USING IRONXL

How to Convert CSV File Into List in C#

Updated January 27, 2024
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In this tutorial for beginners, we are going to see how to read CSV files into a list in C# using the IronXL library. Well, this is one of the most basic things that you need to know in any programming language since CSV files are a very common way to store data and transfer it from one system or application to another. We'll cover everything from setting up your project to parsing CSV files effectively.

How to Convert CSV File into List in C#

  1. Create a C# Console Project in Visual Studio.
  2. Install the C# CSV Library using NuGet Package Manager.
  3. Load the CSV file using the WorkBook.LoadCSV method.
  4. Read data values from the file and populate the list.
  5. Print the list on the console.

Setting up Your Project

Step 1: Creating a New C# Project

  1. Open Visual Studio: Start Visual Studio on your computer.
  2. Create a New Project: Click on "Create a new project". This opens a window where you can select the project type.
  3. Select Project Type: Choose "Console App (.NET Core)" as your project type for simplicity.
  4. Name Your Project: Name your project CSVFileReader.
  5. Choose Location: Select a suitable location on your device to save this project.
  6. Generate the Project: Click "Create" to initialize your new C# project.

Step 2: Installing the IronXL Library

  1. Open NuGet Package Manager: In Visual Studio, go to the "Tools" menu, then select "NuGet Package Manager" and choose "Manage NuGet Packages for Solution...".
  2. Browse for IronXL: Click on the "Browse" tab and search for "IronXL.Excel."

    How to Convert CSV File Into List in C#: Figure 1 - IronXL

  3. Install IronXL: Find the IronXL package in the search results, select it, and click "Install." Ensure you agree to any license agreements and review the changes.
  4. Check Installation: After installation, you should see IronXL referenced in your project's references.

Now, your CSVFileReader project is set up with the IronXL library, and you're ready to start reading and processing CSV files in C#. This setup forms the foundation for the CSV reading tasks we'll undertake in the subsequent sections of this tutorial.

Parsing and Processing CSV Files in C#

With the project set up and the IronXL library installed, let's focus on parsing and processing CSV files. We'll be working within the Program.cs file, which is automatically generated in your CSVFileReader project.

Step 1: Specifying the File Path

Before we can read any data, we need to know where our CSV file is located. Define a variable in the Main method to store the file path.

string filename = "csvfile.csv"; // Replace with your actual file path
string filename = "csvfile.csv"; // Replace with your actual file path
Dim filename As String = "csvfile.csv" ' Replace with your actual file path
VB   C#

Step 2: Loading the CSV File

IronXL makes it straightforward to load a CSV file. Use the WorkBook.LoadCSV method to read the CSV file into a WorkBook object.

var csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename);
var csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename);
Dim csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename)
VB   C#

Step 3: Defining a Data Structure

Create a class that represents the data structure in your CSV file. For instance, if your CSV contains information about people, define a Person class like this:

public class Person
{
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public int Age { get; set; }
}
public class Person
{
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public int Age { get; set; }
}
Public Class Person
	Public Property Name() As String
	Public Property Age() As Integer
End Class
VB   C#

Step 4: Parsing CSV Data

In this step, we will parse the CSV file and populate a List<Person> with the data. We're using IronXL to handle the CSV reading, and the key is to correctly process each row or var line of the CSV, accounting for headers and any potential empty rows. Here's a detailed breakdown of the code:

List<Person> people = new List<Person>();
bool isFirstRow = true; // Add a flag to check for the first row
foreach (var row in csv.WorkSheets [0].Rows)
{
    if (isFirstRow)
    {
        isFirstRow = false; // Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
        continue;
    }
    if (row.IsEmpty) continue; // Skip empty rows
    var cells = row.ToArray();
    var person = new Person()
    {
        Name = cells [0].StringValue,
        Age = int.Parse(cells [1].StringValue) // Ensure this is a numeric value
    };
    people.Add(person);
}
List<Person> people = new List<Person>();
bool isFirstRow = true; // Add a flag to check for the first row
foreach (var row in csv.WorkSheets [0].Rows)
{
    if (isFirstRow)
    {
        isFirstRow = false; // Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
        continue;
    }
    if (row.IsEmpty) continue; // Skip empty rows
    var cells = row.ToArray();
    var person = new Person()
    {
        Name = cells [0].StringValue,
        Age = int.Parse(cells [1].StringValue) // Ensure this is a numeric value
    };
    people.Add(person);
}
Dim people As New List(Of Person)()
Dim isFirstRow As Boolean = True ' Add a flag to check for the first row
For Each row In csv.WorkSheets (0).Rows
	If isFirstRow Then
		isFirstRow = False ' Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
		Continue For
	End If
	If row.IsEmpty Then
		Continue For ' Skip empty rows
	End If
	Dim cells = row.ToArray()
	Dim person As New Person() With {
		.Name = cells (0).StringValue,
		.Age = Integer.Parse(cells (1).StringValue)
	}
	people.Add(person)
Next row
VB   C#

In this parsing process, we first initialize a List<Person> to store the parsed data and use a boolean flag isFirstRow to skip the CSV file's header row. The foreach loop iterates through each row of the CSV file. During the first iteration, the header row is identified and skipped, ensuring that only data rows are processed. We then check each row to ensure it's not empty using row.IsEmpty. This step is critical to avoid parsing errors with empty lines.

For each data row, we convert the row into an array of cells (row.ToArray()) and then create a Person object with this data. It’s crucial to correctly analyze and convert data types, such as converting the 'Age' string to an integer. The parsed Person object is then added to our people list. This approach ensures that only valid data rows are processed and stored, effectively handling potential issues like non-numeric strings in numeric columns or unexpected empty rows.

Step 5: Displaying the Data

After parsing the CSV data into our List<Person>, the next important step is to display and verify the data. This not only helps ensure that our parsing was successful but also allows us to observe the output and conduct a quick data quality check. Here's how you can implement this:

foreach (var person in people)
{
    Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}");
}
foreach (var person in people)
{
    Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}");
}
For Each person In people
	Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}")
Next person
VB   C#

Here is the complete Program.cs code:

using IronXL;

public class Person
{
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public int Age { get; set; }
}

class Program
{
    static void Main(string [] args)
    {
        string filename = @"C:\Users\tayya\Downloads\sample_data.csv"; // Replace with your actual file path
        var csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename);
        List<Person> people = new List<Person>();
        bool isFirstRow = true; // Add a flag to check for the first row
        foreach (var row in csv.WorkSheets [0].Rows)
        {
            if (isFirstRow)
            {
                isFirstRow = false; // Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
                continue;
            }
            if (row.IsEmpty) continue; // Skip empty rows
            var cells = row.ToArray();
            var person = new Person()
            {
                Name = cells [0].StringValue,
                Age = int.Parse(cells [1].StringValue) // Ensure this is a numeric value
            };
            people.Add(person);
        }
        foreach (var person in people)
        {
            Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}");
        }
    }
}
using IronXL;

public class Person
{
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public int Age { get; set; }
}

class Program
{
    static void Main(string [] args)
    {
        string filename = @"C:\Users\tayya\Downloads\sample_data.csv"; // Replace with your actual file path
        var csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename);
        List<Person> people = new List<Person>();
        bool isFirstRow = true; // Add a flag to check for the first row
        foreach (var row in csv.WorkSheets [0].Rows)
        {
            if (isFirstRow)
            {
                isFirstRow = false; // Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
                continue;
            }
            if (row.IsEmpty) continue; // Skip empty rows
            var cells = row.ToArray();
            var person = new Person()
            {
                Name = cells [0].StringValue,
                Age = int.Parse(cells [1].StringValue) // Ensure this is a numeric value
            };
            people.Add(person);
        }
        foreach (var person in people)
        {
            Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}");
        }
    }
}
Imports IronXL

Public Class Person
	Public Property Name() As String
	Public Property Age() As Integer
End Class

Friend Class Program
	Shared Sub Main(ByVal args() As String)
		Dim filename As String = "C:\Users\tayya\Downloads\sample_data.csv" ' Replace with your actual file path
		Dim csv = WorkBook.LoadCSV(filename)
		Dim people As New List(Of Person)()
		Dim isFirstRow As Boolean = True ' Add a flag to check for the first row
		For Each row In csv.WorkSheets (0).Rows
			If isFirstRow Then
				isFirstRow = False ' Set the flag to false after skipping the first row
				Continue For
			End If
			If row.IsEmpty Then
				Continue For ' Skip empty rows
			End If
			Dim cells = row.ToArray()
			Dim person As New Person() With {
				.Name = cells (0).StringValue,
				.Age = Integer.Parse(cells (1).StringValue)
			}
			people.Add(person)
		Next row
		For Each person In people
			Console.WriteLine($"Name: {person.Name}, Age: {person.Age}")
		Next person
	End Sub
End Class
VB   C#

Output of the Code

When you run the file, it will display the data of the list in the console:

How to Convert CSV File Into List in C#: Figure 2 - List Output

Handling Different Data Types

When handling various data types in a CSV file, it's important to tailor the parsing logic to the specific type of each data column. In the Person class example, while the Name is a string and can be directly assigned using StringValue, numeric fields like Age require conversion from string to integer using Int32.Parse or Convert.ToInt32. This is essential to avoid type mismatch errors.

For more complex data types, such as dates, use DateTime.Parse to convert string representations of dates into DateTime objects. It's important to be aware of the date format used in your CSV file and ensure that it matches the expected format in your code. Inconsistent date formats can lead to parsing errors or incorrect data interpretation.

Conclusion

You have just learned how to read, parse, and display the data of a CSV file using IronXL in C#. This approach can be employed on different types of data structures and file formats. Thus, this represents an overall useful skill for every developer out there reaching out to C# as their main language of choice.

IronXL offers a free trial for users to experience its features. Once the trial period concludes, the licensing for IronXL begins at a starting price of $599.

Keep in mind that exceptions and edge cases have to be dealt with for writing more robust code, especially while managing different data types and using large files. Keep experimenting and exploring more features of IronXL to enhance processing your data in C#. Happy coding!

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