What is CSV?


OK, so What is CSV?

CSV is an acronym for Comma Separated Values. They don’t look very good as a report, but your spreadsheet will love them.

The idea for this lesson came from a comment I received today on AQWillDo. The comment asked how to create a CSV file because CSV doesn’t appear anywhere on the Reports and Charts screen. There are a few ways to get AQ to create a CSV. The most obscure way I found was as the output from a database compare. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own. (Hint: Look up CSV in the AQ 15 User Manual)  The easier way, and probably the way you are most likely to use is to create a Comma Separated Values file from a Custom Report.

Here is part of a CSV file I created to experiment with how it all works. I learned a few things while I did that experiment, and you may as well see what I learned.

Above is a CSV report of some of the people in my file who were born in 1845. To get this report I started a Custom Report where I selected the RIN and Surname, Given Names as the two fields to place on the report. I sorted the report in ascending order by RIN. I clicked the Select button then the Define button to tell AQ which records I wanted in the report. I selected those born in the Range 1 Jan 1845 to 31 Dec 1845. When I returned to the Reports and Charts screen I clicked on the Text File (.txt) radio button. That is what created my output in the CSV file format. Note that AQ appends the .txt file name extension, and not .csv. That will not stop your spreadsheet from reading the file.

Above is the same report when the destination is Printer/Screen. The major differences are that the CSV version shows each field in quotes, and a comma separates the two fields on each line. Notice also that in the CSV version the names Brown through Marsden do not line up with Harrison through Kirkham. This is because some of the RIN numbers are three characters long and others are four characters long. This shift doesn’t happen in the Printer/Screen version because you format the spacing as you select the fields, if not actively, then by default.

You may be asking why the comma between the surname and the given names doesn’t cause the CSV file to have three fields instead of just two. That is what the quotes around each field prevent.

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