On Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 04:15:33PM +0000, Ashley Sheridan wrote:

> On Thu, 2010-03-18 at 12:12 -0400, Paul M Foster wrote:
>     On Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 08:57:00AM -0700, Tommy Pham wrote:
>     <snip>
>     >
>     > Personally, I find working with fixed widths is best.  The text file
>     > might be larger but I don't have worry about escaping any type of
>     > characters ;)
>     I find this impossible, since I never know the largest width of all the
>     fields in a file. And a simple explode() call allows pulling all the
>     fields into an array, based on a common delimiter.
>     Paul
>     --
>     Paul M. Foster
> Explode won't work in the case of a comma in a field value.

That's why I convert the files to tab-delimited first. explode() does
work in that case.

> Also, newlines can exist within a field value, so a line in the file doesn't
> equate to a row of data

I've never seen this in the files I receive.

> The best way is just to start parsing at the beginning of the file and break 
> it
> into fields one by one from there.
> The bit I don't like about characters other than a comma being used in a 
> "comma
> separated values" file is that you can't automatically tell what character has
> been used as the delimiter. Hence being asked by spreadsheet programs what the
> delimiter is if a comma doesn't give up what it recognises as valid fields.

I've honestly never seen a "CSV" or "Comma-separated Values" which used
tabs for delimiters. At that point, it's really not a *comma* separated
value file.

My application for all this is accepting mailing lists from customers
which I have to convert into DBFs for a commercial mailing list program.
Because most of my customers can barely find the on/off switch on their
computers, I never know what I'm going to get. So before I string
together the filters to process the file, I have to actually look at and
analyze the file to find out what it is. Could be a fixed-field length
file, a CSV, a tab-delimited file, or anything in between. Once I've
selected the filters, the sequence they will be put together in, and the
fields from the file I want to capture, I hit the button. After it's all
done, I now have to look at the result to ensure that the requested
fields ended up where they were supposed to.


Paul M. Foster

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