Knowledge Base

Import Content From XML

Last Modified:
09 Jan 2019
User Level:

The Content Syncer doesn't just work with databases; you can use CSV and XML files as the source. XML import supports RSS and you can use CDATA too.

These are the steps to follow when creating syncing an XML file with TERMINALFOUR.

Since TERMINALFOUR v.8.2.1, an XML driver is included in the product so there is no need to install an additional one.
Contact support if you need advice on this.

1. Copy the XML File to your CMS Server

Copy the XML File to the CMS server, e.g.: 


If your XML is located on a different server, ensure that it is accessible by the CMS. 

2. Configure the Data Source 

To set-up the Data Source, you’ll name it and provide the file and driver locations.

Go to System Administration > Configure Integration Tools > Data Sources and populate the fields.

Screenshot of the Data Source screen with an XML source



A meaningful name for the Data Source.
This is required.
Staff Profile Data Store
Username You can provide a username here if required.  
Password You can provide a password here if required.  

The url encoded URI at which the XML file or directory of files is accessible.

This must be a location accessible by the CMS.

This can either point to the directory containing the XML file, to the file itself or to an external address at which the file can be found.

The correct prefix corresponding to the XML driver must be used in front of the URI.

This is required.

If pointing to a directory on a Linux server:

If pointing to a directory on a Windows server:

If pointing to a single file 'course data.xml' on a Linux server:

If pointing to a single file course data.xml on a Windows server:

If pointing to an external XML file: jdbc:xmlservice:

Driver The name of the driver used for CSV files. This is required. This is always:


3. Create a Content Type (if required)

If you haven't one created already you'll need to create a Content Type for the External Content Syncer to store the information that is currently in the XML File. For example, we could create a "Course Details" Content Type with the following elements:

Element Name   Element Type
ID Plain Text
Name Plain Text
Faculty Plain Text
Lecturer Plain Text
Award Plain Text

4. Setting up the Content Sync

Once the XML has been successfully set up as a Data Source, the content is extracted with SQL (Structured Query Language). To add the SQL go to System Administration > Configure Integration Tools > External Content Syncer.

For details on External Content Syncer General Settings, refer to the page in the documentation.

Select Create New Data Store and apply the following settings :

Name Give the Data Store a meaningful name (e.g., Course Data from XML)
Description Provide a description of the import
Data Source: From the drop-down select the name of the XML Data Source you configured
Root Section Select the Section where content will be imported to
Channel Select a Channel that will publish the content 


Configure other options as appropriate (see documentation on the External Content Syncer for further information)

SQL Query

Add SQL here to select the content to sync.

Before creating your SQL statements it's worth being aware of the following:

  • the FROM clause uses the XML element name rather than a table name
    • i.e., to return all course content from an element named 'course', use SELECT * FROM course
  • child elements, child element attributes and element attributes are treated as Columns
  • Table Name Column mappings are case sensitive. "name" is not the same as "NAME"
  • all Table Name Columns must exist in the data source
  • SELECT statements can select just one or all columns 
    • SELECT * FROM course or SELECT name FROM course will both work
    • SELECT id, name FROM course will not 

Screenshot of External Content Syncer settings for XML

Using SQL

Here's a sample XML file:

Screenshot of sample XML

SELECT * FROM course 

will return the following:

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA


In this example, the course names use CDATA sections to prevent parsing of entities:

Screenshot of XML sample with CDATA sections

To decode an HTML entity, use the custom DECODE keyword:

SELECT * FROM course DECODE name

Date Elements

For date elements to work in Content Syncer the dates must be in the format:: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS

If a column has a custom date format the driver can cater for that using the custom keywords DATE_ELEMENT and DATE_FORMAT

Screenshot of an XML sample with date

SELECT pubDate FROM course DATE_ELEMENT pubDate DATE_FORMAT "EEE, dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss z"
2018-10-01 11:48:00
2018-09-25 10:36:00

Duplicate Element Names

The following XML has two elements with the same name (x-trumba) and namespace (customfield): Screenshot of XML with duplicate element names

Namespaces in your XML should be declared. In this case, the elements with namespaces are generated by the Trumba event calendar software and the root element (catalog) contains a link to the XML schema. Your Data Source will not connect successfully to an XML source with namespaces that does not contain a namespace declaration. The link to the namespace schema does not have to resolve. 

Since column names have to be unique, you could use the custom keyword DUPLICATE_COLUMN_IDENTIFIER to name the column with the value of a specified attribute value. In this case, it's the name attribute with a value of "Event Title":

SELECT * FROM course DUPLICATE_COLUMN_IDENTIFIER x-trumba:customfield$name = Event Type

When mapping your types, you can enter x-trumba:customfield as the Table Column Name

Screenshot of Type Mapping with Duplicate Column Identifier

When the sync is run, the following is output:

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01... Lecture
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25... Tutorial

With the DUPLICATE_COLUMN_IDENTIFIER, we can select a single element that has duplicates based on an attribute value in that element.

Duplicate Column Appender 

You may want more than just one of the duplicates to be returned and in that case you can use the DUPLICATE_COLUMN_APPENDER keyword to provide more flexibility. In addition to returning the content of multiple duplicate elements we can also return the value of attributes.

If you were unsure of an attribute value but knew the position of the duplicate you wanted to use, an index is appended to the Table Column Name. Here is the SQL statement:

SELECT * FROM course DUPLICATE_COLUMN_APPENDER x-trumba:customfield

An index number is appended to the Table Column Name that can be mapped. In this instance, we are just looking for the second duplicate:

Screenshot of the Type Mapping screen showing a Table Column Name with the index number appended

This returns the following:

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01... Introduction to Law
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25...  History Of Ethics

So, without know the value of an attribute value we have returned element content based on its position. We're not just limited to a single Type Mapping:

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01 11:48:00 Lecture  Introduction to Law
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25 10:36:00  Tutorial  History Of Ethics

If you know the value of an attribute, you can change the query:

SELECT FROM item DUPLICATE_COLUMN_APPENDER x-trumba:customfield$name
CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01... Lecture
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25...  Tutorial


You may have spotted that the space has been removed from "Event Type" in the Table Column Name. This is required for it to work. 

Returning Attribute Values

You can also return the values from attributes. In this example, the index is used and a dollar sign and the attribute name are appended to the Table Column Name after using this query:


Screenshot of of the Type Mapping screen with duplicate element highlighted

In this instance the following is returned:

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01... 8880
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25...  9364

An attribute value can also be used:

SELECT FROM item DUPLICATE_COLUMN_APPENDER x-trumba:customfield$name

CR145 Business and Law Business Prof. Sara Connors BBL 2018-10-01... 8880
CR468 Philosophy Humanities Dr. Steve Peters BA 2018-09-25... 9364


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