File Extension CSV
File extension CSV is most commonly used by Comma-Separated Value files, which are used extensively by spreadsheet and database applications to transfer data. These may also be referred to as Comma-Separated Variable files. CSV files are also used by Boso View Express Train Simulator to store railway information, though these are far less common.
Comma-Separated Value CSV files contain tabular data in plaintext, with each new line in the file representing an individual record or table row. Within a single record are fields which represent data for each column in the table. These are separated by commas, which allow spreadsheet or database applications to distinguish between data items. These can then be imported to provide a complete table or database structure. In the event that a comma is required within a data item, such as in a product description, for instance, it must be enclosed in another character so that the software importing the CSV is aware not to regard the comma that follows as an end-of-field marker. Double quotes are typically used for this purpose in CSV files, whilst other delimited files tend to use escape characters such as a backslash.
Comma-Separated Value lists predated personal computers, and was originally used in the days of punched cards as these made entering data easier and less error-prone. Now, practically every spreadsheet and database application is capable of handling CSV files, as its widespread support and simplistic model make it an ideal format for the transfer of data between applications. CSV files are what as known as delimited files, meaning their contents are separated by a character, which in this case is a comma. Most applications also support the use of alternative delimiting characters, which can be defined when data is imported or exported.
CSV files can be opened by almost any spreadsheet or database application. Examples of these include Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, Lotus Symphony and Microsoft Access. Data can also be imported directly into databases such as MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server. As data is stored in plaintext, it is also possible to open and edit CSV files in any text editor.