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PDF to Excel C#, ASP.NET

Posted on 2008-09-29
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I have a pdf file that contains a table. I need to be able to read this data into my C# ASP.NET application. I was thinking of first converting it to an excel file and then using the interlop class to open and read the excel file.

Does anyone how know to successfully read an PDF file?

Many thanks.
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Question by:copyPasteGhost
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Expert Comment

by:CyrexCore2k
ID: 22599673
That is going to be extremely hairy and error prone. If there is any other option at all I suggest you consider it before embarking on a design like this. Perhaps if you share the details of your project I might be able to suggest something a bit less... brutal?
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by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22599791
I argee...This is going to extremely hardcore....Alright basically we are sent by email a document from the post office in (pdf). I need to extrapulate the data from the pdf (tracking number, price) and then scrap the post office site passing the tracking number in the url string to find out when the package arrived and then write the results to an excel file, then email it to the tracking department.

That's pretty much it.
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Expert Comment

by:CyrexCore2k
ID: 22599830
I would /think/ the post office would have an option to email you plain text emails. I'd be very surprised if they didn't. Or have you already explored that possibility?
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LVL 13

Author Comment

by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22599855
the thing is they don't really email us the document. they email us an alert letting us know the doc is ready and we go download on their site. (in pdf format) we are actually trying to get the post office to give it to us in excel. Would plain text be better? If so why?
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by:CyrexCore2k
ID: 22599888
well plain text is always easiest to parse.

hmmm... still, it seems odd that they wouldn't have equivalent information in plain text format readily available on the site.
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Author Comment

by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22599901
maybe I didn't look hard enough. let me check and then get back to you.
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Author Comment

by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22600035
nope. only pdf.
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Expert Comment

by:CyrexCore2k
ID: 22600042
You might try calling them too. Ask them where you should view your bill if you're blind. I'm assuming you're talking about the USPS which is required to maintain 508 compliance which means they should have resources for the blind. Since they can't rely on Adobe Reader properly maintaining compliance they should have a text version available that can be read by any text based browser (combined with a speech generator this is what the blind normally use).
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Author Comment

by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22600102
I'm actually in canada. so it's Canada Post. But I'm sure they have something similar...

I found a service called zamzar they will convert a pdf into text.

they give me a file that looks like this:

                7146410002759095              EX/CA J7E         A1A 5S4            1   9.47  5,19,20       3        5          15.90             3.65             19.55
                7146410002760091              EX/CA J7E         M3A 1S6            1   4.27   19,20        2        5           5.88             0.65              6.53
                7146410002761098              EX/CA J7E         M3C 3N4            1   0.33   19,20        2        5           4.21             0.46              4.67
                7146410002762095              EX/CA J7E         T0C 0T0            1   1.00   19,20        2        5           9.25             1.02             10.27
                7146410002763092              EX/CA J7E         E2M 1J8            1   0.33   19,20        3        5           6.18             0.68              6.86
                7146410002764099              EX/CA J7E         G0A 1A0            1   1.00   19,20        2        4           6.38             0.70              7.08
                7146410002765096              EX/CA J7E         K0K 1X0            1   0.58   19,20        2        5           5.79             0.64              6.43
                7146410002767090              EX/CA J7E         H7N 4X5            1   2.37   19,20        2        4           4.46             0.49              4.95



I'm interested in the 9th column. the one starting with 15.90. then 5.88.....

How can I parse that?

Thanks.
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Accepted Solution

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CyrexCore2k earned 2000 total points
ID: 22600215
Assuming those are spaces and not tabs you can open the file and read each line into a string. Then use

Eater(ref myLine, 8);
string Value = Eater(ref myLine, 1);

For each one of the lines and you should be able to grab the values.
        private static string Eater(ref string record, int elements)
        { return Eater(ref record, elements, " "); }
        private static string Eater(ref string record, int elements, string separator)
        {
            int start = 0;
            int separatorat = record.IndexOf(separator, start);
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
 
            if(separatorat == -1)
            {
                sb.Append(record);
                record = "";
                return sb.ToString();
            }
 
            while (elements > 0 & separatorat > -1)
            {
                elements--;
                if (separatorat - start > 0)
                {
                    sb.Append(record.Substring(start, separatorat - start));
                    start = separatorat;
                }
                while (record.Substring(start, 1) == separator & start + 1 < record.Length)
                    start++;
                record = record.Substring(start);
                start = 0;
                separatorat = record.IndexOf(separator, start);
            }
            return sb.ToString();
        }

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Author Comment

by:copyPasteGhost
ID: 22605725
I see you are using the ref keyword....

what does that do?

thanks
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Expert Comment

by:CyrexCore2k
ID: 22610597
If you pass an object using the ref keyword to a function and then change the value of that parameter from inside the function the original value will also change. Refer to the example below.

I use it in this case because I want the eater function to "eat" the portion of the string that it's parsed as well as pass back a value to me. Since I can't get multiple return values, this method works quite nicely.
void UseRef(ref string somevalue)
{
   somevalue = "Hello World!";
}
 
void SomeFunction()
{
   string myvalue = "Hello.";
   // Message box will be "Hello."
   System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(myvalue);
   // Note you use the ref keyword here as well.
   UseRef(ref myvalue);
   // Message box will be "Hello World!"
   System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(myvalue);
}

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