CSV spec and the failure that is MSDN

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Fri Dec 3 16:43:13 EST 2004

Anyone know where I can find the official spec for the CSV formats used 
by Micro$oft Access, Micro$oft Excel, and the the spec used by the rest 
of the world?

All three differ from one another, and according to some Micro$oft has 
changed how CSV is implemented in Excel at least once, maybe twice, so 
it would be good to find historical specs as well.

So far the best I can find is this page:

Nice, but doesn't cover the change, nor Access at all, and if from a 
third party so I have no way to know how current or thorough it is.  At 
least with Micro$oft-published specs I can point customers to the source 
if they have a problem.

Some of the differences include how/whether returns, tabs, commas, and 
quotes are escaped.  For example, some programs output CSV with quotes 
escaped with \q, and others with \", and others with "".  Fun eh?  And 
that's just the beginning.

I've tried looking through MSDN, but everytime I try to use that archaic 
search engine I get more headaches than results.

If any of you know the secret recipe to finding how Microsoft defines 
CSV in its products I'd be much obliged.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Media Corporation
  Rev tools and more: http://www.fourthworld.com/rev

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