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

Apple Pro Video Formats 2.0.2 - Updates...
Apple Pro Video Formats brings updates to Apple's professional-level codes for Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4. Version 2.0.2: Includes support for the following professional video codecs... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.2.2 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Apple Compressor 4.2.1 - Adds power and...
Compressor adds power and flexibility to Final Cut Pro X export. Customize output settings, work faster with distributed encoding, and tap into a comprehensive set of delivery features. Powerful... Read more
Apple Motion 5.2.2 - Create and customiz...
Apple Motion is designed for video editors, Motion 5 lets you customize Final Cut Pro titles, transitions, and effects. Or create your own dazzling animations in 2D or 3D space, with real-time... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 10.00b1 - File, p...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
CrossOver 14.1.6 - Run Windows apps on y...
CrossOver can get your Windows productivity applications and PC games up and running on your Mac quickly and easily. CrossOver runs the Windows software that you need on Mac at home, in the office,... Read more
Printopia 2.1.14 - Share Mac printers wi...
Run Printopia on your Mac to share its printers to any capable iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Printopia will also add virtual printers, allowing you to save print-outs to your Mac and send to apps.... Read more
Google Drive 1.24 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Chromium 45.0.2454.85 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 45.0.2454.85: Note: Does not contain the "... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.5 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more

Spirit Hunter is an Upcoming Collectible...
Boomlagoon, the team behind hybrid CCG/runner Monsu, has announced their newest project: a collectible card game/action RPG named Spirit Hunter. [Read more] | Read more »
Zen Brush 2 (Entertainment)
Zen Brush 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Zen Brush 2 is a drawing app focused on the strong yet beautiful feel of the East Asian ink brush. | Read more »
NetNewsWire (News)
NetNewsWire 4.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: News Price: $3.99, Version: 4.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Follow the Web NetNewsWire 4, completely written from the ground up for iPhone. NetNewsWire is the best way to keep up with the... | Read more »
Huzzah! Farming Simulator 16 Supports Cl...
As though it weren't difficult enough to resist the siren call of Farming Simulator 16, now it's been updated with cloud saves - so you can jump between devices without missing any of that precious crop-harvesting time. [Read more] | Read more »
Don't Starve: Pocket Edition Finall...
I've made no effort to hide my enjoyment of Don't Starve: Pocket Edition, but I will admit I was a tiny bit disappointed that it was only available for the iPad. Well nuts to that, because Klei Entertainment has made it universal! [Read more] | Read more »
Goat Simulator Wasn't Enough? Then...
If you just didn't get enough goat in Goat Simulator - or if you've been wanting to play a simulated MMO as a microwave - then you're in luck! Goat Simulator MMO Simulator is out now, and it's a game about simulated goats in simulated MMOs. Plus... | Read more »
You Can Play Madfinger Games' Unkil...
Madfinger Games - probably best known for the Dead Trigger series - has officially launched their newest zombie shooter (that isn't called Dead Trigger), named Unkilled. [Read more] | Read more »
KORG iELECTRIBE for iPhone (Music)
KORG iELECTRIBE for iPhone 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: ** 50% OFF Special Launch Sale - For a Limited Time **The ELECTRIBE reborn in an even smaller form A full-fledged... | Read more »
Toca Life: City Just Got a Bunch of New...
Toca Life: City is Toca Boca's most popular app (number 1 in 47 different countries, apparently), and it's just had an update that adds a bunch of new content. [Read more] | Read more »
My Country 3D is More About Cities than...
My Country 3D is an upcoming city builder from Game Insight that looks pretty decent - although the name seems a tad out of whack for a city builder. Ah well, it is what it is. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

DEVONthink and Co. 40% Off For Students And E...
Students and teachers are either preparing for the new semester or are already back in school. And the better organized they are the easier it is for them to concentrate on what’s really important:... Read more
Labor Day Weekend Sale: MacBook Air for up to...
Best Buy has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-... Read more
BassJump Subwoofer for MacBook Refreshed...
Twelve South has released a software update for BassJump, their portable subwoofer for Macbook. BassJump 3.0 has a radically redesigned interface, and the software refresh makes the BassJump... Read more
Near-Office Input Functionality Virtually Any...
Today Logitech introduced the Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard and the Logitech M535 Bluetooth Mouse, giving users the freedom to work on any device, most anywhere. According to... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through September 4, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, includes...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, $11 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Will You Buy An iPad Pro? – The ‘Book Mystiqu...
It looks like we may not have to wait much longer to see what finally materializes as a new, larger-panel iPad (Pro/Plus?) Usually reliable Apple product prognosticator KGI Securities analyst Ming-... Read more
eFileCabinet Announces SMB Document Managemen...
Electronic document management (EDM) eFileCabinet, Inc., a hosted solutions provider for small to medium businesses, has announced that its SecureDrawer and eFileCabinet Online services will be... Read more
WaterField Designs Unveils American-Made, All...
San Francisco’s WaterField Designs today unveiled their all-leather Cozmo 2.0 — an elegant attach laptop bag with carefully-designed features to suit any business environment. The Cozmo 2.0 is... Read more
Apple’s 2015 Back to School promotion: Free B...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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
Content Partner Engineer - *Apple* TV - App...
**Job Summary** The Apple TV team is looking for an experienced engineer with a passion for delivering first in class home entertainment solutions. The candidate will Read more
*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Customer Support P...
Job Description: Customer Support Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the Read more
*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.