Quick hack CSV review tool

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Let’s say you are running a conference, and let’s say your Call for Proposals is open, and is saving people’s talk ideas into a spreadsheet.

I am in this situation. Reviewing those proposals is a pain, because there are large paragraphs of text, and spreadsheets are a terrible way to read them. I did the typical software engineer thing: I spent an hour writing a tool to make reading them easier.

The result is csv_review.py. It’s a terminal program that reads a CSV file (the exported proposals). It displays a row at a time on the screen, wrapping text as needed. It has commands for moving around the rows. It collects comments into a second CSV file. That’s it.

There are probably already better ways to do this. Everyone knows that to get answers from the internet, you don’t ask questions, instead you present wrong answers. More people will correct you than will help you. So this tool is my wrong answer to how to review CFP proposals. Correct me!


Jonah Bishop 1:18 PM on 4 Dec 2018

Any time I see "spreadsheet" in a case like this (and I see it weekly at my workplace), I think to myself "Why not use a database?" Spreadsheets, in my tiny opinion, are almost always the wrong answer to any problem.

If you're running the conference, presumably you're in control of the website (though I could imagine that not being the case). Proposals should simply be stored in a database table that you then could step through with ease.

Ben DeLillo 5:09 PM on 4 Dec 2018

Going from what @Jonah Bishop said, MySQL supports CSV directly. Just create a table in the CSV storage engine and replace the empty file it creates with your one with your data https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/8.0/en/csv-storage-engine.html

Ned Batchelder 5:56 PM on 4 Dec 2018

I appreciate the thoughts, but a database doesn't solve the problem I have: how to read multi-paragraph submissions. And it introduces a new problem, which is, how do people get their proposals into the database? Right now we have a Google form that populates the spreadsheet.

Victor 12:50 AM on 5 Dec 2018

Are there example files available we can use to play around

Victor 4:56 PM on 6 Dec 2018

Never mind, Initially i thought the csv file needed to have a special schema for this to work.

Nicholas Chammas 7:21 PM on 9 Dec 2018

Doesn't Google Forms offer multiple views of submissions? One is the spreadsheet view, but another is the individual responses view, where you can see the full responses roughly as they looked like when they were submitted to the form, individual by individual. So paragraph breaks are preserved, and the responses should be easy to read.

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