People Keep ASCIIng Me About These Characters

Dan Konkler, Rebecca Bowermaster, Stephanie Sanchez
Roche Molecular Solutions


Every programmer has run into an issue at least once that was caused by the presence of a control character or extended ASCII character in their dataset. You get extra records in your dataset because there’s a line feed character within a CSV field. Your Excel output has “unreadable content” because your data contain “<, >, or &”. Something went wrong in your RTF file when your trusty escape character wound up in your dataset. Your fancy validation program that reads in the production output for programmatic comparison fails because it can’t process the extended ASCII or control characters. These issues can cause hours of lost time to searching for the problematic character. In this paper, we present two macros that can quickly identify potentially problematic characters in your dataset library and point you to the specific records and fields that need your attention.