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On 12/21/2012 04:52 PM, Rich Shepard wrote:
I've been going around in circles on this issue for most of today without
finding the solution. The context:

    I have several large data files provided in .csv format that need to
be edited and have column formats made explicit.

    These files are recognized by LO/Calc as spreadsheets when I open
them and I change the field separator from a tab to a comma. They display
correctly in the spreadsheet.

    I explicitly format text, integer, and floating point columns by
highlighting the column(s) and selecting Format -> Cells and selecting the
appropriate choice.

  The problem comes when I save the explicitly-formatted file: the text
fields are quoted only when they have content, not when they are blank.
This, of course, prevents correctly reading the files into database tables or R data frames. I have tried all sorts of kludges to force Calc to display the .csv dialog box where I can tell it to quote all text fields, but those
cells without content are saved as ,, rather than ,'',.

What do I do so that blank cells in text-formatted columns are quoted in
the saved (or saved-as) .csv file?




In a csv file the field delimiter is usually a comma and to denote what is a string that may contain a comma quotation marks are used. If the cell in the original format was empty or NULL in a database nothing is exported. For example the export from a database might look like this:

1,"text string, test",,,"the last two were NULLs in the database",34
2."another string",3,3,,57

For the exported value to an empty string ("") the original value must be an empty string "" not an empty cell. When importing into a database is it often better to have the equivalent to a NULL value because the each column in the database will have an assigned data type and the empty string will cause an import error if there is data type mismatch. The empty string will cause problems with numeric data.

Jay Lozier

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