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What is CSV File?
Welcome back to five-minute post in this article we’re going to be talking about CSV and how they can be used to store data. so what does CSV stand for? it stands for comma-separated values but what does that actually mean? it’s a way of storing data to show how this is done.
CSV is a simple file format that is used to store table data, such as a spreadsheet or database and file can easily be imported and exported using software that store data in tables, such as Microsoft Excel(.xls,xlsx) or OpenOffice Calc.CSV stands for “comma-separated values“. Its data fields are often separated by commas
For example, suppose you had a spreadsheet that contained the following data.
The above data can be represented in the CSV-format file as follows:
Here, the fields of data in each row are separated with a comma and the individual rows are separated by a new line.
You can also create this file in either Excel, Google Sheets or by using Notepad, you can save it with .csv extension.
Why are CSV files used?
- CSV files are plain text files, making them easy for website developers.
- CSV being plain text makes it easy to import data into any spreadsheet program or database.
- A CSV file is a text file, so it can be created and improved using any text editor.
How to open the CSV file?
Primarily, spreadsheet programs are widely used to open CSV files. It is very easy to read them here.A spreadsheet program sorts data through columns in a CSV file. It helps to filter all the contents of the file.
If you already have OpenOffice Calc installed on your computer, a CSV file should open automatically by double-clicking.Alternatively, you can also use online spreadsheet programs such as Google Sheets or Zoho Office.
These tools allow more than one user to have access to a single file in real-time.You can also use Google Drive to open your CSV file.
CSV Files with an example
Let’s look at an example of data over Christmas, I went home to visit my family in the US I
went from Canberra Australia to Chicago Illinois and it was important for me to keep track
of all my flights.
Each flight had a flight number a departure time of flight duration and a seat number and keeping track of all that data meant that I could get home on time and see my family for Christmas by laying data out in a table.
it makes it easy to look up information but how can we take a table of information like this and put it into the computer the easiest way to import data is to type it into a file, each row of data goes into its line and we use commas to separate the values in the columns.
Storing data in this way is easy for both people and computers to both read and write and that’s a CSV but now there are some problems that can arise when you write out data like this like what happens when some of your values have commas in them say just for fun on your way home you want to make a little detour and make a pit stop in Germany and in Europe they use a comma instead of a DOT to separate decimal points like in a duration of time for example in u.s. an hour and a half will be written as 1 Point 5 and in Europe it would be 1.
Understanding CSV Files in Excel
Comma five having something like this would be kind of confusing because if this was inputting it
into a CSV it would be considered two different values instead of one to get around this for most systems is just putting quotes around the values as this helps them interpret the data correctly if he put quotes it’s considered one value for different systems.
we’re putting quotes doesn’t work then we have to try a different approach when there are too many different commas for quotations to be practical then we can use a different separator to indicate spaces between different values another common separator that is used in data is the Tab Key this inserts an invisible symbol just like hitting the space bar inserts an invisible space while it’s hard for a person to tell the difference between these two symbols the spacebar on the tab key a computer can tell quite easily.
A reason why the tab symbol is used is so that it pads the data so they all have the same width and all the lines line up on the computer because we use the tab key as a new separator it is no longer considered a CSV it is now a Tsv .
which stands for tab-separated values another way to separate your data is to have no separators and instead you can put your data into a table and you can pad or trim the values to make sure everything is the same with this type of format doesn’t use the limiters.
it’s hard to tell where the data starts and stops but we can use a data dictionary so you know how to read each entry of data these are known as fixed with files all columns are a certain width long say the flight number the time and the origin of the flight is being recorded.
if the data is too long for the columns they would start to go into the next column and create a mess of the data the metadata tells us that the flight number is four spaces long time is four spaces and the origin is six spaces eventually some data formats become too complicated and complex to store in a CSV or TSV and that’s when you have to make a switch to another database or Excel.
so it is more complex and stores a lot more information behind the scenes because all of my data is stored correctly and easy to interpret.