Import and Export Conditional Formatting Rules

Andrew Stewart
Andrew Stewart ✭✭✭
edited 12/09/19 in Smartsheet Basics

The possibility of being able to clone rules across sheets has been mentioned before in a couple of posts, but I want to raise the issue again because of an incident that occurred last Friday. A key Smartsheet with over 100 conditional formatting rules (123 I believe, according to the Activity log) lost them all.


Hopefully Smartsheet support will be able to restore them, but I have not heard back from them at this point, and if they cannot recover them I will have to:

  1. Start from screenshots I took of the existing rules when I became responsible for supporting the sheet
  2. Go through a few hundred support requests identifying all those that affected conditional formatting rules
  3. Once I have worked out what the rules should be, spend hours re-entering each one through the GUI (really tedious because the 100+ fields in the Sheet are not sorted alphabetically in the criteria selection drop-down) 
  4. Deal with irate users because they have missed a deadline because one or two of the rule changes where done as quick enhancements that did not get logged properly

All this could be avoided if there was an export function that would allow the rules to be dumped to a text, Excel or XML sheet, and an import function that could restore the rules from a file in the correct format, so that rules could be modified using a text editor. Surely this file already exists in the system to drive the formatting, it just needs to be made available to users outside the GUI.

I still do not understand how the rules got lost, the activity log states that my userid deleted 123 conditional formatting rules in one go. I would not do that intentionally, and have since tried to reproduce the effect and cannot select more than one rule at a time, so cant see how I could have done it unintentionally either. I did have the rules dialog box open for some time because I was checking some rules I had added earlier in the day, but I was just looking.

I highly recommend anyone with even slightly complex conditional formatting rules to keep an up to date external list of them, and to periodically clone the Sheet including the rules to have something else to refer to in case of incident.