Win Merge is great, I use notepad++ to edit the text files.
At the bottom of the OP is a link to the reference files if you can link to ModDB. Includes all versions, just drag and drop Rebellion folder to your desktop or mod folder.
The game does not mind some errors, but others will crash the game. Not sure by what you mean about "white spaces". The files do all have an order, the game engine loads each line and expects curtain information at the line which is changed with counts. Most sections cant be removed, rather the link to the asset is blanked out. example with a line with a link to an asset and one without.
To remove an entire entity, like a ship or a structure or research, you need to take the file out of the manifest and change the count.
Starting to mod SoaSE first requires converting files from .BIN format to .TXT format. Once converted, the files can be edited with any text editor like notepad. I recommend Notepad++ (free). BIN file are used to help the game load faster.
Note: The ConvertData files are version specific. The old ConvertData files included with Forge Tools 3 will not work with current files or the current ConvertData files will not convert older mod files.
Converting files will keep the same extension (e.g. *.entity). To open the converted files you will need to first specify a program to do so (e.g. notepad). The very first line upon opening the file will either read TXT or BIN.
To keep all my modding files together, I created a Developer folder in my C drive (C:\Developer). Inside the Developer folder, I created a folder called ConvertData
Navigate to where SoaSE is installed (e.g. C:\Program Files\Stardock\Sins of a Solar Empire) and COPY [Ctrl + C]
Paste [Ctrl + V] the files in the ConvertData folder (e.g. C:\Developer\ConvertData). Note the short address location. This address will need to be typed at the DOS prompt so keep it short to avoid spelling errors. You can also use paste at the DOS prompt.
BIN to TXT
Navigate to the folder containing the BIN files, where SoaSE is installed or the mod folder e.g.
C:\Program Files (x86)\Stardock Games\Sins of a Solar Empire - Trinity\GameInfo
and COPY [Ctrl + C] the files which you choose to mod and paste them to the ConvertData folder.
The 3 ConvertData exes are DOS programs and will need the Command Prompt window to use them.
Navigate to Start --> Programs --> Accessories --> Command Prompt
or type cmd [Enter] in the Start --> Run box.
Vista and Win 7
Navigate to Start --> All Programs --> Accessories --> Command Prompt
or type cmd [Enter] in the Start --> Start Search box.
Navigate to the ConvertData folder in DOS using the cd "Change Directory" command and address, this is not case sensitive. e.g.
There are 4 different types of files to convert.
To do each file separately from the selected expansion, use...
ConvertData_OriginalSins type FileName.type FileName.type txt [Enter]
ConvertData_Entrenchment type FileName.type FileName.type txt [Enter]
ConvertData_Diplomacy type FileName.type FileName.type txt [Enter]
Here is an example using AbilityEMPBlast.entity from OrgSins GameInfo directory.
ConvertData_OriginalSins entity AbilityEMPBlast.entity AbilityEMPBlast.entity txt
If there was no error the file will be converted to TXT and the DOS prompt will return to the convert directory.
TXT to BIN
Once the mod is tested and everything is good you may want to help the game load quicker by converting the TXT files back to BIN format. This is the same as the process above accept for the TXT switch at the end of the command line.
By default, the ConvertData exes will convert to BIN so the bin switch at the end is not required. The next 2 examples are identical.
ConvertData_OriginalSins type FileName.type FileName.type bin [Enter]
ConvertData_OriginalSins type FileName.type FileName.type [Enter]
To do multiple file at once, create a batch file (.BAT)
This .BAT example will convert the original Sins .entity files from the GameInfo directory to TXT format. The .BATs still require the ConvertData files in the same directory to work.
Inside the convert folder (e.g. C:\Developer\ConvertData) , create a new text document. Open the new text document and add the line...
for %%a in (*.entity) do ConvertData_OriginalSins entity %%a %%a txt
Press "Save As" and name it something to distinguish it from the others e.g.
Copy the original Sins .entities to be converted to the convert folder. Double clicking on the .BAT file will allow the file to open the command prompt and execute the command line.
I have made a collection of all the .BAT files for download. Add them to the convert folder for converting a single file or multiple files at once.
There are 3 ConvertData's that convert 4 file types. This makes 12 .BAT files for converting to TXT and 12 .BAT files to convert back to BIN. No need to use the DOS prompt any longer. To check or edit a .BAT file, right click the file and choose "Edit".
harpo99999's GUI for converting files