Managing data inside a CSV file is surprisingly simple thanks to the Import-CSV CmdLet. I’m often presented with data from different sources in a variety of formats, and by and large the common format used for data extracts is CSV. Regardless of the system that generates the content, we can all render and consume data using this simple and effective format.
You will find the Microsoft TechNet documentation here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd347665.aspx
The file that we will use as our example is one that contains a username, email address, street address, postal code (zip code for my US friends) and a phone number. This is what the file would look like for our sample which will be named UserList.CSV:
ewright,Eric Wright,email@example.com,123 Any Street,L4C 1N8,555-1212
jvoigt,Jens Voigt,firstname.lastname@example.org,456 Any Street,L4C 1N8,555-3456
ppocklington,Peter Pocklington,email@example.com,890 Back Street,M2H 4Y1,555-9876
Note that there is a header row which is one of the most important aspects for our script. If the file that you want to use does not have a header row, we can add one. I’ll go into that more deeply in an upcoming article.
What we do first is to bring the file into a variable as an array. This is done by creating a variable which we will call $userobjects and assigning it a value using the Import-CSV CmdLet. Let’s assume that you have the import file in a folder X:\ImportData\
$userobjects = Import-CSV x:\ImportData\UserList.CSV
No really, it’s just that simple. Now you have an array variable which you can use to access the data in a number of ways. Let’s look at a couple of methods to pick out data:
Display all instances in the array:
Display the first element in the array:
Ok, hold on a second. Why did we use 0 (zero) to pull the first record? This is a done because when an array is populated, the first element is in position 0. For a 2 dimensional array, the first element is 0,0 rather than 1,1 which can be a source of confusion.
The purpose of the article was to talk about headers so now you will see where that comes into play. We have drawn out the different elements inside the array, so now we can use the headers to be able to gather the content of each element in a meaningful way. Let’s say that we want to see the email address of the first element.
It’s so dangerously simple really. Because the array was imported with the Import-CSV, the header row was assigned to columns just as we would see it inside a spreadsheet program. Just think of it as element[instance].property which means you can select any assigned property (column header) from any instance of the element.
We can also do things such as count the elements which can be a handy piece of information to have:
In part 2 we will expand our script to loop through the elements and show you different ways that we can manage our data from the CSV file and begin to perform other operations using the contents.