Importing and Exporting Data

How to export a map

If you are working with and you'd like to export it, you can click the import/export icon at the top of the page. This pops up a dialog box for import/export, including two buttons. The first option is for a JSON export. This stores the data on all of the topics and synapses on the map (including the positions of the different topics). This is an excellent choice if you'd like to save a backup of a map that could be restored in the future.

The other button is for a CSV spreadsheet export. You can open this in Excel, which makes it an excellent choice if you're hoping to do calculations with the data, sort/filter it, or even edit it using all of the tools of Excel.

You can also navigate in your browser to any of the following urls to get the same effect:

How to import a map

If you've exported a map as described above, there are a number of ways to import that data back into Metamaps.

  1. You can open the import/export dialog and upload the JSON or CSV file
  2. You can drag the JSON or CSV file onto the map canvas
  3. You can copy-paste the data from Excel and paste it onto the map canvas with Ctrl+V or Cmd+V.

Customizing your imported data

The import function is quite flexible; all of the header fields are optional except name. For reference, here is the full list fields you get when you export a map and their meanings:


  • Id - this will be ignored on import, but can be used when importing synapses to refer to this topic explicitly.
  • Name - (required) the title of the topic, visible on the main map view.
  • Metacode - the name of a metacode, like "Action". The default is "Wildcard" if this is omitted.
  • X - x coordinates of the topic on the map.
  • Y - y coordinates of the topic on the map. If x or y is left out, the topics will be automatically positioned near the centre of the map.
  • Description - the long text description visible on a topic card. Default is no description.
  • Link - a url to attach to the topic card.
  • User - will be ignored on import and replaced by your account
  • Permission - "commons", "public", or "private". By default the topic will inherit its permission from the map it is imported to.


  • Topic 1 - (required) Either the id of a topic from the same spreadsheet or the name of a topic already on the map
  • Topic 2 - (required) Either the id of a topic or the name of a topic already on the map
  • Category - (required) this must be one of "from-to", "both", or "none".
  • Description - the text displayed when rolling over a synapse. Default is no description.
  • User - will be ignored on import and replaced by your account
  • Permission - "commons", "public", or "private". By default the synapse will inherit its permission from the map it is imported to.

Creating data to import into Metamaps

Once you are familiar with the import format, it isn't too hard to create new data to import into a map. The minimum requirement for topics is to include a Name, and the minimum requirement for synapses is to include Topic 1 and Topic 2. All of the other fields can be left out. You can use Excel to generate a CSV, or you can even open up Notepad and type something like


Me,,from-to,"is using"

You can save this as a CSV and upload it to Metamaps using the import dialog, or even copy-paste the text into the map canvas with Ctrl+V or Cmd+V. If you are trying to import a lot of data at once, you can use import as a way to transfer a lot of data at once.

We have found that creating topics is often easier using import, but creating synapses is generally easier when using the interface. You could even do a workflow like:

  1. Create a bunch of topics in Excel
  2. Import them into a map in Metamaps
  3. Create synapses between the topics
  4. Export the data into Excel again
  5. Add descriptions to the topics and synapses
  6. Create a new map, or delete the data from the old map, and then import your data from Excel again

The possibilities are endless!

The instructions above say that the Name field is required when importing topics, but it is also possible to import a list of links. For example, if you were using the Notepad method, you could type something like


Pasting this text into a map with Ctrl+V or Cmd+V would generate a number of topics. Because the Name field is empty, Metamaps will visit that web page, locate the title, and update your topic.

You can also copy-paste links and paste them directly into the map canvas, without the CSV headers. It should even be possible to drag bookmarks from your browser's bookmarks bar onto the map canvas and have them imported into the map! This can help if you're gathering data from around the web and want to drop the links into a map.

results matching ""

    No results matching ""