Browse Prior Art Database

Method of Using Configurable Definitions to Import Data of a Previously Undisclosed Type

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016547D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Jun-27
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-27
Document File: 2 page(s) / 51K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

In almost all application software there is some need for the file import ability. Many of these have a standard format or context that the flat file imported is designed to conform to. However, due to new projects and work our team has been exposed to in the last year, we have found that often we are faced with the task of inputting a file whose properties are unknown at the time of development of the new application. What would normally occur is a new file import algorithm would need to be generated to handle the new input file regardless of how minor the change may seem. With large corporate projects the chance that new import agents could be needed is great, and therefore the support cost is that much greater. The ability to do a generic parse, based on configurable definitions allows for a quick and easy way to import any data with brilliant accuracy dependent on the detail of the definitions and the decoupling of the parsing algorithm.

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  Method of Using Configurable Definitions to Import Data of a Previously Undisclosed Type

  Across a wide array of applications there is a diverse set of data input methodologies. One of the more commonplace is the acceptance of text files. These text files may range from column-delimited to comma-delimited to structured to spreadsheet-like to near free form. In addition, there may be contained in these files extraneous information not required in the database per se. A previous method for dealing with text file import is to write a custom (just for that file) import agent. As more and more diverse files are presented, it becomes a difficult task to generate and maintain this multitude of custom import agents.

A solution to this probelm is to keep the common code within a single generic import/parsing agent and to represent the "custom" elements required by each file as a set of configurable rules and definitions. These rules and definitions define such things as where in the import file to look for a piece of information, what further parsing/translation is required to process that information and where that information should be placed in its destination (what database, what form, what field.... in what data
format).

This invention significantly reduces the number and size of import agents. The cycle time for maintenance and enhancement has been drastically reduced. In addition, due to the well organized and streamlined nature of these agents, program errors have...