Working with Data on the Web
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with Data on the Web

with Joseph Lowery

Video: Cross-platform CSV tools

In this lesson, we'll take a look at the representative selection of online cross-platform tools for working with your CSV files. Many people use a commercial program like excel to do the bulk of their CSV work. But it's important to understand that there are free or low cost alternatives. Especially if you need to convert your data to other formats. Speaking of excel, let me introduce you to a very dandy web based Excel Viewer, which of course, can handle CSV file. You'll find it at zoho.com and it's free to use.

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Watch the Online Video Course Working with Data on the Web
2h 21m Intermediate Aug 21, 2013

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Often, designers need to convey simple data without the overhead of a relational database such as MySQL. This course introduces web technologies that make it easy for a designer or developer to store, retrieve, and display data online.

First, discover how data is collected via standard and advanced HTML5 forms. Then look at a client-friendly approach to storing that data using simple CSV files. Next, Joseph shows how to store, manage, and style data with the three big players: the granddaddy of static data, XML; the popular JavaScript-based JSON; and the recursively named YAML (YAML Ain't Markup Language), frequently used in Ruby-based projects. Plus, take a close look at basic HTML5 data options, including local storage and the flexible data attribute.

Topics include:
  • Interacting with data through HTML forms
  • Storing data as comma-separated values
  • Saving, retrieving, and displaying data as XML
  • Setting up and updating JSON data
  • Creating a YAML data file
  • Using HTML5 data storage solutions
Subjects:
Developer Web
Software:
HTML XML CSS JSON YAML
Author:
Joseph Lowery

Cross-platform CSV tools

In this lesson, we'll take a look at the representative selection of online cross-platform tools for working with your CSV files. Many people use a commercial program like excel to do the bulk of their CSV work. But it's important to understand that there are free or low cost alternatives. Especially if you need to convert your data to other formats. Speaking of excel, let me introduce you to a very dandy web based Excel Viewer, which of course, can handle CSV file. You'll find it at zoho.com and it's free to use.

Let me demo with a CSV file found in the Chapter 2, 0203 folder called RUSTOcsv. So, I'll choose File and then go to my web browser where I have the Exercise files, chapter 2, 0203, there's roux_stores.csv. I'll click Open, and then View and there's our data. As you can see, it's very similar to Excel. This is great for those folks who are used to working in that type of environment but don't have access on a local machine.

You cannot only view the data, you can also make any necessary changes. And once you're done, you can save it to your online account at zoho.com, which range from free to $5 per month. Or you can export it to a wide range of formats. That's a pretty button down site and I say that with total respect. So, let's take a look at something a little bit more out there. Csvsick.com works with CSV files from a more structural point of view, as opposed to a data point of view. So, let's upload our CSV file to see how it works. I'll choose File, pick ROOstores.csv again click Open and Upload.

Now, there are a great number of options for filtering and outputting the file on top of the Data view that you see here. In the data area itself you can modify the headers but the data is locked. However, one really cool feature is the ability to drag your columns into a new position or add an entirely new column. So, if I wanted to switch the position for sculpture and oils, I can very easily do that. Or change the name of UU ID to just Store ID.

Also pretty easy to do. You cannot, however, add new data. Once you've modified your data structure, you can either download it or preview it in a CSV format. Now, there's one more site that I want to show you, and that's textfixer.com which has a terrific tool for converting CSV text files to an HTML table. Something that I've had to do way more times than I want to think about. Now, rather than uploading the file, Text Fixer works by pasting in your CSV code.

So, let's head over to our code editor, and I'm going to open up another CSV file. Also from 02_03 so again I'm going to choose ROOstores.csv, open that and there it is in a raw csv format. So, I'll Select All > Copy it and now lets head back to Text Fixer. Scroll down a little bit here, and I'll paste it in. Now, as you can see I'm using commas and quotation marks here so I'll choose that as the separator.

And once that's done, click make HTML table code and there we have it. So, let me copy this code and now let's head back to the code editor one more time. I have, in the file 02_03, csv2table.htm, which is just a blank HTML document, and I can paste in my code. Let's save it. Now, let's take a look at the code in my code editor's default browser.

And there's a standard table filled with the CSV data, ready and able to go online. There are quite literally tons of CSV-related tools like these online and many that are dedicated to converting your CSV data to a specific format, like XML, JSON or others. Just do a quick search on CSV online converter and have at it.

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