Computer Software for Steel Professionals

Text File Types

Structural Material Manager's External Data Interface (EDI) imports and exports text files.

Text files are often called ASCII files. ASCII stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, and it is pronounced "ask-ee." The ASCII standard defines the numeric representation for each alphanumeric character. For instance, 65 is the corresponding code for capital "A", and 96 is the code for lower-case "a". These codes are unimportant to you as the user; all that matters is that you know that terms "text file" and "ASCII file" mean roughly the same thing (at least in the PC world).

There are two broad categories of ASCII text files with which Structural Material Manager operates: delimited and fixed-field-width.

The term "ASCII-delimited file" simply means that the ASCII text file contains multiple fields with each being separated from the next by a character called a delimiter. For instance, the comma might be the delimiter, and it could separate fields such as Piece Mark, Quantity, Material Type, Description, Length, etc. from one another as shown in these two example lines:
1B1,2,W,10 x 54,20'-3 1/4
p1,4,PL,1/2 x 36,4'-2 9/16

The other major category of text file is the fixed-field-width file. Fixed-field-width files simply have certain data fields at certain column positions, and no delimiters or text qualifiers are necessary. For instance, the Piece Mark field might occupy the first so many columns of a fixed-field-width file, and the Quantity field might occupy the next so many columns.

Structural Material Manager can import bills of material in both formats. That is, imports can be done from files that other applications exported as delimited text files or as fixed-field-width text files. Delimited files are generally exported from Microsoft Excel, and some CAD systems export their bills of material to E.J.E. Industries' published delimited file format. Most CAD systems that don't export delimited files do export to E.J.E. Industries' published fixed-field-width format. Only a couple of CAD systems export to neither E.J.E. Industries' published delimited file format nor our published fixed-field-width format, but fortunately those systems export to an entirely different type of text file call KISS which Structural Material Manager does indeed recognize.

When exporting data to other systems, Structural Material Manager always uses a delimited format. It never exports to a fixed-field-width format.

With the basic differences between the different fiel types out of the way, you can now choose the specific type of data exchange in which you are interested: