Milo Land

Tablatal Parser - Plaintext Database to JSON (Python)

Check out the up-to-date version on GitHub

I'm rethinking my Track and Tod apps for tracking my tasks, mood, and other data after checking out Josh Avanier's Log, V's Log, Devine Lu Linvega's Horaire and others. I am determined to keep my log plaintext and was not satisfied with options like CSV or TSV, as they look terrible when reading in a plain text editor. I eventually found Devine's Tablatal and am looking forward to using it with my system.

Josh Avanier's Log

V's Log

Devine Lu Linvega's Horaire

Devine's Tablatal

From Devine's site: "In the Tablatal file, the first line declares the key, the spacing between each key defines the length of the parameters for all subsequent lines." It is a much more aesthetically pleasing plaintext data format, though the tradeoff is malleability, as you must define how large the field sizes are before getting going (I'll solve this with some kind of utility if it ever comes up as a problem).

There is both a to- and from-Tablatal utility. Both use a list of dicts as their starting point, but can also be used directly in the CLI to interface with JSON files.


Examples can be found at neauoire's page.


As a CLI, the parser takes in a plaintext Tablatal file (`tbtl`) and returns a `JSON` file. There is one optional argument `--headers`, which you can supply a set of custom headers separated by commas for the parser to use when outputting. For instance, if the beginning of your file including your headers looks like this:

; The horaire is a collection of logs.
;     CODE HOST                 PIC NAME
;     7    12                   33  37
20X09 +300 talk                     Talk at Speakers Series, SNSYC
20X07 +300 talk                     Grundlagen der digitalen Kommunikation
20V08 -332 orca

The header line is started by a semicolon, which would obfuscate the parser from giving it a useful name. This can be remedied via the CLI:

python3 input.tbtl output.json --headers "DATE, CODE, HOST, PIC, NAME"

The JSON-to-Tablatal parser needs a little user input to determine the order of the fields, but otherwise operates the same as the other utility.