ffe (Flat file extractor) – Tool for parsing flat and CSV files and converting them to different formats

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Flat file extractor (ffe) can be used for parsing different flat file structures and printing them in different formats. ffe can also process fixed length binary files. ffe is a command line tool developed in GNU/Linux environment and it is distributed under GNU General Public License 2 or later. ffe has been build using GNU autotools so it should be possible to build ffe in many kinds UNIX-like systems.
Main areas of use are:

* Extracting particular fields or records from a flat file, text or binary
* Converting data from one format to an other, e.g. from CSV to fixed length
* Verifying a flat file structure
* Testing tool for flat file development
* Displaying flat file content in human readable form
* Modifying flat file structures
* Map flat file fields to another format

Main features

* Command-line tool
* Reads standard input and writes to standard output as default
* One input file can contain several types of records (lines or binary blocks)
* Fields in a flat file can be fixed length text or binary fields or separated fields
* Input file structure and output definitions are independent, meaning one output format can be used with several input files
* Input file structure and output format are configurable, they are not predefined
* Output can be formatted e.g.: fixed length, separated, tokenized, XML, SQL,...
* ffe tries to guess the input format, user needs not to give it as a parameter

Install ffe in ubuntu

sudo apt-get install ffe


Example of fixed length flat file containing fields ‘FirstName','LastName' and ‘Age':

John Ripper 23
Scott Tiger 45
Mary Moore 41

This file can be printed in XML with the following configuration:

structure personnel {

type fixed

output XML

record person {

field FirstName 9

field LastName  13

field Age 2


output XML {

file_header "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"ISO-8859-1\"?>\n"

data "<%n>%d</%n>\n"

record_header "<%r>\n"

record_trailer "</%r>\n"

indent " "

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1 Response

  1. RawShark says:

    I like this – can see many uses for a tool like this. Thanks 🙂

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