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Monday, February 28, 2005

Validating Flat Files

There are still a lot of flat files out there. And there are a lot of SAS programmers who have to deal with them. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who create flat files that don't understand their structure, or lack thereof.

I worked for a company that had a lot of vendors providing flat files of data. These vendors thought nothing of randomly expanding/shrinking columns and shifting data all over the place. Their DB was able to handle it, no problem. But when the flat file would get passed to us it would cause all kinds of headaches. What to do?

Check the dates. Try to get a date at the end of the record, read it in using a date informat and then check the result. If anything gets shifted around you either get a date that is very unrealistic or missing. Sure it's pretty simplistic, and not totally foolproof, but every programmer that saw it understood it. And more importantly, because it took 2 minutes to code, everybody used it and incorporated it into their own code. And suddenly life was better.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent suggestion ... check the dates. Why didn't I think of that?