Sunday, December 18, 2005

CSV RFC

Hmm... all acronyms in a post title. Not sure exactly how I feel about that.

In any case, at work I'm busy creating a file import utility. Part of the requirements was to import Excel generated CSV (comma separated value) files. Seems simple enough, but as it turns out Excel has a number of peculiarities about how it exports that particular format. And nowhere on Microsoft's sites could I find an exact explanation of what they do export.

This all stirred memories of going through a similar rigmarole a couple years go, searching for a CSV spec that just plain didn't exist. But now the story had a happier ending. Although it didn't top out my searches, I did eventually stumble on RFC 4180. This is exactly what I'd been searching for, laying out all the slight peculiarities I'd seen mentioned elsewhere about the format. Plus, now there's a published document to point third parties when describing the format in which they should send data.

The RFC is only at the Informational stage, but it's nice to see someone trying to get more standardization around a long-used, poorly-documented format.

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