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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creating a Mail Merge from Contacts in Highrise

I've started using Highrise from 37 Signals to manage sales prospects for the SQIP Patent Sequence Database. My requirements for a CRM system are pretty basic. Highrise fits the bill for now, but it's OK - not great.

One glaring problem for me is that I want to create a file of all contacts and their addresses for a physical mailing. In Highrise I record the address for each Company and then just record the company for each Person. When you dump your contacts out as a CSV file 'Person' records do not inherit the address of the linked Company... really, it doesn't...

So I wrote a Ruby script to create what I want from the CSV file. You can find that here: http://gist.github.com/258950

1. Dump your contacts from Highrise
2. Run the script on that file
$ ./merge_highrise_contacts.rb contacts.csv > mail_merge.csv
3. Load the output file into Excel or Numbers (09)
4. Save as a Worksheet
5. Follow the regular Mail Merge instructions for MS Word/Excel or Apple Pages/Numbers

You need the '09 version of Pages/Numbers to do a proper Mail Merge. I prefer Numbers to Excel for this as it handles international characters properly, which I need.

In Numbers you need to designate the Header line as such by selecting 'Convert to Header Row' from the pull down menu on the row 1 label.

I'm all for the 37 Signals 'Keep things simple' approach but there are features that are just too widely used to ignore. Not being able to build a mailing list is one. Not having Prefix and Suffix for Person records is another.

Many of my contacts have doctorates and I want to record the prefix 'Dr.' for those that do. The only way I can do that in Highrise is to include it in the First Name. This is a pain.


eric g said...


These are some good points and we will consider adding them to our simple CRM, Lead Zeppelin.
I'll ping you back once they're available!

eric g said...


How do you see the CRM handling multiple instances of 'work' addresses? Say you tag a person with ABC Inc, but they put in a different (or slightly) different address in the person's profile, tagged as a 'work' address?

I'm assuming the export would crank out the entered Work address as well as the associated ABC Inc address. So you'd need to scrub or dedupe any multiple output addresses?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What about an email list? Is there away to do that?

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