XTRAN Example — XTRAN Data Bases
The following example uses an XTRAN rule set comprising 132 non-comment lines of "meta-code" (XTRAN's rules language).
The rules took less than two hours to write and about ½ hour to debug. (That's right, just over two hours total!)
Note that this example is not intended to be a serious data retrieval application; it is to show how using XTRAN data bases in your XTRAN rules makes code and data manipulation both easy and flexible.
Using an XTRAN data base to organize and retrieve data
In this example, the XTRAN rules read data as comma-separated values (CSV), and store the data in an XTRAN data base as follows:
|<rcdnum>||Record fields, as comma-separated values|
|<label>||<value>||<rcdnum>s whose field labeled <label> has <value>|
The rules ignore any input line that is empty or starts with a semicolon, and they assume that the first non-comment input line comprises field labels. This is a common way to handle delimiter separated values (DSV).
The rules then repeatedly prompt the user for a field label and corresponding value for which to search, and display the records found, with the search field suppressed.
Since these XTRAN rules read and parse only text, we use a version of XTRAN that parses its own rules language, but not any other language.
NOTE that although this example happens to involve personnel data, by using different field labels and corresponding data, these exact same rules can store and retrieve any kind of data -- for instance, a global symbol cross-reference extracted from a large software system using XTRAN code analysis rules , to allow browsing the information interactively.
How can such powerful and generalized data storage and retrieval be automated in 2 hours and only 132 lines of XTRAN rules? Because there is so much capability already available as part of XTRAN's rules language. The rules used for this example take advantage of the following functionality provided by that rules language:
- Text file input and output
- Text manipulation
- Text formatting
- Delimited list manipulation
- Environment variable manipulation
- Content-addressable data bases
The input to and output from XTRAN are untouched.
Here is a flowchart for this process, in which the elements are color coded:
- BLUE for XTRAN versions (runnable programs)
- ORANGE for XTRAN rules (text files)
- PURPLE for text data files
Input to XTRAN:
; Field labels: last-name,first-name,age,gender ; Data: Cooper,Janice,73,F Dodson,Frank,45,M Dodson,Mary,43,F Jones,William,21,M Smith,Gregory,22,M Smith,Alice,21,F Smith,Lulu,3,F Williams,Mary,63,F
Interactive results (this indicates user
Reading data base... Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: ?<ENTER> <fldnam> must be one of: last-name,first-name,age,gender Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: first-name=Mary<ENTER> last-name = Dodson age = 43 gender = F last-name = Williams age = 63 gender = F Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: age=21<ENTER> last-name = Jones first-name = William gender = M last-name = Smith first-name = Alice gender = F Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: last-name=Dodson<ENTER> first-name = Frank age = 45 gender = M first-name = Mary age = 43 gender = F Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: age=99<ENTER> No records qualify. Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: gender=F<ENTER> last-name = Cooper first-name = Janice age = 73 last-name = Dodson first-name = Mary age = 43 last-name = Smith first-name = Alice age = 21 last-name = Smith first-name = Lulu age = 3 last-name = Williams first-name = Mary age = 63 Enter <fldnam>=<value> or ? for help [done]: <ENTER>