?

We require your data file at least two weeks prior to your photo day. We appreciate that school administrators are extremely busy, particularly in the first weeks of school, but without this data we will not know the identities of the students and therefore would not be able to produce the services that you have requested.

What if not all of the students have registered yet?

If we receive a file with "most" of the students, we can work around it by manually adding those students on photo day. If we receive "no" information we cannot create any digital services.

What is required?

Most school software programs used throughout Canada will contain a list of student names, with grade, division, student number, etc. This list can usually be exported from any of these programs and is called an "ASCII textfile"; this is the computer lingo for saying "a student list including names, grades, divisions, and student numbers", and will look similar to this:

Aikens,Michael,2,11,99037
Atlas,John,4,7,99375
Baker,Cindy,4,8,99121
Cappicola,Victoria,7,1,99847

All information required for your digital services must be included in the ASCII file. For example, if one of your digital services requires phone numbers and library numbers to be displayed, you must provide that information with your ASCII file.

You will also need to include a header in the ASCII file or in your email body, which lists the data fields in the exact order that they appear. This tells us what each of the data fields are, and is especially important for differentiating between grades and rooms, or home and work phone numbers. Here is an example of a header:

firstname,lastname,grade,room,student#

Some programs, such as Turbo-School, automatically include a header in the ASCII file.

Please send a single file which includes ALL students, and NOT a separate file for each grade or teacher.

Following the instructions below will allow you to export a file similar to the above example, which is a "comma-delimited" textfile. Textfiles can also be "tab-delimited", which uses tabs rather than commas to separate the data fields. The proper file extensions are .txt or .csv.

We can also accept MS-Excel spreadsheet files, any version, as long as it contains only columnized text (ie. no formatting, borders, etc.). The proper file extension is .xls.

Note: If you are receiving services which require a library number, and your library program requires student numbers to be zero-padded to more digits than your student number, you must provide library numbers in that fashion in your ASCII file, in addition to your student numbers. For example, the student# data field would contain the normal student number for use with your school admin software, and the library# data field would contain the same number but with the required zero-padding. Unless your school admin software is tied to your library software, you will likely have to manually add this field (via MS-Excel or similar). Remember to include a header so that we know what each data field contains. Please contact your IT support person if you require assistance with this step.

In the following example, the student number is 5 digits, and the library number is the same number but zero-padded to 6 digits.

firstname,lastname,grade,room,student#,library#
Smith,John,03,21,12345,012345

Please include staff names in your ASCII file. At your option, you may include the staff names as a separate file in the same email, or in an email that immediately follows your student data. Acceptable file formats are standard ASCII text files and MS-Excel files. Staff names can also be incorporated (typed directly) into the body of the email; please separate first and last names with a comma and do not use a space. Type each staff name on its own line.

Examples:
John,Smith
Mr. John,Smith
J,Smith

Due to the large number of different computer and software formats and the volume of files we receive during the start of the school year, we require that you send only standard ASCII textfiles or Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Files.

We cannot accept files from WordPerfect, ClarisWorks, or files in any other format such as PDF.

How can I do this?

If this student list can not be generated by your school board, the instructions below will help you through the process. We suggest that the file be exported to a floppy disk (normally the a: drive) as it will be easy to locate.

How can I provide the file?

Can we send you a fax or printout of the students instead?

Sorry, we cannot accept hard-copy (paper) lists. We can only accept computer data files as described above. It is not possible for us to manually enter all the information in time for your photo day.

For additional information or assistance, you can email our Digital Department. If you are in Greater Vancouver you may telephone us at 604-433-0551, ext.122. For all other areas, our toll free number is 1-888-644-4494 ext.122.

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