I have a Rails app with a contact list that needs to interface with Outlook
and at least one other external data source. My fear is that as my client
throws CSVs at my Web app, I will have subtly different items referring to
the same contact.
I've come up with several alternate approaches to this but thought I'd ask
if anyone else has already faced this problem. FWIW, here were two
approaches I felt might work:
1. Tag contacts that have already been sync'ed with Outlook. Strangely,
Outlook does not provide any unique identifier with its contact information
so this would have to be done in some custom field. Ack!
2. Use a proximity or fuzzy match to determine whether the same contact is
being updated. So, "Sam Smith" and "Sammy Smith" might be the same person,
but "Sam Jones" would not be. The user could then manually resolve possible
Regarding (2), ferret seems like a good way to get a Levenshtein distance
for my existing data, as the data can be indexed as added, economizing on
the matching hassle later.
Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?