I have a database which tracks sales of widgets by serial number. Users enter purchaser data and quantity, and scan each widget into a custom client program. They then finalize the order. This all works flawlessly.
Some customers want an Excel-compatible spreadsheet of the widgets they have purchased. We generate this with a PHP script which queries the database and outputs the result as a CSV with the store name and associated data. This works perfectly well too.
When opened in a text editor such as Notepad or vi, the file looks like this:
"Account Number","Store Name","S1","S2","S3","Widget Type","Date" "4173","SpeedyCorp","268435459705526269","","268435459705526269","848 Model Widget","2011-01-17"
As you can see, the serial numbers are present (in this case twice, not all secondary serials are the same) and are long strings of numbers. When this file is opened in Excel, the result becomes:
Account Number Store Name S1 S2 S3 Widget Type Date 4173 SpeedyCorp 2.68435E+17 2.68435E+17 848 Model Widget 2011-01-17
As you may have observed, the serial numbers are enclosed by double quotes. Excel does not seem to respect text qualifiers in .csv files. When importing these files into Access, we have zero difficulty. When opening them as text, no trouble at all. But Excel, without fail, converts these files into useless garbage. Trying to instruct end users in the art of opening a CSV file with a non-default application is becoming, shall we say, tiresome. Is there hope? Is there a setting I've been unable to find? This seems to be the case with Excel 2003, 2007, and 2010.