incsv is a tool for quickly interrogating CSV files using SQL and the Ruby programming language.

It works by loading the CSV into an SQLite database and then dropping you into an interactive Ruby shell. You can then use the Sequel database library to perform further exploratory analysis.


incsv can be installed via RubyGems:

$ gem install incsv


The quick version

The following command will drop you into a REPL prompt:

$ incsv console path/to/file.csv

A Sequel connection to the database is stored in a variable called @db. The name of the table is based on the filename of the CSV; so, if your CSV file is called products.csv, then data will be imported into a database table called products.

A quick example:

> @db[:products].select(:name).reverse_order(:price).take(5)
=> [{:name=>"Makeshift battery"},
  {:name=>"clothing iron"},
  {:name=>"toy alien"},
  {:name=>"enhanced targeting card"},
  {:name=>"Giddyup Buttercup"}]

The less-quick version

To use incsv, you essentially just need to point it at a CSV file. It’ll then take care of parsing the CSV, figuring out the nature of the data within it, creating a database and a table, and importing the data.

To perform all of these steps and be given an interactive console once they’re done, you can use the console command.

Let’s imagine we have a CSV file that contains some product information:

$ head -3 products.csv
"Abraxo cleaner",2016-09-25,£21

Here we can see that we have three columns: the product name, which is just a string; the date the product was added, which is an ISO-8601–formatted date; and the price, which is a currency value in dollars.

In my sample data there are 515 products (plus a header row):

$ wc -l products.csv

In order to query this data, we can pass the CSV file to incsv:

$ incsv console products.csv
Found database at products.db
Connection is in @db

Primary table name is products
Columns: _incsv_id, name, date_added, price

First row:
_incsv_id, name, date_added, price
1, Acid, 2013-03-24, 0.38E2

Not sure what to do next? Try this:

It tells us some information about the file, and about the assumptions it has made about the file. We can see that it’s imported the contents of the file into a table called products, and that it’s used the column names from the CSV to name the columns in the database table.

It also shows us the first row, where you might have noticed that the price is in a slightly odd representation. That’s because incsv will look at what type of data seems to be stored in your CSV before importing it. In this case, it knows that the date_added column contains a date, and that the price column contains a currency value. In the former case, that means converting it into an actual SQL date. In the latter case, this means converting it to BigDecimal format (and storing it in the database as DECIMAL(10, 2), so that we don’t either lose any precision by storing the value as a float, or lose the ability to do numerical calculations by storing it as a string.

It then suggests a query for us to run, which might generally be the first thing that you’d want to know about the dataset: how many values are there? We can run it and see:

> @db[:products].count
=> 515

Excellent! It’s imported every one of the products that were in the CSV.

From this point on we can do any kind of analysis of the data that we like; we have all the power of SQLite and Sequel at our fingertips. For example, to get the number of products added each year:

> @db[:products].group_and_count{strftime("%Y", date_added).as(year)}.all
=> [{:year=>"2013", :count=>132}, {:year=>"2014", :count=>123}, {:year=>"2015", :count=>131}, {:year=>"2016", :count=>129}]

Or to get the total value of products added today:

> @db[:products].select{sum(price).as(total_cost)}.where(date_added:
=> {:total_cost=>40}

We can also do processing in Ruby, if there’s anything that’s difficult in pure SQL. Imagine wanting to convert the product names to URL-friendly “slugs”. This is pretty easy in Ruby. Let’s try it out on the top 10 most expensive products:

> @db[:products].select(:name).reverse_order(:price).limit(10).each do |product|
*   puts product[:name].gsub(/\s/, "-").squeeze("-").downcase.gsub(/[^a-z0-9\-]/, "")
* end

Hopefully this illustrates what you can do with incsv!


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.