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PaulD asked Spirent_Admin answered

Delimited versus Positional Table Maps

Someone asked me recently whether they should be using "delimited" or "positional" when they are creating a table map.


This choice describes how iTest will figure out how to separate each line into columns.  Delimited means that a certain "delimiter" character will be found in between each cell in the row, and won't be found inside the cell contents.  Positional means that cells are found at certain column positions (counting characters from the start of the row).


If you can get away with using delimited, then you should.  It's much easier and more robust (in most cases) than positional.  A great example of a delimited table is CSV (comma-separated values).  The delimiter is a comma in this case.  Another very common example are whitespace-delimited tables -- where each cell is separated by spaces and/or tabs from the next cell.  Unfortunately, whitespace-delimited tables can be trouble if certain cell contents are empty (in which case it looks like a cell is missing).  Another problem with whitespace-delimited tables is the case where cells may contain whitespace themselves.  However, one exception to this restriction is where the only cells that might contain whitespace are in the last column.  In this case, iTest knows that the remainder of the line must correspond to the last column -- even though it may contain whitespace.  This is actually quite common -- as many tables use the last column for some unstructured information (like a comment or name or something that might contain whitespace) whereas the other columns contain more structured text.


Another common hangup with using delimited tables is when there is a special character (like asterisk or something) that may or may not show up in front of some rows.  Essentially this is another column whose contents are optional -- and therefore delimiter is not going to work in this case.


If delimited does work for you, however, it is nice, because all you need to define is the type of delimiter and name the columns and iTest will do the rest for you.


If your table cannot be split into columns using a delimiter, then you're going to have to define a positional table.  This may actually be a little bit more intuitive, but it takes a little more work.  You need to tell iTest about each column -- including how many characters are in that column.  Luckily, iTest has a nice editor in the Response view that will let you drag and drop column dividers to make it easy to set column widths without having to count out the widths by hand.


Here's a good example of a table that should be handled using delimited:


IP Address    Host       Uptime (min)   Comment

----------    ----       ------------   -------------------------------    pkpc                 52   Not responding    joesdt             2525    server2              15   Online


Here's an example of one where you're going to have to use positional, because there are cells containing whitespace, and some cells are empty


  IP Address    Name      State   Uptime   Comment

  ----------    ----      -----   ------   -------------------------------    pk pc     DOWN             Not responding

*    joes dt   UP        2525

*    server2   UP          15   Online


 I've included response maps for each of these to show how they work.

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