By 'data files' I'm assuming you mean Psion 'Data' files,
i.e. the flat file databases created by the built-in application. These are
often used on early Psions for storing contact and miscellaneous information.
The problem, as you've probably found out, is that any
attempt to export from Data in 'CSV' (Comma Separated Values) text, or similar,
is usually thwarted by the way embedded carriage returns (i.e. every time you
pressed 'Enter') in a Notes field are passed through into the export file. So
the 'one entry per line' ethos of using delimited text to transfer database
entries is ruined.
On the face of it, this is a huge problem. If you're
technical, then these brief instructions should give you some pointers. If you
find yourself struggling then see the email link at the bottom 8-)
Using Codetran to strip embedded carriage returns
Firstly, grab yourself the codetran utility (11k). It's a command line tool
and runs under any version of DOS or Windows. Its core purpose is to scan for
specific hex character strings and replace them with others of your choice. The
lengths don't have to match, either. See the documentation in the ZIP file for
- In Data on your Psion Series 5 or 5mx, open up the data
file to be 'converted'
- Use 'File > Export as text file' and enter an output
file name ending in 'txt'. Tap on 'Options' and set the dialog fields to
'None', 'Other', '^', 'Other' and '|'.
- Hit 'OK'. What you're doing is using the ^ character as
the delimiter between fields and the | character as the delimiter between
entries. In other words, you're divorcing yourself from any reliance on
embedded commas or carriage returns.
- With codetran.com and your Psion-exported database .txt
file in the same folder, on the command line, type "CODETRAN MYFILE.TXT 13 10 :
59". This replaces all the embedded carriage returns with a semi-colon, a
useful way of breaking up your notes while still keeping the text within a
- Now it's time to change the wierd delimiters back to
something more standard. Use "CODETRAN MYFILE.TXT 94 : 9" to change the ^
characters to tabs, and "CODETRAN MYFILE.TXT 124 : 13 10" to convert the |
characters back to carriage returns.
- You now have a properly delimited text file that can be
imported into any database system or spreadsheet on any computer.
One caveat to the above is that if you've used tab
characters or ^ or | in your database, then you'll have to adjust the procedure
as appropriate. Or call in the experts - see below 8-)
If you have anything to add to (or ask about) this
article, or if you'd like to commission me to do the conversion work for you,
please email me!