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Using the FileSystemObject to Read Text Files

In the previous FAQ, we discussed that the general purpose of the FileSystemObject (FSO) is to allow access to the host computer's file system. One common function when dealing with a computer's file system, is reading the contents of a file. FSO provides a TextStream object that is useful for reading and writing the contents of a text file. In this FAQ, we will discuss how to use the TextStream object to read the contents of a file.

When using the TextStream object or other FSO objects, you need to first declare an instance of the FileSystemObject. For our script, let's start by creating an instance of the FileSystemObject:

'Create an instance of the FileSystemObject object
Dim objFSO
Set objFSO = Server.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

Before we open a file, we should always test to make sure it exists. The FileSystemObject provides a useful function to determine whether or not a file exists, aptly named FileExists. The syntax for FileExists is:


So, in this example, we want to output the contents of the text file D:\scott\resume.txt. Before we open our file, we will make sure that it exists.

Earlier I mentioned that the TextStream object is responsible for reading and writing to the contents of a text file. A TextStream object instance is used to iterate through the contents of a particular text file. So, before we can use a TextStream, we must inform the TextStream object instance what text file we are interested in. This is accomplished using the FileSystemObject's OpenTextFile method. The OpenTextFile method has the following syntax:

FileSystemObjectInstance.OpenTextFile(FullFilePath[, iomode])

Note: there are two more parameters, but we are only interested in these first two for the time being. If you are interested in the full specifications, read this.

The optional iomode parameter decides what IO mode the file is opened with. The following values can be used:

iomode Values

These constants are not defined in a text file like the ADO constants are defined in ADOVBS.inc. Therefore, you should define the constant you wish to use. For example, if I use the ForReading constant, you will see ASP code like:

Const fsoForReading = 1

The OpenTextFile method returns a TextStream object instance. So, to set a variable to a TextStream object instance for reading the contents of a particular file, you would use the following syntax:

'Assumes a FileSystemObject instance named objFSO exists Const fsoForReading = 1
Dim objTextStream
Set objTextStream = objFSO.OpenTextFile("C:\SomeFile.txt", fsoForReading)

The TextStream object has the following important methods for reading text files:

  • Read(characters) - Reads a specified number of characters from the text file, returning a resulting string.
  • ReadLine - Reads an entire line up to, but not including, the new line character. The results are returned as a string.
  • ReadAll - Reads the entire contents of the file, returning the results as a string.

Finally, the TextStream object has a Close method, which should be used when you have finished reading from the file.

Now, let's look at how we could read the entire contents of a text file, D:\scott\resume.txt. We will use the FileExists method first, to make sure that the file does indeed exist. If it does, we'll output the contents of the file; if it doesn't, we'll display an appropriate message.

Dim objFSO
Set objFSO = Server.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

Dim objTextStream

const strFileName = "D:\scott\resume.txt"
const fsoForReading = 1

If objFSO.FileExists("D:\scott\resume.txt") then
	'The file exists, so open it and output its contents
	Set objTextStream = objFSO.OpenTextFile(strFileName, fsoForReading)
	Response.Write "
" & objTextStream.ReadAll & "
" objTextStream.Close Set objTextStream = Nothing Else 'The file did not exist Response.Write strFileName & " was not found." End If 'Clean up Set objFSO = Nothing

Well, there you have it, reading the contents of a text file using the FileSystemObject and TextStream objects. A closing note: whenever you use objects, you should always do Set Object = Nothing when you are done using them.

In our next FAQ, we will discuss how to write to text files using the FileSystemObject and TextStream objects.

Happy Programming!

FAQ Table of Contents   What is the FileSystemObject? Using the FileSystemObject to Write to Text Files 

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