Pipeline 3


 

APPENDIX B - FORMATTING ASCII EXPORT FIELDS

 

Virtually all files in Pipeline can be exported to ASCII. This is a standard format understood by all utility programs, such as Spreadsheets, Databases and Word-processors. This gives you the flexibility to format reports, etc. in ways not otherwise available in Pipeine.

 

ASCII files are defined as flat files containing only uncompressed, alphanumeric data, one record per line with <CR> or <CR> <LF> at the end of each line. Within this structure it is still possible to choose the format of each field. Each program within Pipeline allows you to access a screen, which sets the defaults for these options. The screen is always asked for and can be returned to by pressing <F4>.

 

It is advised that you give the export file a name ending in .CSV to make programs such as Excel automatically understand the format. It is possible to call them what you like but you have to go through extra steps to import them into programs like Excel. The default name is normally the data file name with .CSV replacing .DAT and the directory initially defaults to your normal data directory. You can change it from this, as required.

 

When using DOS based installations (including MS-Windows) below Win98, you should limit the names of directories to 8 characters without any imbedded spaces. This is a limitation in some versions of Windows but is not a limitation in Unix. Unix and WindowsXP, and above, can handle long file names. If Pipeline finds that the operating system rejects the name, an error will be displayed and you will need to start the export procedure again. In either case, do not imbed spaces. Pipeline will truncate any characters after the first space it finds as spaces confuse most operating systems - even the ones that purport to work correctly with long file names (including Windows and Unix). Also, there are some restrictions on special characters. These include ()\&. etc. The exact list depends on your operating system.

 

It is not advisable to save the export into the root directory. This can clutter the file system and cause errors in other programs. Create a new directory (folder) and save the export to that. Eg a valid but poor name would be c:\EXPORT.csv a better name would be c:\dload\EXPORT.csv. Remember to create c:\dload first.

 

Typically the screen will appear as follows:

 

 

The list of options is as follows:

 

FILE NAME This field contains the name of the file you wish to create. The default name is #<FILENAME>.CSV (where # is replaced by the data directory name, eg. H:\SHARED\COMP1\ and <FILENAME> is normally the source filename as it exists in the data directory.). However, this can be changed to any valid DOS (or UNIX) path name. Be very careful if you enter a name suffixed by DAT, KEY, BAT, EXE or COM as it is possible to overwrite normal files used by Pipeline. In a DOS/Windows environment, it is also possible to choose a name such as PRN or COM1 so that the export will be sent directly to a printer or a communications port. Pipeline will automatically truncate the name from the first space encountered, so do not leave embedded spaces or leading spaces in the name. Pipeline will warn you if the file you are about to create already exists.

 

If you have entered an impossible name, Pipeline will display an error message. You should go back and check that the path you have entered actually exists. Make sure that the drive name exists. If you have entered a relative path, you should be careful that it points to a real directory. It is best to enter absolute path name (ie the full path name, starting from the drive letter, in Windows) as then there is no confusion. Furthermore, the file you are trying to create must not be in use by a different program or user. A common mistake is to open a CSV file in Excel and forget to close it before trying to re-export. In this case, Excel will lock the file and Pipeline, being unable to write to it, will display an error. Windows cannot distinguish between when a file is impossible, or locked. Therefore the same error message is displayed by Pipeline for each of these conditions vis: ILLEGAL ASCII FILE-NAME OR DIRECTORY-NAME, OR THE FILE IS OPEN ELSEWHERE - PRESS <ESC>.

 

SURROUND ALPHA FIELDS WITH QUOTATION MARKS Some applications require quotation marks " around alpha-numeric fields, eg. names. To force Pipeline to do this, enter a Y here.

 

SURROUND NUMERIC FIELDS WITH QUOTATION MARKS Some applications require quotation marks " around numeric fields, eg. dollar values. To force Pipeline to do this, enter a Y.

 

SEPARATE FIELDS WITH A SPACE If it is necessary to leave a space between fields, enter Y here, otherwise Pipeline will not leave spaces between export fields. This function is sometimes referred to as space delimited. It is rarely used by itself.

 

SEPARATE FIELDS WITH A COMMA Most word-processor and spreadsheet programs require a comma between each successive field. This is referred to as comma delimited. If your application does not require a comma, enter N here.

 

REMOVE REDUNDANT SPACES FROM ALPHA FIELDS Word-processors normally accept alphanumeric fields blindly. This can leave unnecessary spaces in a mail merge. To avoid this, enter Y here. Pipeline will then remove all leading and trailing spaces from alphanumeric fields when they are export. This procedure is more time consuming and should not be used if it is not required. Furthermore, some older spreadsheet programs, eg. LOTUS V2.2 become confused by varying field lengths. For these programs, you must always answer N.

 

REMOVE REDUNDANT SPACES FROM NUMERIC FIELDS This question is similar to the previous one but relates to numeric fields only, eg. dollar values. As with the previous question, you should normally answer Y for word-processors and N for spreadsheets.

 

SHOW ALL DIGITS IN DATE FIELDS Certain spreadsheet programs, eg Excel V7 and above, have a bug that causes them to read 1/01/2001 as an alpha-field rather than as a date. To work around this bug, Pipeline can be told to export the field with all leading digits exposed, ie 01/01/2001. If you experience this problem, answer Y in for this option, otherwise it is preferable to leave it as N.

 

INCLUDE HEADING IN FIRST LINE OF EXPORT If you intend to use the output for mail-merge purposes, it is preferable to head each output with the name of the field. Pipeline will export a unique, and consistent, name for you to use, if you enter a Y here. For spreadsheet programs, the headings do not usually get in the way.

 

EXPORT LONG NAMES IN HEADINGS This option is only relevant if you have answered Y to the previous field. The screen that follows this one in the export program is a list of all possible fields. These appear as short (maximum 20 characters) name, which is the normal name, and a sometimes much longer, more descriptive name. For instance, period dates may have LAST YEAR BALANCE 5 as the short name and BALANCE NOVEMBER OF LAST-YEAR as the long name. Typically you would use the short name in exports because the heading will not change from export to export. If you wish to export the long name, answer Y here. Note that if you intend to use the ASCII IMPORT function, you should use the short name option.

 

Note that the options you choose are specific to the file you are exporting, and your USERCODE. You can thus choose specific export options for, say General Ledger Transactions and different options for Creditor Transactions. Also, the options you choose (eg file name) are independent of anyone else logging in with another USERCODE. It should also be noted that your choices are saved and become the initial choices (for you) next time you wish to export the same file.

 

Hint: Normally, Pipeline displays and prints negative numbers with the sign trailing. This is the standard accounting convention (other than putting negatives in brackets). The purpose of trailing signes is to a) avoid clashing with the dollar sign and b) to make them more visible when printed in columns. Unfortunately, Excel gets totally confused when presented with this format. Thus, Pipeline will export numeric fields with the sign leading (ie on the left of the number).

 

Hint: Some fields are poorly handled by Excel. This specifically relates to long numbers and numbers starting with a zero. Unfortunately, there are several fields that do this. They included: phone numbers, barcodes, etc. These fields will have the leading zeros removed and might be transformed into scientific notation. (Probably not the desired result.) If you intend to export these fields, it is best to use a suffix other than .CSV. Choose .TXT or .DAT, etc. This will force Excel to ask you how to handle the fields. You can then force Excel to import these columns as text fields, thus avoiding the issue,

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