I regularly use Excel to edit CSV files, since it is often easier to edit
these files in Excel's cell-based format as opposed to a plain text editor,
but in many respects Excel is not exactly easy to use with CSV files.
As an example, open a CSV file and make a
change. Now try and shut down
Excel, saving your changes. You will get a series of several dialog boxes,
starting with a "Save As..." dialog, then a "Are you sure you want to
overwrite the file?" dialog, then the "Incompatible features" dialog, then
finally the program exits. This long stream of dialog boxes is pretty
annoying. Hitting "Save" before "Exit" allows one to skip the "Save As..."
dialog, but then you get another "Do you want to save your changes?" dialog
as soon as you try to exit.
Another issue revolves around templates. When opening a CSV file, Excel
seems to ignore default templates stored in XLSTART. This means it is
impossible to add your favorite formatting options to the default template,
so that they are available whenever you open a CSV file. In fact, when
opening a CSV file by double-clicking on it, it causes a problem inside of
Excel, where Excel will always ignore default templates, until you shut down
and restart Excel without double-clicking on a document. For example,
double-click on a CSV file. Then go to "File->New" and create a blank
workbook. The blank workbook will not use the default template stored in
XLSTART. You must shut down and restart Excel to get it to start using the
default template again.
Then there is the double-quote issue. This is more an issue caused by the
fact that there is no universal software standards body, so there is no
universal standard format for CSV files. But essentially, any field in a CSV
file that contains a double-quote or a comma has extra double-quotes placed
around it internally by Excel. These extra quotes can be seen by opening the
CSV file in a program like Notepad. Using double-quotes in this way allows
Excel to have commas inside of a field in a CSV file, which is good, but many
other programs that utilize CSV files do not do this. This makes CSV files
edited in Excel incompatible with many other programs, with no way of making
them compatible short of something like writing a custom Lisp routine to
translate between Microsoft Excel CSV and the "other" CSV format, where
double-quotes are not treated as special characters.
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