The base code for FlatPack was started as PZFileReader. At the time, I was writing quite a few file imports which were mostly fixed width. I kept encountering the same problem; we had to add something to the file layout somewhere, or expand a length, thus changing all the substrings in the code.
I decided that there must be a way to map out the file so that changing the file layout would not break the code. This is when PZFileReader was born, although it did not have a name as of yet. The first iteration of the code had the field mappings in a database table, and seemed to work very well for my projects at work.
At that time, I had been spending a lot of time on the Java Sun forums. The same questions kept re-appearing. How do I read a CSV file, or how do I read fixed text. I decided that with a little more work, my project could benefit the community. Whenever I had some free time at home I started to make enhancements to the code.
I developed a way to map columns with an XML file instead of having to store the mapping in a database, and a generic parser to handle any kind of delimited file, the delimited and qualifier were passed into the constructor.
This brings us to today. Since the first release, there have been many fixes / enhancements to the parser, mainly the delimited parser. My hope is that this project will take off and become a fixture in the community. If you have a good experience with this project, and it has benefited you in some way, please spread the word.
Recently, ObjectLab from the UK has decided to offer some support to PZFileReader. PZFileReader is now "kind of" part of the ObjectLab Kit family, a 'support' group for useful open source projects. They developed the Maven build, the website and are active members of this project. They are world leaders in the design and development of bespoke applications for the Securities Finance Industry.
In May 2007, we realised that PZFileReader was actually much more than what the name implied... we then renamed it FlatPack!