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Nice post. I've learnt too many of these the hard way with inherited formats. In particular, one format lacked easily identifiable record types so the a record's subtype may depend on the first field or the first and second, the length of the second depending on the first...

Other thoughts:

  • Dependency ordered records, that is parents before their children.
  • Count, checksum or hash at the end (I think a line count gives a false sense of protection from corruption).
  • The two points above make file processing more streamable.
  • Consider specifying character encodings.
  • Don't be cryptic to save characters, have a plain text format and zip it.
See also the Art of Unix Programming

In reply to Re: Thoughts on designing a file format. by bsb
in thread Thoughts on designing a file format. by demerphq

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