MathGroup Archive 2009

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: Reading csv with ;

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg99691] Re: Reading csv with ;
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 06:25:09 -0400 (EDT)

On 5/10/09 at 5:13 AM, georgevw3 at (George Woodrow III) wrote:

>Quite right. IF you know what to look for, the Documentation Center
>points you to the Option "Table", and on that page you will find an
>example that uses FieldSeparators.

Yes, clearly for searching any database it is useful to know
what to search on. The Documentation Center is no different than
any other search system in this respect.

>My mini-rant has to do with finding the right thing to do when you
>don't already have some idea of the answer.

The short answer is with no idea of what the answer is, that is
what you are looking for, you are almost certain not to find it
easily if at all. This is a characteristic of any search system
including the Documentation Center.

>In this example, I would imagine that someone would think: "I have some
>data to import that is just like CSV, except the commas are semicolons.
>What would I do?" It is not obvious to me that you would use the
>"Table" option in Import, and further have to use the "FieldSeparators"
>option as a sub-option to "Table".

Once you define a problem in a certain way, in this example
starting with "CSV" format, it is difficult to think of other
approaches. Your example above could easily have started with
the observation the desired outcome is just like "Table" except
whitespace or tabs are replaced with semicolons. Phrased this
way, the idea of looking at the "Table" format for Import looks
more intuitive.

Or perhaps another way of thinking about this particular issue
would be to see CSV as a specific example of Table, substituting
commas for tabs or whitespace.

>The task is something a beginner might need to do. There should be a
>documented example that shows how to do it that is more accessible,and
>there should be a page for field separators (as plain English words)
>that would have a tutorial about importing text or ASCII data with
>different formats.

Did you try searching for "field separators" in the
Documentation Center? When I do this, the fourth entry links to
the desired page.

But beyond this particular example, what you really seem to be
saying is finding a desired bit of information using the
Documentation Center is often not easy or intuitive. And I
agree. But I believe this is not a specific problem with the way
the Documentation Center is implemented, but a reflection of the
inherent difficulty of searching a large set of things for one
particular thing. That is, there is no simple search method
guaranteed to find what you want and always be "intuitive".

  • Prev by Date: Re: ColorFunction on a linux system (xorg) loses graphics
  • Next by Date: Re: Introducing the Wolfram Mathematica Tutorial Collection
  • Previous by thread: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reading csv with ;
  • Next by thread: Making a user interface