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Exporting spreadsheet data to MySQL

Submitted by on December 9, 2005 – 2:10 am 2 Comments

The following is a process for migrating spreadsheet data to MySQL database using a Shell script in a Unix environment. To follow this tutorial you must already know how to create MySQL schemas and tables. You must also have basic Unix skills.

Consider the following task:

You have an Excel spreadsheet with a table containing data:

Excel spreadsheet

The first step is to export this data to a character-separated format. The common format is comma-separated CSV file. However, using comma as a field separator is not a good idea because text in your spreadsheet is likely to contain commas. This will make it complicated to parse text.

You need to chose a field separator other than comma. To do so in Windows click Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Customize ->

Excel spreadsheet

In the “List separator” field enter any single character that’s not present in your spreadsheet. Something like @ often works well (unless your data contains e-mail addresses). Click OK twice

In Excel click File -> Save As -> select CSV format:

Excel spreadsheet

Now you have a text file that looks something like this:

First Name@Last Name@Address@City@State@ZIP
Alex@Smith@213 Penn St.@Newark@NJ@21822
William@O'Connor@12 Summer St.@Wilmington@DE@19703
John@Mackin@18 Washington Dr.@Baltimore@MD@21872

Delete the first line of this file containing column headers. Use MySQL Administrator GUI to create a table in your database that would match the structure of this file. Remove all spaces from the column names, make them lower-case, and add unique ID column with auto increment:

Excel spreadsheet

Below is an example of a Shell script that will read your @-separated text.csv file and insert into the MySQL table you just created.

Input file name: text.csv
Database name: database
Table name: table1


LINES=$(cat text.csv | wc -l | awk '{print $1}')
cat text.csv | while read LINE
	first_name=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $1}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")
	last_name=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $2}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")
	address=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $3}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")
	city=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $4}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")
	state=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $5}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")
	zip=$(echo "$LINE" | awk -F'@' '{print $6}' | sed "s+'+\'+g")

	echo "$i of ${LINES}: $first_name $last_name"
	(( i = i + 1 ))


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  • jdubdoubleu7704 says:

    I’ve got data in an Excel spreadsheet with one worksheet, that I want to use to populate a normalized MySQL database with multiple tables. There is no one-to-one mapping of the spreadsheet columns and rows to the multiple tables. Short of cutting and pasting all the data in from Excel to various MySQL tables, or writing a Perl script from scratch, does anyone know a good tool that would help do this, or a sample script I could customize for my own needs?

  • Kobe says:

    I am stupid about computers. I had a spreadsheet program with Windows 98 and XP. I found a word processing thing with Wordpad, but cannot seem to find anything concerning spreadsheets. Do I need to buy something else to get a spreadsheet program/

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