Fun with ChatGPT

Recently, I needed to write a simple little script to import a ProFTPd xferlog file into a MySQL database. Not exactly a difficult task, and certainly something that a lot of people have done before.

Not wanting to have to spend ages trying to remember basics around this task, I took to Google, which was a complete washout. It seems to me that Google Search has pretty much become useless, all the results I got were either ads or results about mysql OR proftpd, nothing about how to import the xferlog file into MySQL.

I figured I might as well see if the buzzword of the day, ChatGPT, would handle the question, and the results were a little… shall we say… odd.

Prompt 1: Write a Python script to import a proftpd xferlog file to a mysql database

The reply took quite a while, and I stopped it after the output was in this state:

import re
import mysql.connector

def parse_xferlog(line):
    # Regular expression to extract relevant fields from the xferlog entry
    pattern = r'^(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\s+(\S+)\

That pattern line was still busy growing when I stopped it.

Clearly, ChatGPT was stuck in some sort of loop, so I took a different tack with my next prompt and decided to switch languages: Not using regular expressions, write a PHP script to import a proftpd xferlog file to a mysql table

The output from this prompt was an actual working script, though it would have failed if used as-is because it got the line format for xferlog wrong.


// Database connection details
$hostname = 'localhost';
$username = 'your_username';
$password = 'your_password';
$database = 'your_database';

// Table name
$tableName = 'xferlog';

// Path to the xferlog file
$xferlogFile = '/path/to/your/xferlog/file.log';

// Connect to MySQL
$connection = mysqli_connect($hostname, $username, $password, $database);

if (!$connection) {
    die("Connection failed: " . mysqli_connect_error());

// Truncate the table before importing
$query = "TRUNCATE TABLE $tableName";
mysqli_query($connection, $query);

// Open the xferlog file
$file = fopen($xferlogFile, 'r');

if ($file) {
    // Prepare the insert statement
    $query = "INSERT INTO $tableName (timestamp, duration, remote_host, file_size, command, status, username, service, filename)
              VALUES (?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?)";
    $stmt = mysqli_prepare($connection, $query);

    while (($line = fgets($file)) !== false) {
        // Split the line by whitespace
        $fields = preg_split('/\s+/', trim($line));

        // Extract the relevant fields
        $timestamp = $fields[0] . ' ' . $fields[1];
        $duration = $fields[2];
        $remoteHost = $fields[3];
        $fileSize = $fields[4];
        $command = $fields[5];
        $status = $fields[6];
        $username = $fields[7];
        $service = $fields[8];
        $filename = implode(' ', array_slice($fields, 9));

        // Bind the values to the prepared statement
        mysqli_stmt_bind_param($stmt, 'sssssssss', $timestamp, $duration, $remoteHost, $fileSize, $command, $status, $username, $service, $filename);

        // Execute the statement

    // Close the prepared statement

    // Close the xferlog file

    echo "Import completed successfully.";
} else {
    echo "Failed to open the xferlog file.";

// Close the database connection


This was a good enough starting point at least. I changed the $xferlogfile value to "php://stdin" so I could pipe the log file to the script and fixed the parsing of the log line to:

    // Extract the relevant fields
    $timestamp = $fields[0] . ' ' . $fields[1] . ' ' . $fields[2] . ' ' . $fields[3] . ' ' . $fields[4];
    $duration = $fields[5];
    $remoteHost = $fields[6];
    $fileSize = $fields[7];
    $filename = $fields[8];
    // ignore 9, 10
    $command = 'DOWNLOAD';
    if ($fields[11] == 'i') { $command = 'UPLOAD'; }
    // ignore 12
    $username = $fields[13];
    // ignore 14, 15, 16
    $status = 'COMPLETE';
    if ($fields[17] == 'i') { $status = 'INCOMPLETE'; }

Notice that I completely removed the “service” field from the table, in my use case the service is always sftp anyway. So my query is "INSERT INTO $tableName (timestamp, duration, remote_host, file_size, command, status, username, filename) VALUES (str_to_date(?, '%a %b %d %H:%i:%S %Y'), ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?)"

And the parameter binding is mysqli_stmt_bind_param($stmt, 'ssssssss', $timestamp, $duration, $remoteHost, $fileSize, $command, $status, $username, $filename)