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  Craig B. Markwardt, NASA/GSFC Code 662, Greenbelt, MD 20770


  Parse a tabular ASCII data file or string array.

Calling Sequence



  TRANSREAD parses an ASCII table into IDL variables, one variable
  for each column in the table. The tabular data is not limited to
  numerical values, and can be processed with an IDL FORMAT
  expression or with a delimeter character.
  TRANSREAD behaves similarly to READF/READS in that it transfers
  ASCII input data into IDL variables. The difference is that
  TRANSREAD reads more than one row in one pass, and returns data by
  column. In a sense, it forms the *transpose* of the typical
  output from READF or READS (which returns data by row), hence the
  name TRANSREAD. [ TRANSREAD can parse up to 20 columns in its
  current implementation, but that number can be easily increased. ]
  TRANSREAD can optionally be provided with a FORMAT expression to
  control the transfer of data. The usage is the same as for
  READ/READF/READS. However, you may find that you need to slightly
  modify your format statements to read properly. In this
  implementation, variables are intermediately parsed with READS,
  which appears from my experimentation to require at least a
  default length for transfers.
  Hence, you should use: ..., FORMAT='(D0.0,D0.0,I0)' ; GOOD
  instead of: ..., FORMAT='(D,D,I)' ; BAD
  As with the standard IDL READ-style commands, you need to supply
  initial values to your variables before calling TRANSREAD, which
  are used to determine the type. Then dimensions of the variable
  are not important; TRANSREAD will grow the arrays to an
  appropriate size to accomodate the input. Lines from the input
  which do not contain the correct number of columns or do not obey
  the format statement are ignored.
  TRANSREAD will also flexibly manage typical data files, which may
  contain blank lines, lines with comments (see COMMENT keyword), or
  incomplete lines. These lines are ignored. It can be programmed
  to wait for a user-specified "trigger" phrase in the input before
  beginning or ending processing, which can be useful if for example
  the input table contains some header lines (see STARTCUE and
  STOPCUE keywords). [ The user can also pre-read these lines
  before calling TRANSREAD. ] Finally, the total number of lines
  read can be controlled (see MAXLINES keyword). TRANSREAD parses
  until (a) the file ends, (b) the STOPCUE condition is met or (c)
  the number of lines read reaches MAXLINES.
  TRANSREAD has three possible usages. In the first, the file must
  already be open, and TRANSREAD begins reading at the current file
  position. In the second usage, a filename is given. TRANSREAD
  automatically opens the file, and reads tabular data from the
  beginning of the file. Normally the file is then closed, but this
  can be prevented by using the NOCLOSE keyword.
  In the third usage, a string array is passed instead of a file
  unit. Elements from the array are used one-by-one as if they were
  read from the file.
  Since TRANSREAD is not vectorized, and does a significant amount
  of processing on a per-line basis, it is probably not optimal to
  use on very large data files.


  UNIT - in the first usage, UNIT is an open file unit which
          contains ASCII tabular data to read. UNIT must not be a
          variable which could be mistaken for a string array.
          In the second usage, when FILENAME is specified, then upon
          return UNIT contains the file unit that TRANSREAD used for
          reading. Normally, the UNIT is closed before return, but
          it can be kept open using the NOCLOSE keyword. In that
          case the unit should be closed with FREE_LUN.
  STRINGARRAY - this is the third usage of TRANSREAD. When a string
                array is passed, elements from the array are used as
                if they were lines from an input file. The array
                must not be of a numeric type, so it cannot be
                mistaken for a file unit. [ Of course, the string
                itself can contain ASCII numeric data. ]


  VARi - List of named variables to receive columns from the table,
          one variable for each column. Upon output each variable
          will be an array containing the same number of elements,
          one for each row in the table. If no rows were
          successfully parsed, then the variable values are not
          changed. Use the COUNT output keyword to determine whether
          any rows were parsed.
          NOTE: Up to twenty columns may be parsed. If more columns
          are desired, then a simple modification must be made to the
          IDL source code. To do so, find the beginning of the
          procdure definition, identified by the words, "pro
          transread, ..." and follow the instructions there.

Input Keyword Parameters

  FORMAT - an IDL format expression to be used to transfer *each*
            row in the table. If no format as given then the default
            IDL transfer format is used, based on the types of the
            input variables. As mentioned in the description above,
            a length should be assigned to each format code; a length
            of zero can be used for numeric types. Lines from the
            input which do not contain the correct number of columns
            or do not obey the format statement are ignored.
  DELIM - A ASCII character string which separates (delimits) each
          field in each row. This is commonly a comma or space. When
          the DELIM keyword is used, the FORMAT string does not
          require lengths for each variable. This allows data
          entries in the text file to vary from line to line. For


              TRANSREAD, UNIT, A,B,C, DELIM=',', FORMAT='(A,I,F)', FILENAME='file.csv'
          Notice that the format expression does not specify the
          length of variables A, B, and C. They are separated by ','
          on each line.
  COMMENT - A one-character string which designates a "comment" in
            the input. Input lines beginning with this character
            (preceded by optional spaces) are ignored. FAILCOUNT
            does not increase.
            DEFAULT: no comments are recognized.
            NOTE: lines which do not match the format statement are
            ignored. Comments are likely to be ignored based on
            this behavior, even without specifying the COMMENT
            keyword; however the FAILCOUNT will increase.
  MAXLINES - the maximum number of lines to be read from input. The
              count begins *after* any STARTCUE is satisfied (if any)
              DEFAULT: no maximum is imposed.
  SKIPLINES - the number of lines of input to skip before beginning
              to parse the table.
              DEFAULT: no lines are skipped.
              NOTE: if STARTCUE is also given, then the line count
              does not start until after the STARTCUE phrase has
              been encountered.
  STARTCUE - a unique string phrase that triggers the start of
              parsing. Lines up to and including the line containing
              the cue are ignored. Because each line is checked for
              this starting cue, it should be unambiguous.
              DEFAULT: parsing begins immediately.
  STOPCUE - a unique string phrase that triggers the finishing of
            parsing. The line including the cue is ignored, and no
            more reads occur afterward.
            DEFAULT: no STOPCUE is imposed.
  FILENAME - the presence of this keyword signals the second usage,
              where TRANSREAD explicitly opens the input file named
              by the string FILENAME. Reading begins at the start of
              the file.
              Normally TRANSREAD will close the input file when it
              finishes. This can be prevented by setting the NOCLOSE
              DEFAULT: input is either an already-opened file passed
              via the UNIT keyword, or a string array.
  NOCLOSE - if set and if FILENAME is given, then the file is not
            closed upon return. The file unit is returned in UNIT,
            and must be closed by the user via FREE_LUN, UNIT.
            DEFAULT: any files that TRANSREAD opens are closed.
  DEBUG - set this keyword to enable debugging messages. Detailed
          error messages will be printed for each failed line.

Output Keywords

  LINES - the number of lines read, including comments and failed
  COUNT - the number of rows successfully parsed. Can be zero if
          accessing the input utterly fails, or if no rows are
  FAILCOUNT - the number of rows that could not be parsed
              successfully. Comments and blank lines are not


  OPENR, UNIT, 'widgets.dat', /GET_LUN
  A = '' & B = 0L & C = 0D
  (First usage) Opens widgets.dat and reads three columns. The
  first column is a ten-character string, the second an integer, and
  the third a double precision value.
  A = '' & B = 0L & C = 0D
  (Second usage) Achieves the same effect as the first example, but
  TRANSREAD opens and closes the file automatically.
  SPAWN, 'cat widgets.dat', BUF
  A = '' & B = 0L & C = 0D
  (Third usage) Achieves the same effect as the first two examples,
  but input is read from the string variable BUF.
  A = '' & B = 0L & C = 0D
  (Fourth usage) Example with DELIM keyword. Here the delimeter is
      a comma (DELIM=',').

Modification History

  Feb 1999, Written, CM
  Mar 1999, Added SKIPLINES and moved on_ioerror out of loop, CM
  Jun 2000, Added NOCATCH and DEBUG keyword options, CM
  Jul 2009, Added DELIM keyword, thanks to Chris Holmes

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