iFit: importing data into objects

  1. Importing data from a file (iData, load)
    1. Distant files (http://, ...)
    2. Compressed files (.zip, ...)
    3. Anchor references (file#anchor)
    4. Setting Signal and Axes when they are not set properly
  2. Supported data formats
  3. Example data files
  4. Importing directly from Matlab variables
  5. Importing from Matlab Figures
  6. How it works (looktxt, iLoad, Loaders)

Commands we use in this page: iData, load(iData, filename), methods
See also: Low level Loaders, Save (export) data sets and Save Models

In this document we present how to import data as iData objects from files, variables and figures. Extensive help about how to create iData objects and supported file formats can be found in the Loaders page.

Importing data from a file (iData, load)

This is done by converting a file path to an iData object, or directly with the
iData/load method. The ifitpath points to the iFit library location.
>> a = iData([ ifitpath 'Data/ILL_IN6.dat' ]);
>> a = load(iData, [ ifitpath 'Data/ILL_IN6.dat' ]);

>> a = iData + [ ifitpath 'Data/ILL_IN6.dat' ];
As seen in the last example, when performing a binary operation with a file name (here an empty object added with a file name), the corresponding file is imported.

These commands result in the following output, which produce an iData object:
iLoad: Importing file iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat with method ILL Data (normal integers) (looktxt)
looktxt iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat --headers --fortran --catenate --fast --binary --makerows=IIII --makerows=FFFF --outfile=/tmp/lk_915264556_CZi4aN
Warning: Data root level renamed as lk_915264556_CZi4aN (started with number).
Output file names are unchanged [looktxt:file_open:1377]
Warning: File 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat' c='-' [num pos=250] two fortran numbers are touching each other
Warning: File 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat' c='-' [num pos=2086] two fortran numbers are touching each other
Warning: File 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat' c='-' [num pos=2086] two fortran numbers are touching each other
Warning: File 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat' c='-' [num pos=2107] two fortran numbers are touching each other
Warning: File 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat' c='-' [num pos=2127] two fortran numbers are touching each other
Looktxt: file 'iFit/Data/ILL_IN6.dat': wrote 9 numerical fields into /tmp//lk_915264556_CZi4aN.m
iData: Setting the Signal of tp481575 to the biggest numerical field Data.IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII_13 with length 131584.

a = iData object:

[Tag] [Dimension] [Title] [Last command] [Label]
tp481575 [257 512] 'File ILL_IN6.dat ILL Data (n...' tp481575=load(iData,...

Wildcards (*,?) are supported. The file separator symbol ('/' for Linux/Unix/MacOSX and '\' for Windows) is automatically adapted to the system used.File
        selector to inport files into iData
Directory may be imported (and thus all files therein) as well as lists of files (given as a cell of strings {...})
>> a = iData( [ ifitpath 'Data' ]);
>> a = iData({ [ ifitpath 'Data/*.dat' ] ,...
[ ifitpath 'Data/sv1850.scn' ],...
[ ifitpath 'Data/sv1884.scn' ],...
[ ifitpath 'Data/sv4700.scn' ] });
which returns an array of iData objects.

A file selector, which supports multiple file selection, may be used by issuing
>> a = iData('')
>> a = load(iData,'')
The choice of the file selector style can be done in the iLoad configuration (refer to the Loaders page).

By default, an analysis of the file name extension and the file content will be done, and the best importer method will be used. It is possible to select a preferred method with e.g.
>> a = load(iData, 'filename', 'HDF5')
>> a = load(iData, 'filename', 'gui');  % a method selector pops-up.
A list of the supported formats is shown below.

The resulting objects will usually be 1D, 2D, 3D, nD histograms or nD event lists. Refer to the iData and Math page to learn how to manipulate these objects (set, get, setalias, getalias, setaxis, getaxis), and in particular how to reduce/extend their dimensionality (sum, indexing, ...), or convert events into histograms (hist, interp).

Distant files (http://, ...)

The specified file names may include URL tags such as
were the two latter cases first get a copy of the distant file (requires local write permission), and then import it. A valid Internet connection is then required, with proper Proxy settings if needed.

Compressed files (.zip, ...)

Compressed files (ZIP, TAR, GZIP, Z) can also be imported directly, in which case they are first extracted locally (requires write permission), and then imported. This extraction mechanism also applied for distant file.

Anchor references (file#anchor)

The file name may end with an anchor reference using the '#' character, such as in

[ 'file#Data' ]                        // import only parts which mention Data in file
'http://path/file.zip#Data'     // import only Data in the extracted archive

In this case, the anchor is searched in the imported data, and only the corresponding matching elements are returned. The resulting objects are thus smaller in size.

In the case a directory is given, the anchor can be used to restrict the recursive import of files, using a token to search in file names, such as
[ directory 'ILL' ]    // import only files which contain 'ILL' in their names, with recursive search
If only one level exists in the directory, then this is equivalent to importing 'directory/*ILL*'.

Setting Signal and Axes when they are not set properly

There may be cases for which the reading of the file is done properly, but the Signal, Error and Axes are set to their default values, that is the largest numerical block as the Signal, the sqrt(Signal) as the Error, and simple indices as Axes. In this case it may be appropriate to customize the appearence of the scientific data set by setting the Signal, Error aliases, and defining the Axes values.

In order to identify where the Signal and Axes may be stored in the object, you should start by displaying the Data content of the object:
>> a = iData([ ifitpath 'Data/ILL_IN6.dat' ]);
>> a.Data % displays the whole object Data structure, as read from the file and stored in memory
ans =
Attributes: [1x1 struct]
In this example, we have highligthed in red what we shall use as Signal and Axes. Then, we just define:
which sets the definition of the Signal Alias as a link to the IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII_17 field in the Data member of the object, of size 340 rows by 1024 columns. Letting the Error to its default empty definition assigns it to sqrt(this.Signal), but you may define it as a link to a part of the Data, just as for the Signal. The Signal label can optionally be defined as
>> title(a, 'Signal label');
In order to define the Axes, they can be defined similarly as the Signal:
>> a{1} = 'this.Data.SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS(:,1)'; % defines the 1st axis as a link to the Data
where we make use of the this self reference in the link (meaning find in myself), which allows expressions instead of simple static links as for the Signal. This way we define the 1st axis as the first column of the SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS field. It should have the proper dimension, in this example 340.
In this example, the second Axis of this 2d object has is not part of the Data. We may then define it as a numerical value with e.g.
>> a{2} = linspace(0.001, 0.003, 1024);
which is a 1024 element vector from 1 to 3 ms. The Axis labels can be set with e.g.:
>> label(a, 1, 'angle channel [1]')
>> label(a, 2, 'tof [ms]')
The final object is now fully described, and ready to be plotted, fitted, and tortured...

To get more help: help iData, help iData/load

Supported data formats

In principle, any text based file is loaded transparently (see below). Binary files require a dedicated wrapper, but many formats are supported. In some case, additional axis definition specific to the format will be applied.

The list of available methods is usually stored in the iFit/Librarires/Loaders/iLoad_ini.m file,
and can be obtained from the iLoad function
>> iLoad('formats');	% or: iData('formats')
A local iLoad.ini configuration file may be stored in the Matlab Preferences directory, which then overrides the system default (refer to the iLoad configuration help page).

The current supported format list is (details in Loaders):iData load import method
A detailed list of format descriptions can be found in the Loaders help pages, as well as the procedure to be used to define new data formats. Some of these formats are also available for Saving iData objects.

To force a file to be imported with a specific data format, specify the format description or extension as listed from the iData('formats') output e.g.:
>> iData('formats')
PDB read_pdb/load_xyen Protein Data Bank
>> iData('filename','Protein Data Bank')
>> iData('filename','PDB')
If you can not import a reluctant text file, try the most tolerant text reader configurations:
>> iData('filename','text format with fast import method')
>> iData('filename','Data (text format)')
will import the raw content, without post formatting of the object in memory. You will probably need to assign manually some of the Signal and Axes (see iData object help).

If you want to tune the way a text file is read, read the 'Unsupported data formats' section in the Loaders page. You can for instance handle wrapped lines, specific tokens to search for, automatic append mode, ...

A typical, usage would be:
>> a=iData(filename, 'text','--catenate','--fast','--headers','--wrapped', ... other options);
The full list of options for text files can be obtained with:
>> iLoad(' ','text','--help')
It may also be that the looktxt MeX file is corrupted. Refer to the Changes/Bugs and Install pages.

Example data files

iFit: example DataThe iFit package provides a set of example data files used to demonstrate the functionality of the package. The description of each format is in Loaders. All of these can be directly accessed with e.g.
>> b = iData([ ifitpath 'Data/' filename ]);
>> a = iData([ ifitpath 'Data' ]);
>> subplot(a, 'tight')
The empty iData object ∅ can be obtained from:
>> a=iData
>> a=zeros(iData, size)

Importing directly from Matlab variables

A direct import of a Matlab variable is performed with
>> a = iData(variable)
such as
>> a = iData(rand(10))
>> a = iData(struct('a',1,'b','a string'))
This works for basically any input object (structure, numeric array, cell, ...).

In addition, it is possible to evaluate an iFunc model, and create an iData of it:
>> g = gauss(5); 		% an iFunc Gaussian with initial width=5
>> a = iData(g, [], -5:5); % evaluate the model with its current parameters
A special syntax is available to import Signal and Axis definitions with e.g.
>> a = iData(x,y,...c);
imports Signal as 'c' and axes x,y, ...
The Error, defaulted to sqrt(Signal), may be defined as well using e.g.:
>> a.Error = 'Data.myErrors';	% define the Error alias as a link inside the Data
where myErrors should be found in the object Data. Identify it by displaying it with e.g.:
>> a.Data
Refer to the Setting Signal and Axes when they are not set properly help in order to customize the appearence of the object.

The findobj method can be used to inquire for all iData objects available in the workspace/memory:
>> a = findobj(iData);
The zeros method initializes an empty (or constant) array of objects:
>> a=zeros(iData, size)  % create a [size] array of empty objects
>> a=zeros(object, size) % duplicates 'object' as a [size] array

Importing from Matlab FiguresThe
        Peaks figure imported as an iData

The direct import method also works from Matlab figures, when simply giving a valid Handle Graphics Object to iData:
>> f=figure; peaks;
>> a = iData(f);
The handle can be a figure, a surface, an axis, a line, ...

How it works (looktxt, iLoad, Loaders)

The file names to import are sent to the Loaders/iLoad routine, which scans the file and searches for the file extension and patterns in the file contents (in the case of text files) in order to identify the proper importation method to use.

The text files are processed with the looktxt parser (refer to http://looktxt.sourceforge.net) and translated into a Matlab script which is then read into the workspace. Binary files are read with dedicated read routines, as it is usually not possible to interpret correctly the file structure ab-initio.

The resulting Matlab variable is a structure, which holds a Data field with all numerical blocks from the initial file, and a Header field which holds any preceding comment strings for each field. Data fields are automatically named from keywords/comments found just before the numerical blocks (in text files).

The structures are then converted into iData objects, and optionally some data format specific post-processing scripts are applied, as described in Loaders/iLoad_ini.m. When no Signal is defined, it is assigned to the largest numerical block found in the file. The default axes are set as matrix indexes.

Refer to the Loaders documentation to learn how to customize load methods and import filters.

To get more help: Loaders, looktxt

E. Farhi - iFit/iData loading data - Mar. 22, 2017 1.9 - back to Main iFit Page ILL,
          Grenoble, France <www.ill.eu>