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  1. #1
    Full Member
    Join Date
    December 12th, 2006
    Question Understanding Datafeed Formats and Most Common
    Thought this might be a useful thread to create, both for myself and for future affiliates who browse the forum. Lately I have been diving into the whole datafeed side of affiliate marketing and in doing so Im trying to understand a few things

    1. What are the most common datafeed formats given out by merchants in order i.e ( using cjs selection for an example )

    Quoted CSV
    Standard CSV

    Would you say that PIPE is the most common, followed by and then the rest in that order? And am I missing any other ones?

    2. Anyone care to share the advantages or disadvantages of either of those formats?

    3. Why would you select PIPE over Tab or Quoted CSV over say XML?

    4. Part that confused me is, if I select PIPE or TAB am I not ending up with a CSV file anyway? like Pipe doesnt have its on file extension does it? like filename.pipe it usually is filename.csv right??

    5. What is your preferred choice and why?

    thanks girls and guys...

  2. #2
    Full Member
    Join Date
    November 21st, 2010
    CSV stands for 'Comma Separated Values' so technically speaking, only a CSV file can be .CSV but when it comes right down to it, unless you're trying to help Excel ID a file format, a text file is a text file is a text file and the extension is completely aesthetic.

    Whenever I've seen other formats such as pipe or tab, it's usually just .txt but again, it could literally be anything as it doesn't change the physical content of the file itself.

    I tend to use quoted CSV because I have a life-long familiarity with it. It's also easy to find code to work with CSV files but I suspect it's just as easy to find code to work with other delimiters. So again, doesn't really matter.

    The one crucial difference is quoted vs standard as you mention above. Take for example the US Flag. A description for it might be 'Available only in red, white and blue.' That comma can be tricky in a CSV format. If the format of the file were Product Name, Description, Price, it would look like this:

    Flag, Available only in red, white and blue, $1.00

    Strictly from a CSV perspective, that says your price is 'white and blue,' not $1.00 because it's simply looking for a comma to separate the fields.

    What's supposed to happen (at a minimum) is the data should look like:

    Flag, "Available in red, white and blue", $1.00

    So your routine to handle CSV would be smart enough to see that the information inside the quotes is all one column despite containing a comma.

    I suspect the attraction to pipe and tab delimited formats are that those characters are far likely to appear in actual data and cause potential issues, although tab would be harder to manipulate since it's a non-printable character.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 17th, 2005
    Tropical Mountaintop
    A person's preference for delimiter is probably related to the different tools and scripts that they use. Whatever causes you less problems when there is a choice.

    SAS datafeeds are all in pipe delimited format and download as a .txt file in .zip compressed format. Usually the networks attempt to standardize the fields, but that doesn't mean they are all done as they should be. Very seldom have I seen a feed that fits the standard more than 60%.

  4. #4
    Full Member iolaire's Avatar
    Join Date
    October 3rd, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by easylife View Post
    4. Part that confused me is, if I select PIPE or TAB am I not ending up with a CSV file anyway? like Pipe doesnt have its on file extension does it? like filename.pipe it usually is filename.csv right??
    These all relate to the delimiter between columns, they are different
    TAB= a tab character

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