CSV application support

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The comma-separated values file format is a very simple data file format that is supported by almost all spreadsheet software such as Excel (although Excel uses the list separator of the current locale settings, which is a semicolon instead of a comma for many locales), Apple Numbers, OpenOffice.org Calc and Gnumeric as well as many online spreadsheet services such as EditGrid and Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Many database management systems support the reading and writing of CSV files.

Programming language tools[edit]

Any programming language that has input/output and string processing functionality is able to read and write CSV files. Here is a list of individual programming language support for the comma-separated values format.

Language Tool Notes
BASIC none required supported internally
C/C++ Free tools:


No comments in code. separated documentation.

Well documented, includes a CSV BNF grammar.

Delphi/Object Pascal
Haskell Not sure if RFC compliant.
Java Several free CSV tools exist:

and commercial tools:

There are also JDBC drivers available: [1] [2] [3] [4] and an ODBC driver: [5]

LaTeX datatool replaces former bundle csvtools from CTAN
Lisp fare-csv, csv-parser fare-csv is an ASDF package, csv-parser is a .lisp file
Mathematica Import/Export Built in support.
MATLAB csvread, dlmread. In the standard library.
.Net FileHelpers - An Automatic File Import/Export Framework by Marcos Meli (LGPL) Blog

Flat File Checker - Data validation tool that supports CSV files.

Fast CSV Reader by Sébastien Lorion. Open Source class (MIT licence).

CSV Reader

GemBox.Spreadsheet by GemBox Software for CSV <==> XLS conversion.

TFieldedText Reads and writes CSV files using Fielded Text. (Public domain licence)

CSV Helper by Josh Close. Reads and writes CSV files. Does automatic custom class conversion. Open Source (Ms-PL).

TextFieldParser Class Reads delimeted and fixed with files. Microsoft.VisualBasic.FileIO Namespace.

OCaml OCaml CSV

Col: conversion between lists of records and CSV files with header (Camlp4 syntax extension)

Perl Text::CSV_XS, Text::CSV, or using a Perl DBI interface:

DBD::CSV, DBD::AnyData, csvdiff - compare two csv-files

from CPAN
Perl The first published formal Perl CSV specification. not from CPAN
PHP fgetcsv() function, fputcsv() function, or parseCSV by Jim Myhrberg In the standard library.
PSPP None required. Available in the GET DATA command and from the graphical interface.
Python Python CSV module In the standard library.
R read.csv In the standard library.
Ruby Ruby CSV module, or FasterCSV by James Gray In the standard library.
Ruby on Rails framework Convertible to csv as an add-on (gem or plugin).
Scheme Chicken Scheme CSV module
Stata Import/Export Built in support.
Tcl CSV-module of Tcl-library: package require csv
VBScript Parse Csv File
Visual Basic ParseCSV
Windows Powershell Export-CSV and Import-CSV Shell builtins Supports Typed CSV format
xmlsh Supports conversions from csv to xml csv2xml and from xml to csv xml2csv A pure java scripting language

Data interpretation[edit]

Many applications that import CSV will try to interpret numbers and dates in order to allow sorting or other formatting features. For example, if a CSV field contains a large integer such as 1234567890123456 then it will appear in Gnumeric as 1.2346789012346E+15 and the resulting value is less accurate. Some applications also accept a single quote-character at the beginning of numbers as a way to indicate that it should be displayed as text (typically left aligned while numbers are right aligned). Also, although the csv specification does not specifically define any support for spreadsheet formulas, most spreadsheet programs will support cell formulas entered with csv by preceding the formula with an equal sign. For example if your csv document contained "1,2,3,=max(A1:C1)" most spreadsheet programs would correctly display 3 in the cell D1.


The csvprint utility will reformat CSV input based on a format string. This can be useful for reordering fields or generating source code or tables as illustrated in the following example:

 $ csvprint data.csv "\t{ %0, %1, %2, \"%3\" },\n"
         { 0xC0000008, 0x00060001, NT_STATUS_INVALID_HANDLE, "The handle is invalid." },

csvdiff is a Perl script to compare/diff two comma separated files with each other. The difference from standard diff is that the number of the record where the difference occurs is displayed, as well as the specific column which is different. The separator can be set to the other values besides comma. A third file which contains the columns' names separated by the separator can also be included. The column names will be shown if a difference is found. For example:

$ perl csvdiff.pl -a act.csv -e exp.csv -s ";" -c col_names.csv -k "2" -t -i
Record with key "200100500" is different:
 Actual   line 006 > 200100500;200100500;6;;;;;;000;0;2005-12-20;55 <
 Expected line 008 > 200100500;200100500;6;;;;;;000;0;2005-12-19;55 <
  Difference in field no.: 11 - field name: Dat_Rueckgabe
   Actual   > 2005-12-20 <
   Expected > 2005-12-19 <

Ron's Editor and TablePro are a shareware applications for Windows that open any format of CSV file, in any text encoding for viewing, editing and cleaning.

CSVed is a freeware utility for Windows that loads a CSV file with its tabular structure and allows editing it in an efficient way.