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Importing items that reference another collection

Ok so I have a collection of “Providers” and a collection of “Articles”. As I bring new Articles in via csv Import is there a way I can have the “Providers” automatically map to the referenced collection so that I don’t have to go into the individual items and set the provider one at a time?

Here is my public share link: LINK
(how to access public share link)

Good afternoon @Edmund_Bini, I see your concern and unfortunately to answer your question would be NO. Since it is a reference field that you are connecting to your articles you would need to manually attached that field to each article.

I hope you don’t have too many? Yes it will take some time, but it actually pretty easy, as long as the fields are set up properly.

Is there a way to put the actual reference CID as a placeholder in that field?

Hi @Julian_Wan, Reference and Multi-reference fields are the only fields that are not able to be pulled.

Since reference and multi-reference come from other collections.

Best Regards,
~ Brandon

I’ve noticed if I put the value of the corresponding reference item from the referenced collection, when I do a patch request it updates properly.

Is this an error? It’s working now so I guess… problem solved!

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Hi Julian,

Are you saying you figured out a way to make it reference the referenced collection automatically? This is a pretty important feature for what I’m creating so would love to know what your solution was. Thanks!

Has anyone figured out a way to do this? It’s such a deal killer when you are dealing with dynamic data changing all the time it makes webflow so useless to me :frowning:

Why can’t it look for values in the column you specify in the other database or even create them if they don’t already exist?

Hey Blake,

Yes I do this by finding the item ID from the referenced collection (not the CID, but the ID of the individual entry, which is displayed at the bottom of the item from within Webflow’s designer)

Then when I patch an item using Postman (or — in place of any “value” I simply put the ID of the referenced item in the JSON that corresponds with the reference field.

It works great.

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Has anyone figured this out with .csv exports? Or is there are fancy workaround for this? The fact that this isn’t doable is just insane.

No fancy workaround I’m afraid. I’ve done it, but you have to do it through the API.

Hi Julian,

If what you are saying works this would greatly help me out!

Im just having trouble in postman on how I lay this out. If you could please give me an example of how you set this out in postman that would be a massive help.
For context, I am trying to Post a new collection item through postman and reference another collection item. Have you found a way to do this in Post or just in Patch?

I am pretty new to coding so still struggling on certain things.


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sadly this is the one feature that is at this point in time, MOST needed and seemingly quite easy to implement… It baffles me how this is not done yet.

I figured this out. (INSANE that they STILL haven’t made this a feature)

Solution: You need to get the weblfow ID for the collection item you are referencing and import it with Zapier.

  • Take your excel or .csv of collection items with the other fields you want to reference.
  • Import them to webflow WITHOUT the multi-reference.
  • THEN copy/paste that .csv into a Google Sheet.
  • Go get the hidden webflow ID for the multi-references you need using integromat (explained below).
  • Using a =vlookup, add all of the multi-reference IDs in a new column on Google Sheets next to the reference item name.
  • Use zapier to add those all the IDs for every item to the multi-ref field INSTEAD of the name.

How to get the IDs: Get the collection item you want to reference by using (a more powerful zapier)

  1. Create or import one of your collection items and manually choose the reference to the collection that you would have ideally imported in a column. (You may have to do this multiple times depending on how many multi-references you need for one item)

2. Create an Integromat account.
3. Create a new Scenario.
4. Create a new Module, search and choose Webflow and connect your account.
5. Now click the canvas to create a new module, choose Webflow and ‘List Items’ as the action.
6. Fill out all the fields to point it to the correct CMS collection.
7. Click OK, and then right click on the module and select ‘Run This Module Only’.

You will have a data output that you can go look at. Where the collection item you are referencing is, there should be a drop down that you can open up and see. For me, my non-profit category of “Sustainable Future” that I want to reference as a tag for a couple thousand non-profits has a Webflow ID of “5ebb80080c6df5beb7fc91cb”.

Export your webflow collection so you can get the Collection Item ID (required to update an item in a collection). Also FYI - try to remove as many required fields in webflow as you can so that Zapier doesn’t require those too.

Now, create a Zapier account and create a Zap for Google Sheets to Webflow with the actions set to basically 'whenever a row gets updated or created, update this ‘live item’ in webflow.

  1. Match the value in your google sheet for collection item ID.
  2. Match up any other required fields.
  3. Match your multi-reference to the new column in sheets with the webflow ID for the other collection item you want to reference.
  4. Let it run and update all collection items with their respective collection reference.

Note - you may have some trouble getting it zapier to run all the data.