Coder of Salvation™   — programming / opensource / console / minimal

The ultimate dataformat for Bash: tab,space, and comma separated? But how?


I wish there was a textformat which enables me to share data between many programminglanguages including bash.


Because I want to use data from other sources (spreadsheets, applications etc).

Solution: Tabular data (SSV/TSV/CSV)

Tabular tabledata is easy to manage in bash (and if not, awk does). Space separated values (SSV) is natively supported by bash:

echo "one two three" | while read a b c; do
  echo $a,$b,$c
# outputs: one,two,three

TSV works fine too when the field separator (Default:space) is changed to tabs:

echo -e "one\ttwo\tthree" | while IFS=$'\t' read a b c; do 
  echo $a,$b,$c

CSV works fine with gnu awk, which is installed on most systems:

cat foo.csv | csvget 1 3 

NOTE: my personal favorite is csv since because of its import/export feature in spreadsheet editors.

Conversion between TSV, CSV, and SSV

from TSV to SSV

$ echo -e "foo\tbar" | expand 

from SSV to TSV

$ echo "foo bar" | unexpand

from CSV to TSV

Bonus: nice output in the console

CSV,TSV,SSV can look messy very easily:

$ cat foo.csv
BACKLOG,"","emailtemplate: layout optimize","",
DONE,notifs,"emailtemplate: cancel subscription abstract workflow thru sb? (yes!)","",
BACKLOG,notcus,"improved error logging (using log function) + errorscreen","",

Well, this looks better:

$ cat foo.csv | csv2table
13   BACKLOG    webapp             transfer paypal to bank        
221  BACKLOG                       dd variable filters+digest payed 
58   BACKLOG    bshlive            bshlive openshift (php webpipes 

Other ideas: mashup with other languages


Bash is ready for it, are you?

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