column: With oddly satisfying results

I’m going to stick to the C section for a day or two, and hopefully whittle down the disproportionate number of titles I have listed there. I’m not sure why, but it seems that between October of last year and now, I managed to collect 30+ titles in the C section alone. And it hasn’t helped that ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1 kept pulling stuff from outside that band.

column is on the list, and is something I use on a weekly, if not daily basis. Here’s column, in its most daring escapade yet:🙄

2014-07-28-lv-c5551-column

And the attraction should be immediate. If we’re going to talk about tools that improve readability, column needs to be at the top of the list. Even when combined with yesterday’s deluge of colorificated diff tools, column makes things better.

2014-07-27-lv-c5551-wdiff-colordiff-column

It’s not always perfect, but I have a feeling that the escape sequences used to trigger colors might interfere with the final results. No major loss.

The point is that column, by default, and especially when used in conjunction with the -t flag, is going to be a real improvement for scanning lists of data and finding corresponding entries. Keep that in mind next time you’re working with csv files.

column takes very few options, and in general they are only affect how the rows and columns are generated, or determining display width. You won’t find a whole lot of frills with column, even if it does amazing work.

I know what you’re thinking at this point: You’re imagining that a utility as simple and cool as this could only come from one place — coreutils. Surprise: This appears in util-linux in Arch, and bsdutils in Debian.😯O_o Why? IDK. IANADD.😀

3 thoughts on “column: With oddly satisfying results

  1. Sam Stuewe

    Just another perfect example of how helpful `column` can be: `mount`’s output is incredibly difficult to read. But, `mount | column -t` is really beautiful and simple!

    All the best,

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