IMPORTING DATA

Flatfile Competitors: The 4 Best Alternatives

What are the top alternatives to Flatfile? How does Flatfile compare vs OneSchema, CSVBox, Osmos, and Open Source options?

Christina Gilbert

Christina is the co-founder & CEO at OneSchema.

September 27, 2022

Flatfile is a data onboarding platform used by SaaS companies to configure new customer data.

Flatfile’s first product line (Flatfile Portal v2) was an embeddable CSV importer that saved product and engineering teams the effort of building out a complex CSV import feature. 

Since 2020, Flatfile has been focused on its upmarket product line, Flatfile Workspaces, used by customer success teams to assist with manual data import workflows. 

Flatfile’s is a powerful platform that serves multiple use cases, and excels when data import workflows are expected to be supported by a member of your onboarding team. 

When evaluating Flatfile vs. other alternatives, however, it’s important to consider Flatfile’s limitations. While Flatfile’s products serve a broad range of data onboarding use cases, other platforms have surpassed Flatfile’s capabilities for the embeddable data import use case, especially since Flatfile’s newest release, Flatfile Portal v3, lacks many of the features of the original Portal v2 product. 

In this article, we’ll give an overview of Flatfile and look at 4 popular alternatives: 

  1. OneSchema, the leading embeddable CSV importer for SaaS
  2. Osmos, for building recurring data syncs 
  3. CSVBox, an affordable alternative for hobbyists
  4. Open-Source Alternatives

Flatfile

Flatfile offers two product lines: Flatfile Portal and Flatfile Workspaces. Portal is an embeddable CSV importer and Workspaces is a shared data custody environment for onboarding teams to collaborate with customers on data cleanup. 

Flatfile has invested heavily in enterprise features including SOC2 Type II compliance and on-premise deployments. 

A key strength of Flatfile is that customers can write their data validation options once in Flatfile and leverage them across both Importer and Workspaces. Since Flatfile Workspaces is a collaborative environment for customers and onboarding teams, it’s the best option for data onboarding workflows that are expected to take multiple weeks or months and require collaboration between many stakeholders.  

As Flatfile continues to invest in its Workspaces product line, Flatfile Portal has also been upgraded to include many of Workspace’s advanced features. Many of the features are geared towards power over usability, providing a flexible experience for sophisticated power-users.  

An example of Flatfile's column mapping pane

Users can get started with Flatfile Portal for free, but must talk to sales to get started with Workspaces. Flatfile’s pricing is not transparent and requires a conversation with the sales team. 

OneSchema

OneSchema is the leading embeddable CSV importer for SaaS. OneSchema is a developer-first platform and is the only provider solely focused on the embeddable CSV import use case. 

Like Flatfile, OneSchema’s platform intelligently maps columns during import and proactively identifies errors. OneSchema also supports enterprise features like SOC2 Type II compliance, multi-region hosting, and UI language translation. 

Compared with Flatfile, OneSchema’s primary strengths are simplicity, usability, and customizability. OneSchema provides proactive suggestions to help customers resolve errors in their data, and allows users to export annotated Excel files explaining issues with their data. OneSchema is the only platform that supports bulk data edits to resolve issues in the data from within the CSV import experience. 

OneSchema supports bulk data edits such as 1-click autofix and find-and-replace features

While OneSchema supports a broad set of advanced features, it is highly configurable and empowers developers to enable or disable advanced features to optimize import conversion rates for their specific workflow. 

Other key differentiating OneSchema features include a large library of no-code data validations and transformations, an advanced branding suite, and the ability to performantly handle files up to 10M rows (see also: OneSchema vs Flatfile performance comparison).

Unlike Flatfile, OneSchema does not support a “Workspaces” product used by internal teams to collaborate with customers on data onboarding. It is best used for import use-cases that are intended to be completed in a single session. OneSchema also does not support on-prem deployments. 

Users can get started with OneSchema for free, or talk to the OneSchema sales team. OneSchema publicly publishes their usage plans, but pricing requires a conversation with the sales team. 

Osmos

Founded in 2019, Osmos is a great option for companies looking at recurring data import use cases. Osmos is not solely focused on CSV data, and they support a variety of pre-built connectors for ingesting data from FTP, Google Drive and APIs. With their focus on recurring data imports, the use cases Osmos serves are closer to traditional ETL workflows, where data is loaded from a source, transformed via a set of pre-configured rules, and loaded to its destination. 

Osmos has supports features like scheduling automatic runs for data-sync use cases. Osmos’ primary differentiator from traditional ETL is its AutoRecall feature, which attempts to reformat data automatically using machine-learning powered transformations. 

To get started, you must book a demo via the company’s website. Osmos pricing is transparent and consists of a platform fee + a fee per record uploaded. While their platform starts at $299/month, their signature AutoRecall feature is only available in their Pro plan, starting at $999/month. 

CSVBox

CSVBox is a low-cost embeddable CSV importer perfect for hobbyists or non-customer-facing use cases. CSVBox is a bootstrapped software company based in India.

CSVBox supports the core features of embeddable CSV import, including a UI for column mapping and viewing errors. CSVBox however lacks several more advanced features like validation webhooks for writing custom data validations, security certifications like SOC2, and UI customizations.  

CSVBox’s primary advantage is its low, transparent pricing model. At just $9/month, customers get up to 500 monthly imports.

In comparing pricing for Flatfile vs. CSVBox, getting started with CSVBox is comparatively easier, as they support self-serve from their website. CSVBox has a free plan that allows prospective users to test the product with <5 row files.

Open-Source CSV Importers

Open-source solutions have a number of advantages over commercial alternatives. However, for CSV import, there are few widely adopted options available that include UI components. Here are two options you may consider (both for React):

Beamworks React CSV Importer

Beamworks React CSV Importer open-source solution wraps the popular PapaParse library. It leverages a unique drag-and-drop UI for column mapping. It runs entirely in-browser, enabling it to run offline, but will use a lot of your customer’s device’s resources. Notably, the UI does not support a validation or review step.  

The project is small, and has ~100 stars, ~50 forks, and 5 contributors. It is actively maintained in 2022. 

React CSV Importer usage demo

React-importer

React-importer features a modern UI, including the upload, mapping, and data validation steps. However, the project only has 1 fork and has not been recently updated as of 2022. 

If you are open to building your own UI components, here are two more open source options to consider:

Ruby on Rails (Backend Only): CSVImporter

CSVImporter is an open-source library for managing the backend of your CSV importer in Ruby on Rails. The library handles many of the common edge cases with CSV import (ASCII-8BIT formats, missing columns, empty rows, malformed headers, wild separators, etc). The library provides a Ruby DSL to define mapping between CSV columns and your data model. 

The library has 500+ stars and 50+ forks, and is actively maintained in 2022. 

For PHP (Backend Only): Goodby, CSV

Goodby, CSV is an open-source CSV import/export library for PHP 5.3. 1. Its key features are that it handles large files, it has multibyte support, and comes with a unit test suite.

While the library has almost 1k stars and 100+ forks, it has not been updated since 2018. 

Conclusion

CSV import encompasses a wide variety of workflows, ranging from single-sheet uploads, to multi-month SaaS data migrations, to recurring data integrations. 

When onboarding new customers, a bad data onboarding experience can lead to lower activation rates, delayed implementations, and mountains of support tickets. It’s important to choose the right partner for your use case. 

There are a number of alternatives available to Flatfile, each with their own strengths:

  • Flatfile has solutions spanning multiple data onboarding scenarios, and is the best option for complex use cases where your support team is expected to get involved. 
  • OneSchema is the only solution exclusively focused on self-serve data onboarding and is the leading choice for embeddable CSV imports
  • Osmos is a great option for CSV data pipelines and recurring data import use cases
  • CSVBox can be a great low-cost choice for hobbyists
  • While there are several open-source libraries available for CSV import, the libraries with UI components (Beamworks React CSV Importer and react-importer) have minimal adoption. For companies that prefer to build in-house, CSVImporter and Goodby, CSV can help reduce the engineering load on the backend. However, they do not contain frontend components. 

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