Printing a data dictionary listing (pdes)


pdes [-clmn] filename [filename]…

Prints the contents of a data dictionary and associated secondary indexes, including the number of fields, number of key fields, key and record length, and the name, type and size of each field. An optional ‘long format’ allows even more detail about each field to be included. The information is normally output to the screen but may be redirected to a file or to a printer.


Each filename should be the name of a data dictionary file. The path should be included if the file is not located in the current working directory. The files are processed one by one in the order listed. The .d extension may, optionally, be included in the filename. This allows the form

pdes *.d

to be used in order to print information about every data dictionary file in a directory.


Command line options.


Selects the compressed format. See Formats.


Selects the long format. See Formats.


Prints the output in paged format. This is useful when the output occupies more than one page of the screen. pdes pauses after each screen until a key is pressed.


Do not show details of secondary indexes. The total number of secondary indexes existing is still displayed as part of the header information.


Selects the !report format. See Formats.


The normal format, which is the default, is adequate for most purposes, including documentation. It prints the following for each data dictionary:

Header information

File name
Number of fields
Number of key fields
Record length
Key length
Number of indexes

For each field

Field name
Type and size

Summary of indexes (list of index names)

For each index

Main file name
Whether maintained open or closed
Whether null records stored

For each index field

Field name
Type and size
Array element to be stored (subscripted fields)

The long format prints the following additional information:

For each field

Validation list
Help text
Comment text
Whether hidden from SQL
Whether sign reversed for SQL

The compressed format prints the header information as for the normal format, and then prints the information for each field on a single line in the format of a Sculptor !temp declaration.

New in version 6.3.3: See the new features.

The !record format exports the data dictionary as !record structure. This can be used as the display object in a table. Fields not to be displayed can be removed, headings changed, etc. This is useful when creating a table to display a subset of the fields. Can be used with other options as follows:

-c (compressed)

Substitutes the field names for the headings

-l (long)

Adds the validation list into the !record

Error messages

Can’t read description of filename

The specified data dictionary cannot be found.

x: unknown option

The option -x is not valid for pdes.


  1. Print normal listing of all files in directory, redirecting output to a file:

    pdes *.d >datalist.txt
  2. Print long listing of a single file to screen, paging output:

    pdes -lm control
  3. Print normal listing of two named files, without details of secondary indexes:

    pdes -n stock labels


Keyed file utilities

Sculptor keyed files

Data dictionary editor