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File Handling in Pascal


A file contains data which is saved in the hard disk. You can only view a file from the hard disk by using an

operating system. A can contain text data which is used by word processors. Many text files are saved in

the hard disk with the extensions: *.txt and *.doc. The file with extension of *.txt, means that it is created by

the Microsoft Notepad. Whenever you use the Microsoft Notepad and save a text file, this saved file is

created and written on to the hard disk. However, some programs have various formats on how to maintai

the text - such as justification, font, font colour. So many files contain more data other than text data!

The program itself uses various techniques to create a file in such a way that, when it is being read agai

it can read(using programming skills, etc..) if it is justified, its font style etc..

The program that is able to read the file of extension *.xxx, is called the viewer of that file!

Before you go on with files, please make sure that you have enough hard disk space for our experiments,

since I am going to demonstrate to save a file to the hard disk!! :) Only a few kb, however..

Read from a File (file input)

Reading a file in pascal is very easy.

Note that there are no reserved words in Pascal that are used to to read or write to a file.

We used the 'usual words': readln() and writeln(); Here's the technique of how to read a text file (only):


VarUserFile : Text;
FileName, TFile : String;
Writeln('Enter the file name '+
+'(with its full path) of the text file:');
{A .txt file will be assigned to a text variable}
Assign(UserFile, FileName + '.txt'); 
 Reset(UserFile); {'Reset(x)' - means open the file x}
Until Eof(UserFile);

I think that it is worth to take a look at various important lines of the program. A new variable of type:

'Text' is new to you, and this should be used whenever you are going to edit a text file! The variable

'FileName' is required to link to the file indicated by the user. The 'assign' statement is used to declare

'FileName' + '.txt' to a text file, so that the file could be opened, using - 'Reset()'. To read from the

first line to the very last line of the file, you should use the repeat-until loop, ending the loop with :

'Until Eof(textfile);', which means: 'Until the End Of File [eof]'

Create and Write to a File (file output)

The following program is an example of how to create-and-write or overwrite a file:

								Program Lesson_Program2;
Var FName, Txt : String[10];
    UserFile   : Text; 
 FName := 'Textfile';
 Assign(UserFile,'C:\'+FName+'.txt'); {assign a text file} 
 Rewrite(UserFile); {open the file 'fname' for writing}
 Writeln(UserFile,'PASCAL PROGRAMMING');
 Writeln(UserFile,'if you did not understand something,');
 Writeln(UserFile,'please send me an email to:');
 Writeln('Write some text to the file:');
 Writeln(UserFile,'The user entered this text:');

In the above program, I am using the 'writeln()' statement so that I write to the file I have previously

assigned to. Note that, since I am using writeln(), there isno output to the screen, it goes to the file

I initialised.To check exactly what has just been written to this file, go to C:\, and see if there is

a file named:Textfile.txt. Open it and see what does it contain!! :-).

If you had problems, or if you did not have a way out, then in the start menu go to:

start -> find -> files or folders => look in drive C: and enter 'textfile.txt' in the text box; double click on it.

Append text to an existing File

Writing to an existing file, means, open a file and add extra data, but not overwrite the file.

Some beginner programmers do not actually understand how to, not overwrite a file with data they would like to input.

This is the common problem:

								Var UFile : Text;
 Writeln(UFile,'How many sentences, '+
              +'are present in this file?');

Copy the program above in a text file editor and save it in the turbo pascal binfolder as 'example.pas'. Open Turbo Pascal, and run this program for two times or more. Close Turbo Pascal and find the file named 'addtext.txt'. Is there more than one sentence?

A new reserved word which works with files, can complete our problem.

The new reserved word is 'append(f)', where f is a variable of type text.

This can be done by simply change the 'Rewrite(UFile)' to 'append(UFile)',

and the text file is not overwritten, but appended! The above program changes to the following:

								Var UFile : Text;
 Writeln(UFile,'How many sentences, '+
              +'are present in this file?');

Run the program two times or more to see the change...

Delete Files

In Pascal, the reserved word used to delete files from the hard this is the 'Erase(f)' where f is a

variable of any data type. This means that 'f' could be both file and text variable type.

Note, that the file you are about to delete is not taken in the recycle bin, but it is directly kicked off the hard disk!!

Unlike any other file functions, the erase() function does not open the file to delete it, so you don't need to apply a 'close(...)' after erase().

Example Program:

								Var UFile : Text; { or it could be of 'file' type}
 Erase (UFile); 


The '{$I-},{$I+}' compiler directives

Compiler directives are used to adjust the compiler settings during the compilation process,

so that programmers can control their program in their preferrable way. Compiler directives are declared

using the symbols '{', '$' and '}'. Note that the braces are used for comments, but still,

'{$something}' is taken to be a directive. Instead of 'something' the programmer should replaceit by a

known directive(a letter). Now, the '{$I}' is used to tell the compiler not to take into consideration I/O

errors including file operations.

Say, for example, if a file is trying to be opened, but it does not exist, the program does not stop

from executing and halts with a runtime error, saying: 'File not found' or whatever boring error!

Make sense? So, if you apply this compiler directive before you open the file, either for writing or reading,

I/O errors will not cause the program to raise a runtime error forced halt.

Now, I must teach you how to use this compiler directive by letting you know where to put it

and how to cater with the error that might occur. It must be placed where you are going to open or

delete a file. ie.:

action on file...
{$I+}  { enable the i/o error check again }

It is important to enable again the i/o error check, after you have disabled it, so that any unknown

future errors would be automatically encountered. However, if you think that it would be better to

disable i/o error checking for the entire program, you can! Just apply the directive at the beginning

and that's it but it is not recommended since during the runtime of your program you will not be notfied

of IO errors that might occur!! After you control a file action, you must check whether an error has occured

or not by using the system function 'IOResult', which returns IO error information. This is a typical

traditional exception handling. You should test for errors using the statement:

If (IOResult <> 0) then ...

The IOResult function should be explicitly used after an IO error check so that it will automatically

clear the error flag of the system otherwise, the IO error cause a 'mutation' to other IO processes

resulting into a runtime error. You are not required to grasp each word perfectly from what I said.

The most important thing is that you include that statement if the IO directives are to be used and

everything would be fine. Now I should show you how to use it by an example:

								Program Lesson_Program3;
Uses Crt;
Var t : Text;
s : String;

{$I-}   { disable i/o error checking }
{$I+}   { enable again i/o error checking - important }
If (IOResult <> 0) then
  Writeln('The file required to be opened is not found!');
 End Else 
  Writeln('The first line of the file reads: ',s);

If the required file is found the IOResult returns a 0 value, meaning no errors; ELSE if not found

(IOResult returns a non-0 value) display an error message!

IMPORTANT: if the file is successfuly found, the file is opened and you should close it as shown

in the program above. However, if it is not found, the common sense says that it couldn't be opened

because it is not found!?! So, you should not include a 'close(..)' after it is not opened and this is

done conditionally as shown in the example. Study carefully my program and run it several times with

good paths and non-good ones to see well the difference and how does the compiler directive works!!

Hopefully, the compiler directive could be applied to different functions, similarly as in the program above.

You can use it with 'rewrite()', 'append()', 'erase()', and also 'FSearch()'. You can try as many programs

as you wish and hopefully practicing the IO directive. I know, that this directive is somewhat complex

and hard to be understood but undoubtedly useful! I am there waiting for your e-mails,

if you think that your program does not work properly when using this directive.

Create and Remove Sub-Directories

In Pascal, there are functions with which you can either create or remove a directory from the hard disk.

To create a directoy, we use the function 'createdir(c)' where 'c' is of type PChar. Ohh, that's sound kinky...

What the heck does PChar means? Hehe, PChar is a pointer variable which holds the address of a dynamic

variable of a specified type. It is sort of a pointer for characters. Before you create the directory, however,

you have to check if the directory exists, else a runtime error shows up fiddling in front of your monitor!! 

The directory is created as follows:

					NewDir := FSearch('C:\Pascal Programming',GetEnv(''));    
 if NewDir = '' then CreateDir('C:\Pascal Programming');

From only two lines of code, we have been able to create a dir. But, before you go experimenting

on your own, you should strictly read the following documented example: (I will explain in detail the 'FSearch()' function)

									Program Lesson_Program4;
Uses WinDos, Dos;  
{ note the inclusion of the 'windos.tpu' library }

Var NewDir : PathStr; 
{ for searching the dir and create a new one, 
if it does not exist }
		   F : Text;	

 { search for the dir }
 NewDir := FSearch('C:\Pascal Programming', GetEnv('')); 
 { create a new one, if it does not exist }
 if NewDir = '' then CreateDir('C:\Pascal Programming'); 
 Assign(F,'C:\Pascal Programming\pprogramming.txt');
 {$I+} ReWrite(F); {$I-} { disable and enable back again 
                           i/o error checking } 
 { write to text file } 
 {$I+} Close(F); {$I-}

The variable type, 'PathStr', is new to you, and this is a variable defined in the 'dos.tpu' library.

So, you have to include the 'dos' library at the beginning of your program. The 'FSearch()' function

is implemented also in the windos library to search in a dir list. So, it was useful in our program and

any other program to search if the dir exists or not. It's not important to know exactly what does

'GetEnv()' mean, which is found in the second parameter of FSearch(). The Borland Turbo Pascal

reference says that its function is to return the value of the specified function.

Note that 'FSearch()' is implemented in the 'dos.tpu' library, while CreateDir()' is implemented in the

'windos.tpu' library.To remove a directory, it is quite simple. Just add 'remove()' at the end of your

program! :-) Your operating system will automatically erase the dir if it exists. It doesn't matter if

you 'remove' a dir which does not exist. Hopefully, no runtime errors, will show up! The 'remove(Pch)'

function is also implemented in the windos library, where 'Pch' is a variable of type PChar, again.

FileSize() - Return the value of a file in bytes

Now, for the fun stuff!! To return the size of a file, simply declare a variable of 'longint' type, and

assign it to the filesize of the file. A file variable of type byte, should be assigned to the file which

you would like to return its size, using 'assign()'.

									Program Lesson_Program4;
Var  f : file of byte; { file var of type byte }
    sz : longint;  { var for the size }

{$I-} Reset(f); {$I+}
f (IOResult <> 0) then
 Begin     { file found? }
  Writeln('File not found.. exiting');
 End Else
  { Return the file size in Kilobytes }
  sz := round(FileSize(f)/1024);
  Writeln('Size of the file in Kilobytes: ',sz,' Kb');



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Other files

Use and Description of the Reserved Words in Pascal

Record Data Structure in Pascal

Functions in Pascal

String Variables in Pascal

Linked Lists in Pascal

Recursion in Pascal

Procedures in Pascal

BGI Graphics in Pascal

The Case-Of Statement in Pascal

Pointers in Pascal

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