Project import and export


The Rotterdam Exchange Format Initiative (REFI) is an open standard for exporting and importing codebooks and projects from and to different computer-aided qualitative data analysis software. The website for the exchange initiative is

Currently, QualCoder is able to export and import a codebook. Exportation of a project and importation of a project are functional, but are not guaranteed to meet the full REFI-QDA standard. This is mainly an issue for the following untested items: (1) linking synchpoints to transcript, and (2) for linking to files (relative imports)  rather than  actual file imports.

Importation of REFI-QDA Project folder partly works, coding stripes may not correctly match text selections depending on the software that the export is from (sometimes may be off by a character). Features such as sets and graphs cannot be imported as this functionality is not within QualCoder. Other data formats are not preserved, for example, date or boolean would be converted to text data, as the sqlite database used in QualCoder does not have specific date or boolean data types.

To import a REFI-QDA.qdpx project folder, you will be asked to choose a new QualCoder project name, then select the qdpx import file. If no coded data is visible, change the current coder’s name in Settings to match the name of the coder who coded the data in the other software (there will be a drop down box to change to the other coders name).

Exportation of REFI-QDA Project folder. Some experimentation has been performed with Nvivo, Atlas.ti, Quirkos and MAXQDA. Importation into MAXQDA seems to require an additional line ending character regarding text coding – this is provided as an option in the REFI-QDA project export from QualCoder. Import into Atlas.ti shifted codings by a character after each line ending and has not yet been resolved. Importation from QualCoder into other software for attributes (variables) appears to work (March 2022).

Testing in Jan 2021 by a QualCoder supporter describes the exportation and then importation into MAXQDA, and Quirkos. (Numerous improvements, such as variable loading, have been made since this testing), PDF: REFI-QDA Project Import Quirkos Maxqda Atlas


Projects made with RQDA ( can be directly imported. All data except for file categories are imported.

In the Main Menu under Project click on RQDA Project import. You will be asked to create a new project – enter a new project name. Then you will be asked to select the RQDA project file. QualCoder will then import the data.

If no coded data is visible, you may need to change the current coder’s name in Settings using the drop down box.

Merge QualCoder Projects

You can to merge a QualCoder project into another Qualcoder project. I advise to keep back up copies of each project. Just in case the merge produces unusual results – mainly if the same text document has been edited in one project and not the other, and tree of codes being different between two projects.