Release characters

A release character is a one-byte character in your data indicating that the character(s) following it should be interpreted as data, not as a syntax object. The release character is not treated as data, but the data that follows it is treated as actual data.

Building release characters for output data

If a release character is defined for a type, a release character is inserted for each occurrence of a syntax object in the data of any item contained in that type.

Guidelines for using release characters

Guidelines for using release characters include the following:

  • Release characters apply to character data only, not binary data.
  • Characters defined as pad characters are not released.
  • The maximum size of an item does not include the release characters.

Release character example

The group type Record type has a literal delimiter of , and a release character of ?. The group type Record has three item components. Data for the record looks like the following:

Miller?, MD,Harkin Hospital,1996

The ? releases the comma after Miller.

In the first field, the actual data value is Miller, MD. Because the comma appears as part of the data, it is necessary to have the release character ?, which indicates that the , following it is data, not a delimiter. This data would be interpreted as the following:

Data for component #1: Miller, MD

Data for component #2: Harkin Hospital

Data for component #3: 1996

A release character can apply to a delimiter, a terminator, or even the release character itself.

If a release character appears in the data and it is not followed by a syntax item, the release character is ignored.