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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software
File Dump

Purpose Of The Tool

From time to time the developer is faced with a problem that requires you to analyze a file's contents byte by byte to see what is causing a difficult-to-find problem. Of special interest in these cases are the non-printing control characters, e.g., carriage return, line feed, tab, escape, etc. In addition, from time to time one needs to compare two such files that SHOULD be exactly alike, but are not. In still other times, one needs to find out if some particular character or character-string is in a file--again allowing for non-printing characters. Such odd-ball cases and problems are the stuff this tool is built to help with.

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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Tool

Start The Tool

On the opening screen or "WELCOME" tab, go to the "Tools" menu, then select the option "File Dump." When this option is selected, you will see an image something like the one shown at right.

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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Tool File Menu Using The Tool

Now that the tool is open, let's begin by looking at the File Menu as shown in the image at right. Here you'll notice that the option allows for open of two files to dump: this is to allow for file comparisons you may need to make. You'll also notice that you can paste the file data into both the file-1 and the file-2 space and that's for the same reason--to compare two files or parts of files.

Here's what the tool looks like with two such files open--just so you get an idea of what all this is about.

ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Sample

As you look at the sample in the image, you'll see that the far-left dump is of file z:\temp\AAupdateClass.vb and the far-right dump is of file z:\temp\AAupdateTemplateCode.vb. Next you might notice that the left-most column contains a line number delimited by a vertical bar character (|). If you look across the sample, you'll see that all four columns begin with the same line number and vertical bar. That's so you'll be able to know for sure that you're comparing the same line number in each file.

Next, you might look at the second-from-left column and wonder what the numbers are: they are the decimal equivalents of the characters shown in the left-most column. Hence, you might imagine that the open-parenthesis is decimal-value 40, the small letter "c" has the decimal value of 99, and the close-parenthesis is decimal value 41.

Now look at line 11 in the sample. Looking at the left-most column you see that it ends in the lower-case letter "e." But if you check that, you'll see that the small "e" is decimal value 101 and you'll now note that the decimal value 101 is followed by two more characters: decimal 13 and decimal 10. So what are these? They are the carriage return and the line feed used to end the line and move down to the next line. You can't see them in the printable version because they are non-printing (kinda) control characters we've talked about above.

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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Finding1

On the "Finding-1" menu, if you use the first option to "Find 1st occurrance of a string" you'll have a small query-box like this one and you should enter a character string you're trying to find. Just as a sample, we typed in "right" and hit the "OK" button. The result looks something like the image below.

The second menu option would find the next instance of the string you just searched for, assuming, of course, that there is a next instance.

ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Finding1 Sample Found right

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Take just a minute to compare the "Finding-1 menu" and the "Finding-2 menu" and you'll see that they parallel each other with the Finding-2 menu working on the right-hand side of the form just as the Finding-1 menu worked on the left-hand side of the form.

ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Finding1 ASCII Value To Find

ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Finding1 ASCII Value Found 13

Now let's talk about the option to "Search for ASCII value." Select this option and you'll see a small form asking for the ASCII value you want to find--see the image at left. You can enter the value here and the tool will find it in the second-from-left column. In our sample image at right, we searched for the CR (13) and it found the first occurrance in line 11.

Notice that you can use the next option to find the next occurrance of the same ASCII value. You can also use the option to "Show Repeat Pattern" and find out if the character repeats in a series of lines where a pattern is recognized--this won't happen often, but it's worth looking at since it can sometimes tell you what's causing a problem you're looking for, or where records all have a non-printing problem.

Much as the previous option set works, the next options you'll see in the menu will let you look for a string that occurs in some sort of pattern. And...the next option set you'll see will do the same thing, but it will look for the string while ignoring case as it looks for the patterns.

The option to "Analyze" will tell us how many characters are between repeats if such a pattern exists. Again, it's worthy of trying it if you're having a strange problem that seems to repeat.

The final option on this menu is the option to "Find First Difference" in the two files. An example of this option in action is shown below just as information.

ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Finding1 Find first difference

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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software File Dump Move Menu

Ah, the "Move Menu"...this simple little menu will let you move to the top or bottom of either file with a single mouse click. That's its entire purpose in life. Period.

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The last menu on this tool is the "Temp-Setup Menu." This menu will allow you to temporarily use a different font, font style, font size, etc. Just click on the menu option and use the Windows® font dialog to make the change you want. Remember this is only a temporary setup change until you close the tool. Next time you use the tool, it will revert to its default setup.

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