Comma Delimited Files



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   Reading Comma-Delimited Files
ftcat01.jpg (9932 bytes) This page will demonstrate a method of parsing fields from a comma delimited file. All text fields are enclosed within double quotes. Commas may be embedded within text fields..

   HALLOWEEN NIGHT... and I'm running out of candy...
pncoyot3.jpg (24276 bytes) It's Halloween night... Since I'm on Trick'Or'Treat duty and my home office is next to the front door I thought this would be a good time to update my web-site (despite the frequent interuptions - uh oh... there goes the door again... I'll be right back!)...
   Sample Input File

"E",,,"Costs, Expense, Savings",334,01-JAN-90
"X",27-OCT-99,"A,B,C,,,embedded commas,,,","More,,,,,,",999,01-JAN-99
The sample ascii text file above consists of 3 records. Each record contains 6 fields or comma-delimited columns. The text fields are enclosed in double-quotes and may have embedded commas. Now let's post a simple routine to parse each column into a variable and display the variable contents.

Let's assume the the fields represent: code, date, category, description and effective date respectively.

   Main Routine - Parse Input Record into individual variables

!*       Process Main                                                 *

begin-procedure Process-Main

let $c = ','    ! Comma
let $q = '"'    ! Double Quotes

create-array name=PARmtx  size=10  field=PARdata:char

while 1 = 1

   read 1 into $rec:500

   if #end-file = 1

   clear-array name=PARmtx

   let $rec      = rtrim($rec,' ') || $c

   let #len      = length($rec)

   let #q        = 0
   let #idx      = 0
   let #pos      = 1
   let $data     = ''

   while #pos   <= #len

      let $char  = substr($rec, #pos, 1)

      if  $char  = $q
          let #q = #q + 1
          if  $char      = $c
          and mod(#q, 2) = 0
              let PARmtx.PARdata (#idx) = $data
              let #idx   = #idx + 1
              let $data  = ''
              let $data  = $data || $char

      let #pos   = #pos + 1


   let $I_code   = PARmtx.PARdata (0)
   let $I_date   = PARmtx.PARdata (1)
   let $I_cat    = PARmtx.PARdata (2)
   let $I_desc   = PARmtx.PARdata (3)
   let $I_amt    = PARmtx.PARdata (4)
   let $I_effdt  = PARmtx.PARdata (5)

   !   Process Variables (Convert numerics, etc.)

   display ' '
   display ' Code: '     noline
   display $I_code
   display ' Date: '     noline
   display $I_date
   display '  Cat: '     noline
   display $I_cat
   display ' Desc: '     noline
   display $I_desc
   display '  Amt: '     noline
   display $I_amt
   display 'Effdt: '     noline
   display $I_effdt


display ' '



   Sample Output - Displays

 Code: E
 Desc: Costs, Expense, Savings
  Amt: 334
Effdt: 01-JAN-90

 Code: D
 Date: 01-JAN-90
  Cat: Costs

 Code: X
 Date: 27-OCT-99
  Cat: A,B,C,,,embedded commas,,,
 Desc: More,,,,,,
  Amt: 999
Effdt: 01-JAN-99
pngoat01.jpg (70449 bytes) The routine successfully stripped each field into its' own seperate variable. Embedded commas had no effect on the outcome of the operation since they were contained within double-quotes. Take note that after a record is read ($rec) trailing spaces are removed and an additional comma is concatenated to the end of the record. The appended comma provides a definite ending delimiter to the record.

I ran out of Halloween related pictures so I thought I'd post this picture of a mountain goat.

ftoct01.jpg (12389 bytes) I would appreciate any feedback you may have on this site. Send mail to or click on the Octopus.
   Technical difficulties?
pg020.jpg (32251 bytes) Please report any technical difficulties you may encounter to the address above OR click on the Octopus. Thanks.

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Tony DeLia - Updated October 31, 1999