Software Open Access

detect-delimiter software project

McNamara, Timothy S

Data sharing and research collaboration is hindered when messy data is released. Despite this, it still exists. detect-delimiter aims to provide tools with an option for inspecting the header of a text file and checking the actual delimiter used, rather than blindly believing the file extension.


The detect_delimiter module exposes the detect() functinon, which takes a str as input and returns a delimiter.

>>> from detect_delimiter import detect
>>> detect("looks|like|the vertical bar\n is|the|delimiter\n")

When detect() doesn't know, it returns None:

>>> text = "not really any delimiters in here.\nthis is just text.\n"
>>> detect()

It's possible to provide a default, which will be used in that case:

>>> detect(text, default=',')

By default, detect() will prevent avoid checking alpha-numeric characters and the period/full stop character ("."). This can be adjusted via the blacklist parameter.

If you believe that you know the delimiter, it's possible to provide a list of possible delimiters to check for via the whitelist parameter. If you don't provide a value, [',', ';', ':', '|', '\t'] will be checked.

This Python package can also be installed via "pip": "pip install detect-delimiter".
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