FreeBMDFreeBMD The "Flat" File Format

The "Flat" file format is designed to cater for datasets stored in a database or spreadsheet with all data for each entry on a single line (hence the name "flat").

Data submitted in this format is first translated into the standard format, a fact which shouldn't affect you, but seems worth mentioning anyway.

The essence of the flat format is that, so long as all required data is available, it can be submitted in almost any layout. A line at the top of the file defines what goes where.

Note that the format exported by packages such as Excel and Access, known as CSV, is supported by FreeBMD, even though we don't document it explicitly here - quotes are allowed around fields.

Example of Flat File Format

This example is taken from sample data kindly provided by John Verge.

The Header

Each file must start with two lines. First is the info line, which is exactly the same as the dataset info line in the standard format. The second is the format line, described below.

Format Definition

The format line consists of +FORMAT followed by a list of column types.

Column types

Each column type may have alternate names, which are shown in brackets after the standard name.
The surname of the subject of the entry.
FirstNames (FirstName,Forename)
The first names of the subject of the entry.
OtherName optional
If present, this is appended to the firstnames field.
The district in which the event was registered.
The volume number in which the event appears.
The page number of the event.
The date (month) registered. Ignored before 1984
The quarter of the entry (i.e. Mar, Jun, Sep or Dec). You can use QuarterNumber instead. Ignored from 1984
The number of the quarter of the entry (in the range 1-4, 1 is Mar and so on). You can use Quarter instead. Ignored from 1984
The year of the entry.
Type (Event) optional
The event type - one of: N.B. Event types cannot be mixed in a single file. This field is therefore only useful as a crosscheck.

Additional Optional Columns

AgeAtDeath optional
The age at death (death events only, of course).
DateOfBirth optional
The date of birth (death events only, replaces AgeAtDeath from 1969).
Mother optional
Mother's (maiden) name (birth events only).
Spouse optional
Spouse's surname (marriage events only).
FicheRange optional
The range of surnames covered by the fiche this entry was on.
FicheNumber optional
The number of the fiche this entry was on.

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