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: :  PCS Data Transfer

Porcupine Computers is available to work with any office in the creation of user specific transfer routines.

In any transfer routine we would need specifics on the below mentioned criteria.


The easiest way we have found for data sharing between differing types of systems is either through Dbase type files or through ASCII text files (either delimited or of fixed record lengths).

A DELIMITED file is an ASCII text file in which each record ends with a carriage return and line feed. Fields are normally separated by commas, and character fields are additionally delimited by double quotation marks. However, other types of delimiting characters can be used for field separation.

A fixed record length ASCII text file is a file in which all the records have a fixed (the same) length and end with a carriage return and line feed.

If the other system has data in a DBF (Dbase) format, it is most likely directly transferable to the Porcupine System.

Porcupine Computers will accept data of the above format and re-arrange it appropriately to fit within our data structures. Conversely we will re-arrange data that is to be forwarded out, into fields appropriate to the receiving agency.

We have successfully transferred data both with disks and with modem linkups. We have also successfully both uploaded and downloaded via a tape transfer.

In some cases, it may be necessary to use specialized type of downloading software and hardware. (eg. when downloading from a System/X or AS/400 or IBM 9000 mainframe).

In some cases we must translate EBCDIC data into an ASCII format.

We have successfully implemented transfers with the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) standard and the EDI X.12 (Electronic Data Interchange) standard environment.

Certain systems that are written in BASIC can only create an ASCII text file by writing a program to create it.

If you need more specific information, please let us know.


There are several components involved in the transfer of data.

1) There is how will you transfer the data:
  • 5 1/4 inch floppy disk
  • 3 1/2 inch floppy disk
  • Cartridge Tape
  • Direct Modem communication
  • Internet (Email) transfer
2) You must determine the format of this transferred information:
  • Dbase type of format
  • Delimited ASCII Text File
  • Fixed Record Length ASCII Text File
  • EBCDIC format
  • Other
3) You must determine what information will be sent:
  • Debtor information
  • Comments, memos associated with the debtor
  • Transaction (Payments) Information
  • Other
4) You must determine the layout of the transferred information:
  • One file or Several files
  • Number of places after the decimal
  • Spacing involved in field sizes
  • Date format
  • Joining or splitting of specific fields
  • Other
5) You must determine defaults necessary for completion of transfer:
  • Defaults
  • Scheduling
  • Duplicate prevention
  • Multiple flagging
  • Other


Media Used:
5 1/4 and 3 1/2 inch are standard floppy disk sizes when referring to micro-computers. If data is to be transfer via these floppies then one other consideration is the density in which information is stored on the floppy. Floppy disk drives that are capable of reading high density disks, will have no problem reading a lower density disk. However, a low-density disk drive will not be able to read a high-density disk. Some mini computers are still using the 8 inch floppy which would of course be difficult to fit into a 5 1/4 inch drive.

Cartridge tapes can range in both physical size and density of data storage. Specifics of storage parameters would be office specific. Some mini computers are still using the reel to reel type of tape.

Modem to modem communication is of course the most convenient. Depending on the amount of data it is potentially the most expensive form of data transfer. Obviously, both machines involved in this type of transfer will need compatible modems and in some cases specialized communication software will be necessary as well. Unix itself has built in communication facilities that allow fairly easy portability of information with any other Unix based machine.

Internet or Email transfers are becoming more common. Offices using the Internet are securing their data transfers with encryption software.

A Dbase format refers to the structure of data files that follow the Dbase III+, Dbase IV and FoxBASE+ standard. This format allows basically a direct data file transfer.

ASCII Text files come in basically 2 useful formats. One is the Delimited File and the other is the Fixed Record length file. ASCII files are based on a portable standard which allow data transfer between differing machines and differing software.

EBCDIC format is an IBM Standard used in a number of mini and mainframe computers. Although there is a EBCDIC Conversion routine built into the XENIX/Unix operating system, there are a number of actual conversion tables depending on the version of EBCDIC used. There are several conversion programs and boards available for data translation between machines like the System 34's, 36's, 38's and AS/400 and micro computers.

In older versions of BASIC which have no direct translation routines, output which was normally sent to a printer was redirect to a file along with appropriate delimiting codes to create a delimited ASCII text file.

Obviously, in the Collection Industry there will be standard items of information that every office will find necessary. But, there may be cases where details of differing nature, are available for transfer but are not wanted by the receiving office.

Additionally the transfer may only be for debtor information or it may include associated comments (memos).

Part of the ongoing transfer routine may include the recording of transactions associated with the debts.

Layout, of course, of the information will differ between offices that are not on the same system. The very structure of the files involved, to the order that a date in displayed (mm/dd/yy as opposed to yy/mm/dd) will required specific conversion routines to facilitate transfer. These routines can be created either by the sending office or the receiving office or a combination of both. What is necessary to know are the field names (what information they're expected to store), the field types and the field lengths. Another example of data manipulation is splitting or joining of information as in debtor names or debtor addresses. If a debtor name that has first and last names stored together is being transferred to an office with separate fields for each then the name must be separated. There could be different sizes involved in the fields containing the address of a debtor that requires data manipulation of some sort. The type of data manipulation depends on the structures of the two different data files.

When a new debt is being setup there will be default particulars required by the receiving office that has nothing to do with the actual transfer. This can include such things as assignment of the account, flagging of notice, scheduling of the debt for working, etc.

Certain conditions, such as duplicate debts, can be tested for by the sending or receiving office.

Additionally, if there are already existing debts at the receiving office for the debtor being transfer then any facility for flagging this potential "multiple" is the responsibility of the receiving office.
  © Porcupine Computer Systems, 1999-2008