Export and Import Technical Notes

This is a brief review of some ideas related to import and export. For detailed documentation on the content of a Vespa import/export file, see the documentation for VIFF (Vespa Interchange File Format).

Export and Import Concepts

  • Import is never destructive. It never overwrites anything in your existing database. If it changes your database at all, it does so by adding to what's already there.

  • Conflicts can arise between the names of existing objects and imported objects. When a conflict arises, import creates a unique name for the imported object. The current algorithm adds a timestamp to the name, and if that's still not unique it adds digits until a unique name is found.

  • You can import individual metabolites and pulse sequences from an experiment export file.

Paths Not Taken

  • Selective imports. When the import code reads a file, it assumes that every object it finds in the XML file that's not already in the database should be added. The logic is simple.

It might be nicer for the user if the import code examined the import file and showed the user a list of importable objects (along with, perhaps, a list of objects in the import file that already exist in the database). Naturally, the import dialog would give the user the opportunity to select which items he wants to import.

There's nothing wrong or even complicated about this approach, it's just another dialog and more to design, write, debug, document and maintain.

  • Cancelling imports. Another thing that a more sophisticated import GUI could do is offer the opportunity to cancel an in-progress import.
  • Combining exports. At present, export creates new or overwrites its target file. It doesn't offer the option to append to an existing file. Furhtermore, export only exports one kind of object at a time (ignoring for the moment the fact that exporting experiments implies an export of metabs and pulse sequences too).

There's no way, for instance, to export metabs and pulse sequences to the same file. Nor is there a way to export one's entire database to a single file (unless one would be satisified with only exporting in-use metabs and pulse sequences in which case exporting all experiments would be sufficient).

There's no strong reason for this limitation, I just never wrote the code or designed the GUI to support combining export files.

Last modified 8 years ago Last modified on May 2, 2011, 1:38:54 PM