Knowledgebase: General
When uploading a table, I get an error saying "Failed to parse the table." What should I do?
Posted by IRSA HelpDesk on 01 April 2013 02:20 PM

Three common conditions may result in this error message.

Reason #1: When using IPAC Table Format, data are located beneath the vertical bars in the header.

Solution: Align the data with the columns in the header. (See IPAC Table Format)

Reason #2: Space is used as data delimiter, but also exists within the data, making it uninterpretable.

Solution: If you are using the tab-delimited format, carefully check your data for extra tabs that the system is interpreting as new columns. Be aware that tabs are not visually obvious when viewed on screen or in print; it's best to use a text editor that will allow you to view the file's underlying formatting. (See Best Practices For Successful Table Upload)

Reason: #3 Table contains non-printable ASCII characters.

A non-printable ASCII character in a table, such as ^[ (escape) or ^\ (file separator), can create problems during the upload process. Tabs are one of the most common causes of failed uploads because they are considered characters, even if they don't appear on print-outs, or even on-screen. When used in a table, the tab character is translated into its ASCII counterpart (^I), which is not interpretable during table upload.

Solution: Remove the characters from the file. Cleaning up tabs is done differently, based on your operating system and text editor:

  • On Max OSX, Linux and Sun OS, use the Unix command cat to view a file's non-printable characters:

    cat -tev filename

    Here are two examples:

    Example 1: cat -tev ipac_good_table.tbl
    |         lon        |           lat     |$
    |        double    |        double  |$
        237.140482     -28.797019  $
        237.3              -28.0           $

    Example 2: cat -tev tab_delim_table.txt
    M56^I289.147941100^I30.184500500 $
    ic4710^I277.158208330^I-66.982277780 $
    hoix^I149.383333330^I69.045833330 $
    This will bring your file to the screen with all hidden characters, such as tabs (^I) and end of lines ( $ ) indicated. Tabs may seem like spaces and can easily be found using this command, and fixed. Additional blank space at the end of each line causes parser errors; if the end of line ( $ ) characters do not line up, then delete the blank space until they do.
  • In Microsoft Word on Windows machines, view all tabs in a document by toggling on formatting marks (click the toolbar button that looks like a paragraph symbol, similar to the pi symbol). Remove the arrows embedded within the table, and then save the file as "text only." Here is a screenshot example:
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