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Qimera Custom ASCII File Configuration Dialog

How to Start

  • This dialog isn't launched on its own, but is instead used by various other dialogs to import ASCII data.

What it Does

This dialog allows the user to describe the layout (and potentially the meaning) of a plain text data file, so that the application can properly parse and import the data.

The dialog maintains a history of past used configurations and when launched will attempt find a configuration matching the contents of the current file.

General Description

The dialog is divided into three main sections: settings applying to the entire file at the top, the configuration of the individual columns in the middle, and a marked up preview of file contents.

Header Lines to Skip

Many ASCII files have one or more header lines, providing metadata about the file. Use this setting to have the application skip over all such lines before attempting to interpret any data.

Number of Columns

Set this to the total number of columns (fields) in the file. Note that even if only the first few columns are need to be imported, all fields must be described to ensure the data is read properly.

Decimal Mark

Switch this field from Period to Comma if the file was generated in a language that use commas to separate the whole and fractional parts of a number.

Column Separator

This setting controls how the characters between the end of one column and the beginning of the next are interpreted. The common separators Comma, Space and Tab can be selected directly, or choose Other to specify any other single character. The default option, Automatic, treats and group of commas, spaces or tabs as a separator.

Save Configuration...

Saves the current state of the dialog to file to be later loaded and applied to a different file or moved to another computer.

Load Configuration...

Loads a configuration file previously saved via Save Configuration....

Column Properties

Each column in the data file has its own row of configuration options. The number of rows is controlled by the Number of Columns setting.


Shows the number of the column and the color used to highlight that column in the File Contents Preview.

Data Type

Specifies the type (in a computer science sense) of data contained the column. This is entirely separate from what the value means or how it should be interpreted.

  • Numeric
    • Used for decimal numbers which may or may not have a fractional part following a decimal point.
    • Which character is treated as the decimal point is controlled by the Decimal Mark setting.
    • Some numeric fields provide an option for specifying the sign convention used.
  • Integer
    • Used for positive or negative whole numbers.
    • The only reason to prefer Integer fields over Numeric ones is that they occupy half the memory and disk space.
  • Text
    • Used for sequences of characters that should be interpreted as just that.
    • Options control whether the text is variable length, double quoted, single quoted, or fixed length.
  • Date-Time
    • Used for dates and/or times that are stored as several component parts.
    • A format string is used to specify the format of the data. Press the Format Help button for a detailed description of the format description syntax, along with lots of examples.
    • To parse time store as just a number of seconds, it is much easier to just use a Numeric field.
  • Degrees-Minutes-Seconds
    • Used for latitudes or longitudes that have minute or seconds components or that use a N/S or E/W suffix to indicate sign.
    • Again, a format string is used to specify the format of the data. Press the Format Help button for a detailed description of the format description syntax, along with lots of examples.
    • To parse latitudes or longitudes stored as a signed number of decimal degrees, it is much easier to just use a Numeric field.

Use As

Controls how the column is used by the import process. The available options are entirely dependent on the kind of import being performed. If no field mapping is specified, the column with be ignored entirely. Some field mappings are mandatory while others are optional.

Note that some imports do not allow specifying this directly in the ASCII configuration dialog and require using a separate dialog to map the input columns to data fields.


This shows additional configuration options which depend on the values chosen for Data Type and Use As. See the Data Type section for more details.

File Contents Preview

This displays a preview of the first few lines of the file, marked up to show how the columns were interpreted and where errors, if any, occurred. If multiple files are being imported, previews are shown for each.

A small message below the preview indicates whether the sample was parsed successfully.

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