Cool File Viewer

As part of our effort around product data feeds, we get a lot of delimited text files of varying size and content delivered on a daily basis.  Previously, we primarily used Calc to view these files, since it has a fairly flexible text import facility and can deal with CSV files pretty well.  For some of the larger files it could take minutes to open and more alarmingly minutes to close, and this was placing major time constraints when a large number of new files came in and needed evaluation.

A survey around the web showed a few different approaches to dealing with delimited files.  Most involved configuring a desktop database like MS Access or a local install of MySQL to import the file, but that would involve creating a table and running a loader.  Really all we want to do is view the file and see that the important fields are being filled in and that the values are not abusive of the column semantics.  Other approaches mirrored our own, using or MS Excel as a viewer; there were also a few specialized tools to open delimited files but not spreadsheets.  Having tried a couple of these, they didn’t impress with their speed or usability.

Our answer came from halfway around the world, in New Zealand.  Kiwi Log Viewer, a tool designed to view web server logs on Windows, could open up tab delimited files in an incremental fashion.  This provided a grid view of the file in a really speedy manner.  The problem is that most of our files are pipe delimited, and Windows isn’t so friendly at doing ‘sed’ on a file before passing it into a program.  Seeing that we were 90% of the way to what we wanted, we wrote to their support line and sure enough they’ve added a configurable delimiter to the features of their next version, currently available in beta.  While we’re big Open Source fans here, a responsive software company that cares about their curstomers is the next best thing.  If you’re looking for a good program to view delimited files or log files on Windows, check them out.  There is a free (as in beer) version as well if you want to try it first.

One Comment

  1. Tom Darvis says:

    I too was looking for a tool that can quickly open delimited files. I also needed the tool to extract parts of the file based on some simple conditions. After some searching around I found a program called Delimit ( It’s easy to use, very fast, opens many different types of delimited files (custom ones too), and quickly extracts parts of the file based on user defined conditions. What use to be a struggle or took ages to do, I just now plow through with Delimit.