By Daniel Watkeys
One of the constant issues we deal with when customers contact us is problems with their reference data. This blog is the first in a short series on understanding the data you’ve been given and what you need to do to work with it. We’re going to start with the ASCII or text file.
It’s a term that’s been used for years on Leica equipment but it’s meaning is not commonly understood. So, in a continuing series on reference data, we’re going to take a quick look at what it is and why the term is hanging on in there.
ASCII is an abbreviation for American Standard Code for Information Interchange and is a character encoding standard for electronic communication, and it represents text in computer equipment. Its origins stretch back to telegraph code but work on the ASCII standard began back in 1960 with the first edition of the standard publish in 1963. The standard encodes 128 characters into seven-bit integers, of those 128 characters, 95 are printable.
Fascinating isn’t it?
What that means however is that with the established ASCII standard we can communicate information to a computer interface with a fairly simple text file. For example, a series of coordinates separated with a comma. As surveyors we can create a simple text file using notepad or Excel and feed the information into our instrument without having to spend hours typing them into the instrument directly.
There are some things to be wary of though. Your instrument needs to know the format of the text you're sending into it. For example, it’s pretty standard to use a comma to separate the different values we’re using, but it’s not the only option. You can use a tab, a semicolon or even a space. The instrument is expecting a particular format and if it doesn’t get it, your data isn’t going in.
Next time we’ll look at the DXF file and how it’s come to be a standard for reference data.
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