Extract and Parse Structured Objects out of String

This also introduces some additional functionality for the ConvertFrom-String cmdlet:

  • Removes the extent text property by default. You can include it with the -IncludeExtent parameter.

  • Many learning algorithm bug fixes from MVP and community feedback.

  • A new -UpdateTemplate parameter to save the results of the learning algorithm into a comment in the template file. This makes the learning process (the slowest stage) a one-time cost. Running Convert-String with a template that contains the encoded learning algorithm is now nearly instantaneous.

Extract and parse structured objects out of string content

In collaboration with Microsoft Research, a new ConvertFrom-String cmdlet has been added.

This cmdlet supports two modes: basic delimited parsing, and auto generated example-driven parsing.

Delimited parsing, by default, splits the input at white space, and assigns property names to the resulting groups. You can customize the delimiter:

1 [C:\temp] >> "Hello World" | ConvertFrom-String | Format-Table -Auto

P1 P2


The cmdlet also supports auto-generated example-driven parsing based on the FlashExtract research work in Microsoft Research.

To get started, consider a text-based address book:

Ana Trujillo

Redmond, WA

Antonio Moreno

Renton, WA

Thomas Hardy

Seattle, WA

Christina Berglund

Redmond, WA

Hanna Moos

Puyallup, WA

Copy a few examples into a file, which you will use as your template:

Ana Trujillo

Redmond, WA

Antonio Moreno

Renton, WA

Put curly braces around data that you want to extract, giving it a name as you do so. Because the Name property (and its associated other properties) can appear multiple times, use an asterisk (*) to indicate that this results in multiple records (rather than extracting a bunch of properties into one record):

{Name\*:Ana Trujillo}

{City:Redmond}, {State:WA}

{Name\*:Antonio Moreno}

{City:Renton}, {State:WA}

From this set of examples, ConvertFrom-String can now automatically extract object-based output from input files with similar structure.

2 [C:\temp]

>> Get-Content .\addresses.output.txt | ConvertFrom-String -TemplateFile .\addresses.template.txt | >>> Format-Table -Auto

ExtentText Name City State


Ana Trujillo... Ana Trujillo Redmond WA Antonio Moreno... Antonio Moreno Renton WA Thomas Hardy... Thomas Hardy Seattle WA Christina Berglund... Christina Berglund Redmond WA Hanna Moos... Hanna Moos Puyallup WA

To do additional data manipulation on extracted text, the ExtentText property captures the raw text from which the record was extracted. To provide feedback on this feature, or to share content for which you are having difficulty writing examples, please email psdmfb@microsoft.com.