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(V)iew (L)arge table. Fast.

Binary installation

Grab the binaries from the releases page and put it in your PATH -- profit!

There are two binaries in the releases: vl and vll

  • vl is the main binary, it takes one or more filenames (or stdin) as the input and outputs the formatted table into stdout
  • vll is a simple wrapper on vl, it's equivalent to vl -z ... | less -SR

Get help

$ vl --help


VLL tries to load a fixed number of lines to calculate the appropriate column width, and then immediately output the formatted table. This makes it particularly suitable for viewing large ascii tables.

VLL guesses the format by the file's extension. If the file has extension ".csv", it is treated as a CSV file, otherwise a TSV file. The latter includes the cases where the input is piped in.

A CSV/TSV file is assumed to strictly follow RFC 4180. If you encounter a parse error, usually it's because the file doesn't follow the standard strictly, (e.g., its use of quotes or escapse sequences doesn't comply with the standard,) in which case the --naive option fixes most problems. If the file complies RFC 4180, VLL escapses special characters like \t, \r or \n in cells.

One of the features I like about VLL is that it displays comments (lines preceded by "#" by default) along with the formatted table. This is especially useful when the CSV file has an informative header, or sometimes when the comments separates the CSV file into sections.

Don't forget that you can always use vl in a pipe chain.

Build from source

First, you need to install Stack.

If you have Stack already, clone this repo, cd into it and run the following command in your shell:

$ make
$ make install

This will build and install two binaries (vl and vll) into ~/.local/bin. Make sure ~/.local/bin is listed under $PATH and you are good to go. Run vll --help in your shell for details.