Using PnP PowerShell to export and import Taxonomy

PnP provides export taxonomy cmdlet which allows to export all term groups, term sets, terms and child terms to a file with one line of code

Connect-SPOnline -Url <siteurl> -CurrentCredentials 
Export-SPOTaxonomy -IncludeID -Path "C:\temp\Metadata\terms.txt"

PnP also provides an equivalent import taxonomy cmdlet to import all term groups, term sets, terms and child terms from a file with one line of code

Connect-SPOnline -Url <siteurl> -CurrentCredentials
Import-SPOTaxonomy -Path "C:\temp\Metadata\terms.txt"

However if IncludeId switch parameter is used with the export, the import would fail if the October 2016 PnP PowerShell release is used.

The error message appears

Import-SPOTaxonomy : Exception on line 5: Failed to read from or write to database. 
Refresh and try again. If the problem persists, please contact the administrator

I decided to enable Trace on the PnP to get debug messages using the Set-SPOTraceLog

  Set-SPOTraceLog -On -Level Debug

Debug messages appear to monitor progress of execution but was not helpful.


I tried to google the message, found out that the error happened as the code is trying to create a term or term set with an unique identifier (GUID)  which already exists in the taxonomy store.

I inspected the taxonomy file exported and found that terms having child terms were wrongly formatted.In the example below the term group EDRMS is repeated 3 times.

EDRMS;#383eab6e-a944-430d-9a18-f8b872322c2c|EDRMS;#383eab6e-a944-430d-9a18-f8b872322c2c|Directorate;#a99db510-121a-407b-87ec-0b4911e59469|EDRMS;#383eab6e-a944-430d-9a18-f8b872322c2c|Directorate;#a99db510-121a-407b-87ec-0b4911e59469|Finance;#fbab08b3-bc7d-4363-a1c4-1f5d4a466b07|Credit and Collections;#0ec6cefe-c92c-4dfe-81d4-1fe56183f8a2

The Export-SPOTaxonomy was wrongly formatting child terms in the export file.

I raised the issue 532 on PnP PowerShell project.

However I was not sure how quick the issue was going to get fixed so decided to debug PnP powershell command  and found that the issue was with the core PnP project . I fixed it with pull request Taxonomy import export which got merged into pull request Fixed issue with subterms not exported correctly when using ExportAll” .

With the PnP PowerShell November 2016 release, you will be able to use PnP to import and export taxonomy.