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    Parsing a CSV File With JavaScript

    4elements | web design Den Haag blog • Parsing a CSV File With JavaScript

    Final product image
    What You'll Be Creating

    The CSV (Comma Separated Values) file format is a popular way of exchanging data between applications.

    In this quick tip, we’ll learn how JavaScript can help us visualize the data of a CSV file.

    Creating a CSV File

    To begin with, let’s create a simple CSV file. To do this, we’ll take advantage of Mockaroo, an online test data generator. Here’s our file:


    Converting a CSV File Into an HTML Table

    Now that we’ve generated the file, we’re ready to parse it and build an associated HTML table.

    As a first step, we’ll use jQuery’s ajax function to retrieve the data from this file:

    Assuming the AJAX request is successful, the successFunction is executed. This function is responsible for parsing the returned data and transforming them into an HTML table:

    So, the idea is to convert each of the CSV rows into a table row. With that in mind, let’s briefly explain how the code above works:

    • First, we use a regex to split the AJAX response, and thus separate the CSV rows.
    • Then, we iterate through the CSV rows and split their data fields.
    • Finally, we loop through the data fields and create the corresponding table cells.

    Furthermore, to get a better understanding of this code, consider the following visualization:


    At this point, it’s important to clarify why we used the /\r?\n|\r/ regex to split the CSV rows.

    As you probably already know, there are different representations of a newline across operating systems. For example, on Windows platforms the characters representing a newline are \r\n. That said, by using the regex above, we’re able to match all those possible representations.

    In addition, most text editors allow us to choose the format for a newline. Take, for instance, Notepad++. In this editor, we can specify the desired format for a document by navigating to this path:


    To illustrate it, consider our file. Depending on the format we choose, it would look like this:


    Adding Styles to the HTML Table

    Before we look at the resulting table, let’s add a few basic styles to it:

    Here’s the generated table:



    In this short article, we went through the process of converting a CSV file into an HTML table. Of course, we could have used a web-based tool for this conversion, yet I think that it’s always more challenging to achieve this by writing your own code.

    martijn broeders

    founder/ strategic creative bij 4elements web design & consultancy
    e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    telefoon: 06 38 55 28 54

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