tabview: csv files have never been cooler

Sometimes I find a utility so cool and obvious that I spend a few hours intentionally complicating life, just to watch it untangle things.

For example, I wrestled for about 10 minutes to come up with this …


just so I could watch tabview turn it into this:

2014-05-15-6m47421-tabview-02 2014-05-15-6m47421-tabview-03

(Thanks to rig for supplying the phony address book data.) tabview reads csv files (although as you can see, they don’t need a .csv extension) and drops them into a spreadsheet-ish arrangement for viewing purposes.

And that’s where it stops. No printing, no editing, no format conversion. Just view, simple sort by column, searching, primitive bookmarking, and maybe a highlighted header row.

That’s what I love about it most: tabview takes the tedious chore of skimming through csv files, then simplifies it, adds fundamental controls and options, and then knows enough not to pollute that genius with frills and foppery.

I won’t call it “perfect,” mostly because that word gets thrown around too much on this blog. It is possible to make it crash; I did it more than once trying to navigate and view cells on a super-large file.

And it also has a small flub in the aforementioned header row feature: The header data isn’t “pulled” from the data array, which means it appears twice in a row when you first open a file, and then gets mixed in with the other data if you sort the rows in any way.

And I don’t see where it’s possible to revert to the original data order, after you sort.

But to be honest, tabview is pretty much feature-complete for me. If it went any further in any direction, I’d lose interest. Do one thing. Do it well. Don’t drag my system down. Points are awarded for style.

Here’s a coveted K.Mandla gold star for tabview: ⭐ 😉

11 thoughts on “tabview: csv files have never been cooler

  1. Theodore

    It’s not perfect also because I don’t see the part where you can “slice” the csv or the output to spit it to stdout, to have it processed by a command. Oh well it’s csv so I suppose that a lot other programs do that… Very very cool though!

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I think I understand … you want it to manipulate the data and send certain fields to stdout? I hadn’t thought of that.

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  5. Scott Hansen

    Thanks for the nice review! I just found it today. If you were having crashing problems with a large file, would you by chance be able to replicate that and either send me an email or open a github issue? Make sure to update first, because today I fixed a crash caused by newlines in a cell.


    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Sure, Scott. I’ve come back to use tabview more than once; next time I need it I’ll try to make it crash again. Cheers! 🙂

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