There are two output formats used by db_dump and db_dump185.
In both output formats, the first few lines of the output contain header information describing the underlying access method, filesystem page size and other bookkeeping information. This information is output in name=value pairs, where name may be any of the keywords listed in the db_load manual page, and value will be its value. While this header information can be manually edited before the database is reloaded, there is rarely any reason to do so, as all of this information can also be specified or overridden by command-line arguments to db_load.
Following the header information are the key/data pairs from the database. If the database being dumped is of type Btree or Hash, the output will be paired lines of text, where the first line of the pair is the key item, and the second line of the pair is its corresponding data item. If the database being dumped is of type Recno, the output will be lines of text, where each line is the next data item for the database.
If the -p option to db_dump or db_dump185 was specified, the key/data lines will consist of single characters representing any characters from the database that are printing characters and backslash \ escaped characters for any that were not. Backslash characters appearing in the output mean one of two things: if the backslash character precedes another backslash character, it means that a literal backslash character occurred in the key or data item. If the backslash character precedes any other character, the next two characters must be interpreted as hexadecimal specification of a single character, e.g., \0a is a newline character in the ASCII character set.
Although some care should be exercised, it is perfectly reasonable to use standard text editors and tools to edit databases dumped using the -p option before re-loading them using the db_load utility.
Note that the definition of a printing character may vary from system to system, and so database representations created using the -p option may be less portable than those created without it.
If the -p option to db_dump or db_dump185 is not specified, each output line will consist of paired hexadecimal values, e.g., the line 726f6f74 is the string root in the ASCII character set.
In all output formats, a single newline character ends both the key and data items.