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texpand tables



texpand -- Expand table rows according to a set of rules.


texpand input output rbase


This task uses a set of rules to convert each row in the input table into one or more rows in the output table. Except for these conversions, the output table is identical to the input table. The set of rules is contained in a text file specified by the rbase parameter. Each rule has two parts, the target and the action.

Rules are applied in the following ways. The task reads a row from the input table. It then looks at the target part of each rule in the rules file in the order that they were placed in the file. If the input row does not match the target part of any rule, it is written to the output table without being changed. Otherwise, the first rule whose target matches the input row is used to convert the input row. The columns and values contained in the action part of the rule are used to modify the input row to produce a new output row. After the new row is produced, the set of rules is searched again to see if any of the rules can be applied to the new row. This process continues until no further matches can be found, at which point the new rows are written to the output table.

For example, suppose the following rules are contained in the rules file:

SEX = M && NAME = ANY => NAME = Tom || NAME = Dick || NAME = Harry;
SEX = F && NAME = ANY => NAME = Mary || NAME = Jane;
SEX = X => SEX = M || SEX = F;

And suppose the input table contains the following information:

ANY		X		Astronomer

The first two rules impose two conditions, the first on the value of the SEX column and the second on the value of the NAME column. While the value of the NAME column matches the conditions in the first two rules, the value of SEX does not. The third rule only imposes one condition, which does match the row in the input table. Thus the third rule of the rule file is applied to the input table and the following intermediate result is produced:

ANY		M		Astronomer
ANY		F		Astronomer

The rules file is searched again, and now the first rule matches the first row and the second rule matches the second row. So the following result is produced when these two rules are applied:

Tom		M		Astronomer
Dick		M		Astronomer
Harry		M		Astronomer
Mary		F		Astronomer
Jane		F		Astronomer

The rules file is searched again, and because no matches are found, the results are written to the output table.

The above example shows some of the syntax of the rules file. The target and action parts of a rule are separated by the symbol "=>" and the entire rule is terminated by a semicolon. Unlike the above example, a rule need not be contained on a single line; it can be split among as many lines as desired, since the semicolon marks the end of the rule. The amount of white space used is also optional, symbols and identifiers may be run together or separated by blanks, tabs, and blank lines. Comments may be placed on any line; they begin with the "#" character and run to the end of the line. The different conditions in the target part of a rule are separated by the symbol "&&". Each condition consists of a column name and a column value separated by an equals sign. The different results in the action part of a rule are separated by the symbol "||". Each result consists of a set of column names and values separated by equals signs. If there is more than one column name and value in the result, the different name/value pairs are separated by "&&" symbols. An example of a rule with all these syntax elements is:

TARGET = ANY && OBSERVER = ANY =>		   # Two conditions
	TARGET=M31 && OBSERVER = HUBBLE ||	   # First result

Notice that in the above example that an identifier containing a blank can be used if the identifier is enclosed in quotes. Double quotes could also have been used. Case is significant in an identifier. If a syntax error is detected in a rules file or a column is named which does occur in the input table, the task is terminated with a syntax error. The error message contains the line and line number where the error was detected and a brief message indicating the type of error.

This task can also be used to process more than one table by using file name templates for the input and output parameters instead of file names. Because processing each table takes a relatively long time, the parameter verbose can be set to "yes" so that the name of each table will be displayed when it is processed.


input [file name template]
Name of a table, or list of tables, used as input to the task
output [file name template]
Name of a table, or list of tables, to be produced as output to the task. The number of input and output tables must be equal.
rbase [file name]
The file containing the rules used to expand the tables.
(debug = "") [file name]
The file containg the debugging output. If the file name is blank or null, no debugging output is produced. When creating a set of rules, the output produced by this task is not always what you expect. Turning on the debugging output prints all the intermediate rule expansions to the designated file as an aid in debugging the set of rules.
(verbose = no) [boolean]
Display the names of the input and output tables on the terminal screen (i.e., STDOUT) after each file is processed?


1. Expand the table example into example_2 using the rules in xrules.txt:

tt> texpand xrules.txt

2. Expand a set of fos tables using the rules in fosrules.txt:

tt> texpand y*.tab y* fosrules.txt verbose+


The task cannot expand tables with boolean columns.


This task was written by Bernie Simon.


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