I'm in a situation where I want to be able to take SQL query results from SQuirreL and paste them as ascii text into various forms and reports. With SQuirreL, I can export results as Excel or a CSV, but I'd like to eventually format the results in something like this format;

|  header | header | header|
|  value  | value  | value |

I would be amazed if this hasn't been done before, but my searches for this have come up empty.


Note that I saw https://stackoverflow.com/questions/10518207/tool-to-convert-csv-data-to-stackoverflow-friendly-text-only-table , but those are all web site solutions. I'd like something I can run on the command line.

  • Does this boil down to converting csv to this graphical box format? Do you know in advance how many columns there will be?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Sep 19, 2016 at 23:41
  • No, I want a general solution, so it will have to determine max value in each column also. I've started to step through a Perl solution using Text::CSV, but I'm surprised a command-line (Perl?) solution hasn't been implemented already. Sep 20, 2016 at 0:58
  • What do you mean by "as a breadcrumb"? The first looks like exactly what I need, although the the documentation is very hard to understand. Sep 20, 2016 at 15:15
  • just that it's a comment and not an Answer
    – Jeff Schaller
    Sep 20, 2016 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


I ended up looking at three possible solutions, all in Perl.

All three use Text::CSV as a base, to read in the CSV.

Before I settled on a prepared Table package, I just tried doing it manually. This was straightforward, but a little tedious. I had to manually determine max field lengths and draw the required pieces. Even so, a well-spaced Perl script doing this only took 78 lines.

I then looked at the Perl Text::Table package, at http://search.cpan.org/~shlomif/Text-Table-1.131/lib/Text/Table.pm . From a very quick look, this looked like what I needed. However, what I discovered is that I really didn't understand the documentation, and the examples didn't help. I gave up on this.

I then discovered Text::ASCIITable, at http://search.cpan.org/~lunatic/Text-ASCIITable-0.20/lib/Text/ASCIITable.pm . There were enough examples showing what I needed to do so that it was easy to build the script I needed. The only problem I ran into was that the "draw()" method didn't appear to work (did nothing), although just "print $table" worked fine. The resulting solution was only 31 lines long.

This is the entire script:

#! /bin/perl
use strict;
use Text::CSV;
use Text::ASCIITable;

my $csv = Text::CSV->new();
my $filename = shift @ARGV;
my $fh;
if (defined $filename) {
    open $fh, "<$filename";
else {
    $fh = *STDIN;

my $asciitable  = Text::ASCIITable->new();
$asciitable->setOptions('reportErrors', 1);

my $firstRow = $csv->getline($fh);
my @firstRowFields = @$firstRow;
my $numColumns = $#firstRowFields + 1;


while (my $row = $csv->getline($fh)) {

print $asciitable;


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