So, following previous blog entries about importing fixed width data, from Postgres Online Journal and David (perl) Fetter, I couldn’t resist following the meme and showing how to achieve the same thing with pgloader.

A companion article using more recent software is available at Import fixed width data with pgloader, check it out!

I can’t say how much I dislike such things as the following, and I can’t help thinking that non IT people are right looking at us like this when encountering such prose.

map {s/\D*(\d+)-(\d+).*/$a.="A".(1+$2-$1). " "/e} split(/\n/,<<'EOT');

So, the pgloader way. First you need to have setup a database, I called it pgloader here. Then you need the same CREATE TABLE as on the original article, here is it for completeness:

CREATE TABLE places(usps char(2) NOT NULL,
    fips char(2) NOT NULL, 
    fips_code char(5),
    loc_name varchar(64));

Now the data file I’ve taken here:

This article is about versions 2.x of pgloader, which are not supported anymore. Consider using pgloader version 3.x instead. Alos the following example is still available in the 3.x series and you can see the command file at the GitHub repository for pgloader:

Then we translate the file description into pgloader setup:

host = localhost
port = 5432
base = pgloader
user = dim
pass = None

log_file            = /tmp/pgloader.log
log_min_messages    = DEBUG
client_min_messages = WARNING

client_encoding = 'latin1'
lc_messages         = C
pg_option_standard_conforming_strings = on

table           = places
format          = fixed
filename        = places2k.txt
columns         = *
fixed_specs     = usps:0:2, fips:2:2, fips_code:4:5, loc_name:9:64, p:73:9, h:82:9, land:91:14, water:105:14, ldm:119:14, wtm:131:14, lat:143:10, long:153:11

We’re ready to import the data now:

dim ~/PostgreSQL/examples pgloader -vsTc pgloader.conf 
pgloader     INFO     Logger initialized
pgloader     WARNING  path entry '/usr/share/python-support/pgloader/reformat' does not exists, ignored
pgloader     INFO     Reformat path is []
pgloader     INFO     Will consider following sections:
pgloader     INFO       fixed
pgloader     INFO     Will load 1 section at a time
fixed        INFO     columns = *, got [('usps', 1), ('fips', 2), ('fips_code', 3), ('loc_name', 4)]
fixed        INFO     Loading threads: 1
fixed        INFO     closing current database connection
fixed        INFO     fixed processing
fixed        INFO     TRUNCATE TABLE places;
pgloader     INFO     All threads are started, wait for them to terminate
fixed        INFO     COPY 1: 10000 rows copied in 5.769s
fixed        INFO     COPY 2: 10000 rows copied in 5.904s
fixed        INFO     COPY 3: 5375 rows copied in 3.187s
fixed        INFO     No data were rejected
fixed        INFO      25375 rows copied in 3 commits took 14.907 seconds
fixed        INFO     No database error occured
fixed        INFO     closing current database connection
fixed        INFO     releasing fixed semaphore
fixed        INFO     Announce it's over

Table name        |    duration |    size |  copy rows |     errors 
fixed             |     14.901s |       - |      25375 |          0

Note the -T option is for TRUNCATE, which you only need when you want to redo the loading, I’ve come to always mention it in interactive usage. The -v option is for some more verbosity and the -s for the summary at end of operations.

With the pgloader.conf and places2k.txt in the current directory, and an empty table, just typing in pgloader at the prompt would have done the job.

Oh, the pg_option_standard_conforming_strings bit is from the git HEAD, the current released version has no support for setting any PostgreSQL knob yet. Still, it’s not necessary here, so you can forget about it.

You will also notice that pgloader didn’t trim the data for you, which ain’t funny for the places column. That’s a drawback of the fixed width format that you can work on two ways here, either by means of

UPDATE places SET loc_name = trim(loc_name);

or a custom reformat module for pgloader. I guess the latter solution is overkill, but it allows for pipe style processing of the data and a single database write.

Send me a mail if you want me to show here how to setup such a reformatting module in a next blog entry!