[TxMt] Can I treat my text document as a database? sanely?

slothbear farbot+nabble at gmail.com
Wed Oct 22 15:03:50 UTC 2008

I'm looking for advice on the best way to create a new bundle -- to support a
play by mail game.  There are a number of similar games like this, like
Starweb (Flying Buffalo) and RSWGame.  They send out reports on the worlds
and fleets you own.  Players decide want to do, and send in their orders. 
Repeat until someone wins.

I already have a bunch of tools to help me manage my resources, but I was
wondering if I could tie them into a bundle to make the the process even

So far, I've been thinking of treating the text file I'm editing as a kind
of database.  It lists all of my resources.  As I issue orders, the changes
could be reflected in the text.  Any really sane implementation would use an
outside database, but I like the idea/challenge of trying to maintain
everything with the single text file.  Unless you tell me it's really super

A report for a world looks something like this:
     World 5 [TERRAN] (Metal=5, Mines=5, Population=10)
          Fleet 3 [TERRAN]=10 (Moved)
          Fleet 17 [TERRAN]=0 (Captured)

Here I'm the player TERRAN, and I own World 5 and Fleets 3 and 17.  But
Fleet 17 has no ships, so I would transfer a ship from Fleet 3.  Something
    Fleet 3 transfer 1 Fleet 17

Some keystroke later, this order would be applied to the text, and the
report would look like:
     World 5 [TERRAN] (Metal=5, Mines=5, Population=10)
          Fleet 3 [TERRAN]=9 (Moved)
          Fleet 17 [TERRAN]=1 (Captured)
       ++ Fleet 3 transfer 1 Fleet 17

The order would stay in the file (for later submission to the game), but be
marked as completed.

Each time orders are applied, I'd have to parse the whole file, apply new
orders, and change numbers and text here and there to reflect the new
reality.  The files are relatively short (maybe 5 pages max), so I doubt
performace would be a problem.

Am I overloading the concept of text editing too much?  Too much to do?  Or
just abusing the tool a bit?  Thanks for your ideas!
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