Converting From Timeslips


RTG offers a free conversion program for getting client information into RTG Bills. This page describes how to convert the client information from Timeslips* into a format which the RTG Bills conversion program can read.

If you are converting from a different billing program, we also have instructions for you:

Click here for general conversion instructions

Although the detailed procedure will vary somewhat depending upon the version of Timeslips that you have, the overall idea is the same. We want to get the client information in a "comma-delimited" file (also known as a "comma-separated value" or CSV file). Timeslips calls this the Interchange Format.

Our approach is to create a user-defined report in Timeslips, specify the fields we want, then write the report to a file.

Once the client information is in a file, the RTG Bills conversion program can read it into RTG Bills.


Clients and Matters

Most firms that use Timeslips do not make a distinction between clients and matters. However, RTG Bills (like nearly all legal-specific programs) uses clients and matters to organize your timekeeping and billing.

In RTG Bills, a matter is a "case" or "file" or "project" that you work on for a client. RTG Bills keeps a separate balance due, and prints a separate bill, for each matter.

In earlier versions of RTG Bills, a "client" was always associated with a mailing address. If you wanted several bills to go to the same mailing address, then those matters all belonged to the same client.

This strict association of a client with a mailing address is no longer true. Each matter can have its own mailing address. For example, you might want each matter to have a different attention line. RTG Bills lets you copy the client address and then add the attention line.

In general, if the client name is the same for several matters, then we would consider those matters to belong to one client. The client name is usually the first line of the mailing address.

Grouping matters by client has several advantages. Many reports give subtotals by client. Also, RTG Bills can (if you wish) print a client cover page when several matters are billed to the same client. The client cover page shows each matter and the total due for the client.

The next step is to decide which type of conversion you will use. The different types determine how Timeslips clients are converted to RTG Bills clients and matters.


Type 1 Conversion

The simplest conversion creates one client and one matter in RTG Bills for each "client" in Timeslips. We call this a Type 1 conversion.

Here is how the information from Timeslips is used:

Timeslips FieldRTG Bills Field
Nickname 1Client Abbreviation
Nickname 2ignored
Full NameClient Name
Address Line 2part of Client Address
Address Line 3part of Client Address
Address Line 4Attention line
(part of Client Address)
City, State, ZIPpart of Client Address
Phone Number 1Client Phone
Phone Number 2Client Fax
In Reference ToMatter Name, Matter Reference
Fee BalanceFee Adjustment
Cost BalanceExpense Adjustment

During the conversion, a client and a matter are created for each Timeslips client.

In RTG Bills, your matters will be numbered 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, and so on. The number before the dash is the client number and the number after the dash is the case number. The client number and case number together are called the matter number.

If two Timeslips clients have the same Nickname 1, they will be treated as a single client with two matters in RTG Bills. The rest of the client information is taken from the first of the two Timeslips clients.

A Matter Abbreviation is created from the first ten characters of the Matter Name.


Type 2 Conversion

If you have information in Timeslips that can be used to identify the matters which belong to the same client, RTG Bills can use that information.

Suppose you have Timeslips client nicknames that look like this:


If this means that ABC is the client, and you have two separate cases (JONES and SMITH) for that client, then the conversion program can create a single client with two matters in RTG Bills. We call this a Type 2 conversion.

For example, if ABC is assigned Client Number 15, the two matters would be 15-1 and 15-2.

The same fields are used as in the Type 1 conversion. However, the Timeslips Nickname 1 (or Nickname for versions which only have one client nickname) is used to create both a Client Abbreviation and a Matter Abbreviation. The Client Abbreviation is the portion before the dash, and the Matter Abbreviation is the entire nickname with the client and case parts reversed (e.g., JONES-ABC).

Timeslips FieldRTG Bills Field
Nickname 1 (ABC-JONES)Client & Matter Abbreviations
Nickname 2ignored
[the rest][same as for Type 1]

If the part before the dash is a number (e.g., 123-JONES), then the number is used as the client number. Similarly, if the part after the dash is a number (e.g., ABC-456), then the number is used as the case number.


Type 3 Conversion

Perhaps you would like to group the matters for each client, as in the Type 2 conversion, but you didn't use nicknames like those described there.

One option is to change the nicknames in Timeslips before the conversion so that a Type 2 conversion can identify the clients and matters. For example, if you used the nicknames


with no dashes, you could put the dash after ABC so that the conversion program will recognize the client as being the same (ABC) for both nicknames.

An alternative is to use the second nickname, Nickname 2, to enter a client nickname. This is a Type 3 conversion. In other words, you would have this:

Nickname 1Nickname 2

The Type 3 conversion will use Nickname 2 as the Client Abbreviation and Nickname 1 as the Matter Abbreviation. Timeslips "clients" which have the same Nickname 2 will become different matters for one client.

Older versions of Timeslips do not have a second nickname, so you cannot enter the second nickname in Timeslips. However, you can create the comma-delimited file, which will contain the nickname twice at the beginning of each line, and edit that file directly to change the second nickname.

Timeslips FieldRTG Bills Field
Nickname 1 (ABCJONES)Matter Abbreviation
Nickname 2 (ABC)Client Abbreviation
[the rest][same as for Type 1]

If Nickname 2 is a number, then it will be used as the client number. A Client Abbreviation will be created from the first ten characters of the Client Name. Similarly, if Nickname 1 is a number, it will be used as the case number. A Matter Abbreviation will be created from the first ten characters of the Matter Name (which, in turn, is created from the In Reference To field).


Extracting the Timeslips Data

When you have decided which type of conversion to use, and made any necessary changes to the Timeslips data, you are ready to create the comma-delimited file.

Here are detailed instructions for creating this file in several versions of Timeslips:

Converting from Timeslips 5 for Windows

Converting from Timeslips 6, 7, or 8 for Windows

Converting from Timeslips 9 or 10 for Windows

Converting from later versions of Timeslips

Test Conversion

It is important that you do a test conversion and check it carefully before proceeding to use RTG Bills. If you want the clients and matters to be assigned properly, you must prepare the Timeslips nicknames correctly.

It is best to have the clients and matters assigned correctly during the conversion, but it is possible to move a matter in RTG Bills after the conversion. You can change the matter number but keep the same client, or you can move a matter to a different client.

The best approach is to save a copy of the RTG Bills database, rtgbills.mdb, in another folder before the conversion. That allows you to delete the RTG Bills database if a problem occurs and copy the saved version back into the RTG Bills folder.

When you have created the comma-delimited file and made a backup copy of the RTG Bills database, you are ready to try reading the data with the conversion program.

If anything goes wrong, you can change the Timeslips data, create the comma-delimited file, restore the RTG Bills database from the backup, and try again.

Next step: Reading the Timeslips data

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