Editing tabular data [was: PEP8 79 char max]

Skip Montanaro skip at pobox.com
Wed Jul 31 21:35:24 CEST 2013


>> My guess is it would be more foolproof to edit that stuff with a
>> spreadsheet.
>
> Many years ago, I worked with somebody who used a spreadsheet like
> that.

I really love Emacs, however...  One of the traders here where I work
(who shall not be named) had a space-delimited data file with hundreds
of rows and 50 or so columns.  I could never get him to edit it in any
kind of spreadsheet or put it in a database (expecting him to master
SQL would have been pointless - I would have had to write a GUI tool
for him).  He always modified it in Emacs, and would delete columns,
add extra spaces, fragmentary rows, etc.  He'd edit this file late at
night, the automated processes the next morning would crap out, and I
would scramble to try and find and fix the problem before the market
opened.

This is clearly a case where choosing the proper tool is important.  I
agree that using a spreadsheet to edit a 3x5 CSV file is likely
overkill (might just as well use Notepad or TextEdit), but tabular
data are tabular data, no matter how they might be delimited, and if
there are many of those little data critters, there are better tools
than a text editor (or Python IDE) for maintaining them.

Skip



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