Commas? We don't need no steenking commas!* (Data Loader and tab-delimited files)

posted May 17, 2011, 9:03 AM by Ezra Kenigsberg   [ updated Apr 26, 2012, 11:21 AM ]

#DataTipOfTheDay 2011-05-17

Q: "Does Data Loader accept non-CSV file formats?"

A: Yes: Data Loader also accepts tab-delimited files.

It's kind of weird; there's a comment in the Data Loader documentation that says "Note: If commas are not appropriate for your locale, use a tab or other delimiter", but provides no further explanation. There isn't any setting in Data Loader that prompts us for a delimiter.

But even though it's obscure, it works--and now it can be told!** Data Loader v21.00.4 also accepts tab-delimited files.
  • When reading a tab-delimited file, DL accepts double-quotationmark text delimiters (you only need the text qualifiers around those field values with embedded hard returns).
  • For UI ease, name your file with a CSV extension (Data Loader's Choose File dialog doesn't see files with other extensions unless you do some typing).
So there you have it. Data Loader accepts two different kinds of delimiters (commas and tabs) and one kind of text qualifier (a double-quotationmark).

* Read more about "X? We don't need no stinking X!" here:

** That reminds me: when I was interning in Washington, DC in the summer of '91, I appeared on Geraldo Rivera's brief-lived newsmagazine show, "Now It Can Be Told". Underaged babyface that I was, I carried a hidden camera, then walked into three establishments whose liquor licenses were under threat of suspension and ordered a drink. One of them served me without carding.

Is this at all interesting? No? oh well.