Many of the data manipulation and conversion programs around are not tuned to the specific needs of library and bibliographic data. Very few
can handle MARC records.
Data Magician is authored by Lawrence Folland a Canadian who has long experience in the field of bibliographic file manipulation and the program has excellent MARC record features as a result.
Once you have become familiar with the
DOS interface, DM does a very efficient job in an unfussy way.
The powerful processing codes make very complex tasks possible which you might otherwise need an expensive programmer to achieve. The ability to handle MARC records is a of course a must for this sort of software in a library environment and DM does this without any problems.
Cost $195 Canadian from Folland
Software Services Inc.
The aims of DM are clear enough - to provide a tool for the manipulation of data files from one format to another - the sort of thing that a
major vendor will do as part of conversion from one system to another. But often, you may have some odd files around in one format or another and want to load them into
another system. Data magician is an ideal tool for this job - it requires no programming skills - although familiarity with file structures and handling data will be very useful.
The manual is very clear and comprehensive with numerous examples explained. Installation is easy and DM provides a set of
pre-defined "settings" files which handle a set of 18 common conversions - including DOBIS and Geac Marc records to standard USMARC.
The user interface is the once familiar DOS style of hierarchical menus and actions
selected by moving through options and selecting via the enter key. It is remarkable how old fashioned this appears now - but for this sort of application, it is no real hindrance.
The procedure for using DM is basically two steps - creating a conversion specification
and then running the program against an input file. Creating the specification logically requires you to create a spec for the input file i.e. tell DM how the incoming data is laid
out and also an output spec to say how the data should be formatted for the output file.
There are 8 basic input file types covering ASCII delimted, dbase, MARC, Tagged files
INMAGIC, etc (see full list). There are options to set repeatable field formats and end of record characters etc. You can also set Global field processing codes which can, for
example, trim off unwanted characters like line numbers before the start of data proper. These sort of features allow DM to be used for transcripts of on-line sessions where you
may need to inspect lines for remote system prompts etc.
Depending on the type of file being processed, so there will be different options in
specifying the input file format. MARC records can be described tag by tag e.g. 245 = Title and any local tags can be defined as required. Leader information codes (status,
encoding level etc.) are predefined with simple so that there is no need to delve into character positions for this data.