Comma Separated Values (CSV) is a file format used for storing and transmitting tabular data, such as databased or spreadsheets, and is one of the most widely used and commonly understood data formats. It stores data separated by commas, tabs, or any other characters specified in the program being used. CSVs are often used to exchange data between two or more systems, either as an independent file format, or as the data contained within a file format such as a PDF or HTML document.
A CSV is usually created using a spreadsheet editor such as Microsoft Excel, but can be exported from databases, text editors, and other applications. It is important to note, however, that while a CSV can store multiple values, it cannot store formatting and structure of data. This means that all labels and headings will be lost when exporting to a CSV file.
When opening a CSV, the values will appear in the cells, with each value separated by the selected delimiter. This can be customized by the user, with the most widely used delimiter being the comma. However, other delimiters, such as semicolons or tabs, may also be employed depending on the application being used. It is important to note, however, that some applications may require the delimiter to be a specific character, and it is important to use that specific character when saving the data.
CSV files can be imported and exported using most spreadsheet editors, database systems, and programming languages. They can also be viewed in text editors, as the data will not be separated within the editor, but can be read without difficulty.
CSV files are increasingly being used as a standard exchange format, due to their versatility and ease of use, and as such can be used in a wide range of applications. As a simple and versatile way of exchanging data, they are a great choice for many applications.