Transforming ascii file (pseduo database) into proper database

John Machin sjmachin at
Mon Jan 21 22:39:51 CET 2008

On Jan 22, 7:51 am, "p." <ppetr... at> wrote:
> I need to take a series of ascii files and transform the data
> contained therein so that it can be inserted into an existing
> database. The ascii files are just a series of lines, each line
> containing fields separated by '|' character. Relations amongst the
> data in the various files are denoted through an integer identifier, a
> pseudo key if you will. Unfortunately, the relations in the ascii file
> do not match up with those in the database in which i need to insert
> the data, i.e., I need to transform the data from the files before
> inserting into the database. Now, this would all be relatively simple

I'm glad you think so ... we don't have a clear understanding of the

> if not for the following fact: The ascii files are each around 800MB,
> so pulling everything into memory and matching up the relations before
> inserting the data into the database is impossible.
> My questions are:
> 1. Has anyone done anything like this before, and if so, do you have
> any advice?
> 2. In the abstract, can anyone think of a way of amassing all the
> related data for a specific identifier from all the individual files
> without pulling all of the files into memory and without having to
> repeatedly open, search, and close the files over and over again?

It would help enormously if you clarified whether the "identifier"
identifies entities or relationships between entities. Is there a
different series of "identifiers" for each (say) type of relationship?

1. Sort each of the N ascii files into "identifier" order. Do an N-way
merge to get all the data for each "identifier" in the same place at
the same time, rearrange it, and insert it into the final database.


2. Load each of the N ascii files into a table in a project-temporary
database. Create a suitably-structured index on the "identifier"
column in each table. Do an N-way merge using SQL inner/outer
joins ...

How big is N anyway? How many unique "identifiers"?

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