TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Data Conversion
Volume Number:4
Issue Number:5
Column Tag:Basic School

Quick & Dirty Data Conversion

By Dave Kelly, MacTutor Editorial Board

FILE IMPORT/EXPORT with BASIC

Over the years, one of the most beneficial uses for Basic is the ability to quickly write programs to import/export data to and from data bases. This also provides a “quick and dirty” way to convert data or suppress unwanted characters. I’d like to explain/complain about the process and some of the problems that I have encountered.

My first major data conversion came a couple of years ago when I converted 30,000 names in a mail list from my Apple //e to the Macintosh. Yes, this was quite a feat, mostly because of the bottle neck which the dinky 143K floppy drives allowed on the Apple //. And you thought the Mac 400K drives were small! Anyway, on the Apple //e I was using DB MASTER, a now orphaned product, with some small support still available from a consulting firm in Northern California. There may be some of you that are familiar with DB MASTER (sometimes it was referred to as DB MONSTER). DB MASTER was great for mail lists and still would be today except for it’s slow speed (that’s partly the Apple //s fault).

The process went something like this: First the data needed to be converted from DB MASTER file format to ASCII so that I could direct connect the Mac and the //e together. DB MASTER utilities includes an export utility which would convert files to either DIF or a “One Field per Line” format. The utilities converted my mail list from my Sider hard disk to about 50 143K floppy disks (UGH!). Next the ASCII needed to be converted from Apple // ASCII to ”the rest of the world” ASCII format. ASCII EXPRESS telecommunications software provides a conversion utility for doing this (If they didn’t I’d have to use my own Basic program to convert it myself. Next each disk was converted via direct null modem connection to the Mac. Whew!

To make a long story (and many hours) short, the mail list was now on the Mac, but somehow during the process some control characters were intermixed in the files. Omnis 3 would not read the files with these control characters so it was BASIC to the rescue. There are 128 standard ASCII characters of which the first 31 characters are control characters, traditionally used for teletype terminals. The problem was easily solved by writing a Basic routine to read in the file, filter out the bad characters and rewrite the file. Compile the program to speed it up!

Control Character Filter
‘ ©MacTutor, 1988
‘ By Dave Kelly
‘ MSBASIC

x$=FILES$(1,”TEXT”)
IF x$=”” THEN END
OPEN x$ FOR INPUT AS #1
OPEN “Filter Output” FOR OUTPUT AS #2
WHILE NOT EOF(1)
    Char$=INPUT$(1,1)
    IF ASC(Char$)>=32 THEN PRINT #2,Char$;
    IF Char$=CHR$(13) THEN PRINT #2,Char$;
WEND
CLOSE #1
CLOSE #2
END

That’s ok for simple filtering. Things may need to be more complex if the original file contains unexpected characters in it. Recently, I came across the need to convert data stored in a FileMaker Plus file in order to do some simple, but unusual calculations. As drafting is done for test equipment the progress is logged into a FileMaker Plus file. Each drawing number is entered with its own charge number and the date is entered indicating the start or completion of stages of the drawing process. Occasionally the boss (who is always right because he is the boss) wants a drawing status report according to charge number (there are multiple drawings per charge number). FileMaker Plus will give the total number of drawings but only after searching for each of the charge numbers and dates individually. BASIC to the rescue.

The Drawing Count program was written to count progress of each of the charge numbers. A file is opened for input and another file for output. Each field was previously exported to a BASIC formatted file and is read by the Basic program in the same order which it was written. The charge number is saved, but each of the date fields is replaced by a flag (0 or 1) which indicated if there was anything in the date field. These 0s and 1s are added together to get the totals after the data is sorted. The sort routine could have been beefed up but, for a “quick and dirty” program, it does the job. The program was compiled with the MS Basic compiler which provided adequate speed results.

If you are wondering why ZBasic wasn’t used here, so am I. Actually, I ran into a small problem which appears to be a bug with ZBasic 4.01 while reading the FileMaker Plus exported text files. Although ZBasic’s INPUT# statement is supposed to read data from the file until a carriage return, <COMMA>, End-Of-File, or 255 characters are encountered, when ZBasic saw a comma followed by a carriage return, the null between the comma and carriage return was skipped and the next field (from the next record) was read in. The data looks like this:

“ITEM1”,”ITEM2",”ITEM3",
“ITEM4”,”ITEM5",”ITEM6",”ITEM7"

The null field after item3 was skipped and ITEM4 is read in. This is how data is formatted when dumped in comma delimited format as with FileMaker Plus. Sorry, Zedcor.

COORDINATE WINDOW
DEF OPEN “TEXTDAVE”
BREAK ON
filename$=FILES$(1,”TEXT”,,vol%)
IF filename$=”” THEN END
OPEN “I”,#1,filename$,,vol%
INPUT #1,A$,B$,C$,D$
PRINT @(1,10)A$,B$,C$,D$
CLOSE 1

Another file conversion problem to deal with involves the conversion of text which has been dumped from text fields. FileMaker Plus, for example, inserts an end of line mark at the end of each line when it exports data to a file. When the data is read into another program which doesn’t use the end of line character to mark the end of lines (because the text is word wrapped and reformattable). If you read the FileMaker text field into Double Helix II for example, the end of line character shows up in the text field as an undefined character (a box). The filter method explained above can find these characters if you know what character it is.

Fortunately life is much easier for converting data these days than it was even five years ago. Now I use file formats like DIF and SYLK whenever I can when converting between programs that support both formats. The transfer goes a lot less painfully when the format is well defined as the DIF format is. For those not familiar with DIF, it is called the “Data Interchange Format” and was originally designed to by Software Arts (are they still around?) to transfer data from Visicalc (the father of all spreadsheet programs). The file is completely ASCII but has header information added to help maintain data integrity. (This saved me a few times). This means that the file will undoubtedly be larger than without DIF formatting so be sure that you only use it for file transport rather than data storage especially if your disk free space is critical. SYLK is Microsoft’s format. Most Microsoft products and a few data base programs such as Omnis 3 and FileMaker Plus support SYLK format. The best way to figure out how these work is to analyze some sample data from a program that exports in one of these formats.

‘ Drawing Count Program
‘ Converts Drawing Log Data created by FileMaker Plus
‘ and computes total number of drawings under each date
‘ By Dave Kelly
‘ ©1988
‘MS BASIC

DIM Charge$(1000),Date1(1000),Date2(1000),Date3(1000), Date4(1000)
DIM tCharge$(20),tDate1(20),tDate2(20),tDate3(20),tDate4(20)
filename$=FILES$(1,”TEXT”)
IF filename$=”” THEN END
OPEN “I”,1,filename$
OPEN “O”,2,”Drawing Count.DATA”
PRINT
count=0
CALL MOVETO(10,30)
PRINT “Now Reading in Records...”
WHILE NOT EOF(1)
    count=count+1
    CALL MOVETO (10,50)
    PRINT count
    Charge$(count)=””
    i$=””
    A$=””
    C$=””
    S$=””
    INPUT#1,Charge$(count),i$,A$,C$,S$
    IF LEN(Charge$(count))>0 THEN
        IF RIGHT$(Charge$(count),1)=”)” THEN
            Charge$(count)=MID$(Charge$(count),LEN(Charge$(count))-4,4)
        ELSE
            Charge$(count)=RIGHT$(Charge$(count),4)
        END IF
    END IF
    IF LEN(i$)>0 THEN Date1(count)=1 ELSE Date1(count)=0
    IF LEN(A$)>0 THEN Date2(count)=1 ELSE Date2(count)=0
    IF LEN(C$)>0 THEN Date3(count)=1 ELSE Date3(count)=0
    IF LEN(S$)>0 THEN Date4(count)=1 ELSE Date4(count)=0
WEND
CALL MOVETO(10,70)
PRINT “Now Sorting Data...”
CALL Sort(count,Charge$(),Date1(),Date2(),Date3(),Date4())
k=0
FOR j=1 TO count
IF tCharge$(k)<>Charge$(j) THEN k=k+1
tCharge$(k)=Charge$(j)
tDate1(k)=tDate1(k)+Date1(j)
tDate2(k)=tDate2(k)+Date2(j)
tDate3(k)=tDate3(k)+Date3(j)
tDate4(k)=tDate4(k)+Date4(j)
NEXT j
CALL MOVETO(10,90)
PRINT “Now Writing to File...”
PRINT#2,”Charge#    Date1    Date2    Date3    Date4"
FOR i=1 TO k
tDate1(i)=tDate1(i)-tDate2(i)
tDate2(i)=tDate2(i)-tDate3(i)
tDate3(i)=tDate3(i)-tDate4(i)
PRINT #2,tCharge$(i),tDate1(i),tDate2(i),tDate3(i),tDate4(i)
PRINT tCharge$(i),tDate1(i),tDate2(i),tDate3(i),tDate4(i)
NEXT i
CLOSE #1
CLOSE #2
PRINT”Click to continue...”
WHILE MOUSE(0)<>1:WEND
END

SUB Sort(count,Charge$(),Date1(),Date2(),Date3(),Date4()) STATIC
    flips=1
    WHILE flips
        flips=0
        FOR i=2 TO count
            IF Charge$(i-1)> Charge$(i) THEN
                flips=1
                SWAP Charge$(i-1),Charge$(i)
                SWAP Date1(i-1),Date1(i)
                SWAP Date2(i-1),Date2(i)
                SWAP Date3(i-1),Date3(i)
                SWAP Date4(i-1),Date4(i)
            END IF
        NEXT
    WEND
END SUB

HYPER-CORNER

The new update disk for HyperCard version 1.1 contains a read me stack with three new buttons pertaining to importing and exporting data. If you don’t have the new update you can get it from your Apple dealer. Version 1.1 is supposed to fix some bugs that “bugged” some of us.

The read me stack gives directions for using the new buttons, but I’ll try to explain them a little bit here. To try them out, create a new stack with a few fields in it such as the one I created; see fig. 1.

Fig 1. Hyper Dialog

HyperCard Import/Export

The arrow keys were added from the Button Ideas stack to make it easy to check out the data, but you will need to remember the command 1,2,3,4 keys that move you from card to card or you may use the arrow (or option-arrow) keys to move from field to field.

Fig. 2 Export Dialog

The most useful of the buttons is the Export Data button. It allows you to select the background fields you wish to export and the delimiters separating the fields and records. Most database programs will read the tab delimited records (with carriage return between each record). NO, the export button will not export card fields, only background fields. That is understandable since the output needs to be consistent.

I found that the best way to see how the buttons work is to try them out. Clicking on the Export Data (or Export Text) button will produce this dialog which will let you select the background field you desire to output. (See figure 2)

Selecting the Fields for Export

After selecting the All button or after selecting which of the background fields you want to export, you specify the file name to export to. A dialog comes up to ask you for the name of the text file to export to:

Fig. 3 Editable Dialog

Selecting a Filename for Export

There is an XCMD around someplace for calling the Standard File Dialog which would be better to substitute for this dialog. The problem with XCMD routines for general use is that not everyone has them. It would be best to set up your own custom library of XCMDs to use in your own stacks.

I ran into no difficulty getting my data to export to a file. You can examine your data with a word processor to see how the text file looks when the data has been exported. I like using MS Word for examining this kind of file because you can view all the tabs and carriage returns using the Show ¶ menu item.

The Import Button works well too, except that you can’t import data into existing background fields. It creates the background fields on the fly. Perhaps someone out there could create a button script that will allow you to specify which field you would like to be the first, second and so on field to be read in. AT LEAST, now these buttons are included with HyperCard. At first, it may appear that the import didn’t work, but if you read the instructions in the read me stack, it explains that the new background fields are created one on top of another. To see the fields you will have to peel them apart. (see figure below)

Imported Fields

Ideally, the importing will be done first thing before the stack layout is designed if possible. Importing/Exporting of text with HyperCard has been one of the weak links. With all the interest in HyperCard these days, there should be more XCMD routines and tools we can use to improve the usefulness of HyperCard.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VirtualBox 5.1.30 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
ScreenFlow 7.1.1 - Create screen recordi...
ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your... Read more
Adobe Flash Player 27.0.0.170 - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more
Xcode 9.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
TotalFinder 1.10.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Features... Read more
Backblaze 5.1.0.134 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Postbox 5.0.20 - Powerful and flexible e...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
Corel Painter 18.1.0.651 - Digital art s...
Corel Painter lets you advance your digital art style with painted textures, subtle glazing brushwork, interactive gradients, and realistic Natural-Media. Easily transition from traditional to... Read more
QuarkXPress 13.1.0.0 - Desktop publishin...
QuarkXPress 2017 is the new version that raises the bar for design and productivity. With non-destructive graphics and image editing directly within your layout, you no longer have to choose between... Read more
Backblaze 5.1.0.134 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more

Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »
Cottage Garden (Games)
Cottage Garden 1.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.11 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Into the Dead 2 guide - how to survive t...
Into the Dead 2 is an endless gunner, of sorts, with a lot of grit and satisfying gunplay behind it. The game looks amazing, and tells an effective story to boot. Plus, it has some quality voice acting behind it to really bring the story to life... | Read more »
Smash Up - The Card Game (Games)
Smash Up - The Card Game 1.0.7 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.7 (iTunes) Description: ***“It’s a goofy theme with fun art and high replayability, but beneath that veneer of casual play is a great... | Read more »
Dive in to Combat Squad if you’re lookin...
Earlier this year, A-33 Studio made the leap from developing Counter Strike Online to launching its very own FPS for the mobile. Combat Squad: Project Wednesday pits your team of mercs against the world in multiplayer death matches, so if you’re on... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more
Clearance 2016 13″ MacBook Pros, refurbished,...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Pros available starting at $1189. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: – 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar Gray... Read more
12-inch 64GB iPad Pro on sale for $749, save...
Adorama has 12″ 64GB iPad Pros on sale today for $749 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Silver MacBook Pro on sale f...
Amazon has the Silver 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB MacBook Pro (MPXX2LL/A) on sale for $1699 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
12″ MacBook available for $1099 with Apple re...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Farmin...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.