== Timoteo Ponce's blog ==

Old Programmer tales - reading data in flat file

Recently we’ve been working with flat files, the reason is mainly that legacy systems export and import data in that format or in some sort of propietary binary format.

So, flat files, the interesting thing about these flat files is that they have an complex structure that doesn’t fit into the model of all the existing libraries we’ve tried to use to parse it. What do we do then?

We implement our own flat-file parsing/writing components

Remember back in the day when we had to implement all our stuff to read data and not rely on an already implemented and popular libray? Well, we’ve done it, it’s not that complex and it’s quite performant.

But, we needed to ask a partner company to do the same in their platform (which uses a different programming platform) and we were told that such thing would not be possible because that file structure is not supported in their platform and there are no libraries available that enable such support.

Initially we thought, that it’s reasonable, they have no experience with this format and perhaps need a bit of support, but after showing them how we did it, they just complained “we shouldn’t use something that handles files that is not public in a library”.

This is interesting, these are mostly young programmers, and without even trying to make it work, they just quit on the task. We know that they are capable of doing these things, they just don’t have the mindset to do it.

My two cents in this story is that, being old has advantages, we can get things done, and if we can’t initially, we find support or ask for help and we make it happen.