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Flat File Schemas

DataWeave can process several different types of data. For most of these types, you can import a schema that describes the input structure in order to have access to valuable metadata at design time. Before you begin, note that DataWeave 2.0 is for Mule 4 apps. For a Mule 3 app, refer to the DataWeave 1.0 documentation set in the Mule 3.9 documentation. For other Mule versions, you can use the version selector for the Mule Runtime table of contents.

DataWeave uses a YAML format called FFD (for Flat File Definition) to represent flat file schemas. The FFD format is flexible enough to support a range of use cases, but is based around the concepts of elements, composites, segments, groups, and structures.

Schemas must be written in Flat File Schema Language, and by convention use a .ffs extension. This language is very similar to EDI Schema Language (ESL), which is also accepted by Anypoint Studio.

In DataWeave, you can bind your input or output to a flat file schema through a property.

Note that if you intend to use a simple fixed-width format, you can set up your data type directly through the Transform component using the Fixed Width type. Creating an instance of this type in Studio will automatically generate a matching schema definition.

Types of Components in a Schema

Here are the different types of components that make up a flat file schema, going from the most elementary to the more complex. Elements and Segments are always required, while Composites, Groups, and Structures might be needed depending on the top-level structure of your document.

  • Element - An element is a basic data item, which has an associated type and fixed width, along with formatting options for how the data value is read and written.

  • Composite - (Optional) A group of elements. It can also include other child composites.

  • Segment - A line of data, or record, made up of any number of elements and/or composites that might be repeated.

  • Group - (Optional) Several segments grouped together. It can also include other child groups.

  • Structure - A hierarchical organization of segments, which requires that the segments have unique identifier codes as part of their data.

Top-level structure of an FFD Document

The top-level definition in an FFD document starts with the form of the schema. In this case it must always be "FLATFILE", "COPYBOOK", or "FIXEDWIDTH". The differences between these forms are minor and mostly relate to how they are handled in Studio. The rest depends on the form of definitions present in the file, with the following alternatives:

  • Single segment - Segment information directly at the top level (including a values key giving the element and/or composite details of the segment).

  • Multiple segments - A segments key with multiple child objects, each defining one segment.

  • Multiple structures - A structures key with multiple child objects, each defining one structure.

Single Segment

If you are only working with one type of record, you only need to have a segment definition for that record type in your FFD.

dataweave flat file schemas 22788

This is a simple schema with only one segment:

form: FLATFILE
id: 'RQH'
tag: '1'
name: Request Header Record
values:
- { name: 'Organization Code', type: String, length: 10 }
- { name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
- { name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }

The example above simply defines a list of elements within a single segment. It has no composites to group them into.

Here is another example:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
name: my-flat-file
values:
- { name: 'Row-id', type: String, length: 2 }
- { name: 'Total', type: Decimal, length: 11 }
- { name: 'Module', type: String, length: 8 }
- { name: 'Cost', type: Decimal, length: 8, format: { implicit: 2 } }
- { name: 'Program-id', type: String, length: 8 }
- { name: 'user-id', type: String, length: 8 }
- { name: 'return-sign', type: String, length: 1' }

Note that simplified forms are only for convenience. You can use the segments key even if you only have a single child segment definition.

Multiple Segments

If you are working with multiple types of records in the same transformation, you need to use a structure definition that controls how these different records are combined.

dataweave flat file schemas 680c6

In most cases, you need to define a way to distinguish between the different types of records. You do this by identifying tagValue fields as part of the record definitions. The parser will check the content of the fields of each record to identify the record type, then see how it fits into the defined structure.

This is an example of a complete structure schema with several component record types:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - groupId: 'Batch'
    count: '>1'
    items:
    - { idRef: 'BCH' }
    - { idRef: 'TDR', count: '>1' }
    - { idRef: 'BCF' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  ...

Note that this example is not complete. It needs to define each of the referenced segments at the end. See Referenced versus Inlined Definitions to understand how these segments are being referenced in this example.

Multiple Structures

If you have multiple structures or segment definitions in an FFD, when you apply your schema to an metadata description on a Transform component, you need to specify which one you want to use.

dataweave flat file schemas 4e1eb

A top-level structure of a schema with multiple structures might look like this:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - groupId: 'Batch'
    usage: O
    count: '>1'
    items:
    - { idRef: 'BCH' }
    - { idRef: 'TDR', count: '>1' }
    - { idRef: 'BCF' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
- id: 'BatchRsp'
  name: Batch Response
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RSH' }
  - groupId: 'Batch'
    usage: O
    count: '>1'
    items:
    - { idRef: 'BCH' }
    - { idRef: 'TDR', count: '>1' }
    - { idRef: 'BCF' }
  - { idRef: 'RSF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  ...

The example defines two different structures, the BatchReq structure and the BatchRsp structure. Each of these structures uses a particular sequence of segments and groups of segments. The group Batch is repeated in both structures. A Batch group is composed of a single BCH line, multiple TDR lines, and a single BCF line.

Note that this example is not complete. It needs to define each of the referenced segments at the end. See Referenced versus Inlined Definitions to understand how these segments are referenced in this example.

Element Definitions

Element definitions are the basic building blocks of application data, consisting of basic key-value pairs for standard characteristics. Flat file schemas generally use inline element definitions, where each element is defined at the point it is used within a segment or composite structure, but you can also define elements separately and reference them as needed. Here are several element definitions defined for use by reference:

  - { id: 'OrgCode', name: 'Organization Code', type: String, length: 10 }
  - { id: 'CreatDate', name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
  - { id: 'CreatTime', name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }
  - { id: 'BatchTransCount', name: 'Batch Transaction Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { id: 'BatchTransAmount', name: 'Batch Transaction Amount', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 10 }

The supplied id value is used as the idRef value when referencing one of these definitions as part of a segment or composite. Note that if you are defining elements inline within a segment definition (as opposed to defining them at the end of the document and referencing them), the id field is not required.

Element definitions might have the following attributes, classified by Form as applying to inline definitions, referenced definitions (as in the above example), or references to definitions:

Table 1. Attributes
Name Description Form

count

Number of occurrences (optional, default is 1)

Inline or reference

id

Element identifier

Referenced definition

idRef

Element identifier

Reference

name

Element name (optional)

All

type

Value type code, as listed below

Inline, or referenced definition

format

Type-specific formatting information

Inline, or referenced definition

length

Number of character positions for value

Inline, or referenced definition

tagValue

Value for this element used to identify a segment (see the Full Schema Example)

Inline, or referenced definition

The allowed types for defining an element are:

Table 2. Types
Name Description

Binary

Binary value (COBOL format, 2, 4, or 8 bytes)

Boolean

Boolean value

Date

Unzoned date value with year, month, and day components (which might not all be shown in text form)

DateTime

Unzoned date/time value with year, month, day, hour, minute, second, and millisecond components (which might not all be shown in text form)

Decimal

Decimal number value, which might or might not include an explicit decimal point in text form

Integer

Integer number value

Packed

Packed decimal representation of a decimal number value (COBOL format)

String

String value

Time

Unzoned time value with hour, minute, second, and millisecond components (which might not all be shown in text form)

Zoned

Zoned decimal (COBOL format)

Value types support a range of format options that affect the text form of the values. These are the main options, along with the types to which they apply:

Table 3. Format Options
Key Description Applies to

digits

Number of digits allowed

Binary

implicit

Implicit number of decimal digits (used for fixed-point values with no decimal in text form)

Binary, Decimal, Packed, Zoned

justify

Justification in field (LEFT, RIGHT, NONE, or ZEROES, the last only for numbers)

All except Binary and Packed

pattern

For numeric values, the java.text.DecimalFormat pattern for parsing and writing. For date/time values, the java.time.format.DateTimeFormatter pattern.

Date, DateTime, Decimal, Integer, Time

sign

Sign usage for numeric values (UNSIGNED, NEGATIVE_ONLY, OPTIONAL, ALWAYS_LEFT, ALWAYS_RIGHT)

Decimal, Integer, Zoned

signed

Signed versus unsigned flag

Binary, Packed

Composite Definitions

Composites serve to reference a list of elements that are typically presented together. For example, firstName and lastName can be bundled together into a single composite because they are likely to be referred to as a group. Grouping elements into a composite also allows the list to be repeated.

Composite definitions are very similar to segment definitions, composed of some key-value pairs for standard characteristics along with lists of values. Composites might include both references to elements or other nested composites and inlined definitions. This is a example of a composite definition:

- id: 'DateTime'
  name: 'Date/Time pair'
  values:
   - { name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
   - { name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }

Composite definitions might have the following attributes:

Name Description Form

controlVal

Value from containing level giving actual number of occurrences (only used with count != 1)

Inline definition, or on reference

count

Number (or maximum number, if controlVal is used) of occurrences (optional, default is 1)

Inline definition, or on reference

id

Composite identifier for references

Referenced definition

name

Composite name (optional)

Inline or referenced definition

values

List of elements and composites within the composite

Inline or referenced definition

The values list takes the same form as the values list in a segment definition.

Segment Definitions

A segment describes a type of record in your data. Segments are mainly composed of references or direct definitions of elements and composites, together with some key-value pairs that describe the segment. In a somewhat complex schema, you might have a structure that contains two different segments, where one of these describes the fields that go in the single header of a bill of materials (such as date and person), while the other segment describes the recurring fields that go into each of the actual items in the bill of materials.

This is a sample segment definition that includes one simple element and a composite with two elements within:

- id: 'RQH'
  name: Request Header Record
  values:
   - { name: 'Organization Code', type: String, length: 10 }
   - id: 'DateTime'
     name: 'Date/Time pair'
     values:
      - { name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
      - { name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }

Segment definitions might include the following attributes:

Section Description

id

Segment identifier (unused for inline definitions, required for referenced definitions)

name

Segment name (optional)

values

List of elements and composites within the segment (either inlined, or references)

Structure Definitions

Structure definitions are composed of a list of references to segments and group definitions, as well as a set of key-value pairs for standard characteristics. Segments may be further organized into groups consisting of a potentially repeated sequence of segments.

Here’s a sample structure definition again:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - groupId: 'Batch'
    count: '>1'
    items:
    - { idRef: 'BCH' }
    - { idRef: 'TDR', count: '>1' }
    - { idRef: 'BCF' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  ...

This example includes references to two segments at the top level (RQH and RQF), as well as a group definition Batch that includes references to other segments (BCH, TDR and BCF). Note that for this structure to work, each of the referenced segments needs to be defined. See Referenced versus Inlined Definitions to understand how segments are referenced in this example.

A structure definition can contain the following attributes:

Structure Key/Section Description

id

Structure identifier

name

Structure name (optional)

data

List of segments (and groups) in the structure

Each item in a segment list is either a segment reference (or inline definition) or a group definition (always inline).

Group Definitions

A group definition can have the following attributes:

Value Description

groupId

The group identifier

usage

Usage code, which might be M for Mandatory, O for Optional, or U for Unused (optional, defaults to M)

count

Maximum repetition count value, which might be a number or the special value >1, meaning any number of repeats (optional, count value of 1 is used if not specified)

items

List of segments (and potentially nested groups) making up the group

Referenced Versus Inlined Definitions

Besides the choice of top-level form, you also have choices when it comes to representing the components of a structure, segment, or composite. You can define the component segments, composites, and elements inline at the point of use, or you can define them in a table and reference them from anywhere. Inlining definitions is simpler and more compact, but the table form allows definitions to be reused. Table form examples must include an id value, and each reference to that definition uses an idRef. This example shows how this applies to the segments making up a structure:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  name: "Request File Header Record"
  values:
  - { idref: createDate }
  - { idref: createTime }
  - { idref: fileId }
  - { idref: currency }
- id: 'RQF'
  name: "Request File Footer Record"
  values:
  - { idref: batchCount }
  - { idref: transactionCount }
  - { idref: transactionAmount }
  - { idref: debitCredit }
  - { idref: fileId }
elements:
  - { id: createDate, type: Date, length: 8 }
  - { id: createTime, type: Time, length: 4 }
  - { id: fileId, type: String, length: 10 }
  - { id: currency, type: String, length: 3 }
  - { id: batchCount, type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 4 }
  - { id: transactionCount, type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { id: transactionAmount, type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 12 }
  - { id: debitCredit, type: String, length: 2 }

In the above example, the BatchReq structure references segments in the data definition section. The segments are each then defined in the segments section at the top level of the schema, and these in turn reference elements that are later defined in the elements section.

An inlined definition of the same structure looks like this:

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  name: "Request File Header Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
  - { name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }
  - { name: 'Unique File Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }
  - { name: 'Currency', type: String, length: 3 }
- id: 'RQF'
  name: "Request File Footer Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'File Batch Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 4 }
  - { name: 'File Transaction Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'File Transaction Amount', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 12 }
  - { name: 'Type', type: String, length: 2 }
  - { name: 'Unique File Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }

Full Example Schema

form: FIXEDWIDTH
structures:
- id: 'BatchReq'
  name: Batch Request
  data:
  - { idRef: 'RQH' }
  - groupId: 'Batch'
    count: '>1'
    items:
    - { idRef: 'BCH' }
    - { idRef: 'TDR', count: '>1' }
    - { idRef: 'BCF' }
  - { idRef: 'RQF' }
segments:
- id: 'RQH'
  name: "Request File Header Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'Record Type', type: String, length: 3, tagValue: 'RQH' }
  - { name: 'File Creation Date', type: Date, length: 8 }
  - { name: 'File Creation Time', type: Time, length: 4 }
  - { name: 'Unique File Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }
  - { name: 'Currency', type: String, length: 3 }
- id: 'BCH'
  name: "Batch Header Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'Record Type', type: String, length: 3, tagValue: 'BAT' }
  - { name: 'Sequence Number', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'Batch Function', type: String, length: 1, tagValue: 'H' }
  - { name: 'Company Name', type: String, length: 30 }
  - { name: 'Unique Batch Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }
- id: 'TDR'
  name: "Transaction Detail Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'Record Type', type: String, length: 3, tagValue: 'BAT' }
  - { name: 'Sequence Number', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'Batch Function', type: String, length: 1, tagValue: 'D' }
  - { name: 'Account Number', type: String, length: 10 }
  - { name: 'Amount', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 10 }
  - { name: 'Type', type: String, length: 2 }
- id: 'BCF'
  name: "Batch Footer Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'Record Type', type: String, length: 3, tagValue: 'BAT' }
  - { name: 'Sequence Number', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'Batch Function', type: String, length: 1, tagValue: 'T' }
  - { name: 'Batch Transaction Amount', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 10 }
  - { name: 'Type', type: String, length: 2 }
  - { name: 'Batch Transaction Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'Unique Batch Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }
- id: 'RQF'
  name: "Request File Footer Record"
  values:
  - { name: 'Record Type', type: String, length: 3, tagValue: 'RQF' }
  - { name: 'File Batch Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 4 }
  - { name: 'File Transaction Count', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 6 }
  - { name: 'File Transaction Amount', type: Integer, format: { justify: zeroes }, length: 12 }
  - { name: 'Type', type: String, length: 2 }
  - { name: 'Unique File Identifier', type: String, length: 10 }

This example contains a single structure named 'BatchReq' with 5 components segments, using a doubly-nested structure of file and batch data for the segments. Each batch contains repeating detail records. All element definitions are in-lined.

The BatchReq structure definition requires that the data will consist of:

  • A single record that corresponds to the segment RQH

  • One or more records that correspond to the segment BCH

  • For each BCH record, one or more TDR records giving details of a particular transaction

  • For each BCH record, a BCF record following any contained TDR records

  • A final, single record that corresponds to the segment RQF

For this example every record starts with a three-character Record Type field with a specified tagValue. In the case of the batch records, the record type is further specified by a Batch Function tagValue.

This is a sample of data matching the schema example:

RQH201809011010A000000001USD
BAT000001HACME RESEARCH                 A000000001
BAT000002D01234567890000032876CR
BAT000003D01234567880000087326CR
BAT000004T0000120202CR000002A000000001
BAT000005HAJAX EXPLOSIVES               A000000002
BAT000006D12345678900000003582DB
BAT000007D12345678910000000256CR
BAT000008T0000003326DB000002A000000002
RQF0002000008000000116876CRA000000001

The lines in the example match the defined structure as listed below:

  • 1 RQH (Request File Header Record) identified by the "RQH" value in the first three characters

  • 2 BCH (Batch Header Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'H' character in position 10

  • 3-4 TDR (Transaction Detail Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'D' character in position 10

  • 5 BCF (Batch Footer Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'T' character in position 10

  • 6 BCH (Batch Header Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'H' character in position 10

  • 7-8 TDR (Transaction Detail Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'D' character in position 10

  • 9 BCF (Batch Footer Record) identified by the "BAT" value in the first three characters combined with the 'T' character in position 10

  • 10 RQF (Request File Footer Record) identified by the "RQF" value in the first three characters

tagValue fields provide a lot of flexibility. The above example shows using a single tagValue for some record types, while adding a second tagValue for others, but you can also use completely different fields (or even disjoint sets of fields) for a tagValue, as long as you provide enough details for the parser to distinguish between the different types of records.

Note that older versions of the documentation showed a different way of distinguishing records based on tag values, using tagStart and tagLength values for the structure and tag values for the segments. This method of distinguishing segments is much more limited than the tagValue approach, and is now deprecated.

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