As I investigate data export options from my todo and self tracking app Tasks & Measures I wanted to get a read on the data export format that is going to be most useful for you guys

Tasks and measures is a todo list app with logging so I have tons of records of the form

10/21/13 Spent 2 hours Mowing Lawn
10/21/13 Spent 1 hour Running
10/21/13 Spent .5 hours Doing Dishes

Its also a self tracking app so I’ve got a bunch more records of the form

3/1/13 Weight 165lbs
3/2/13 Mile Time 9 minutes
3/7/13 Weight 172lbs

And of course there are a whole bunch of fields just associated with the Tasks themselves (one task can be completed multiple times each time creating a log entry)

Anyway the whole thing is a big database so what I’d like to do is export the records as a JSON file, because its flexible and easy and in one file I can capture all the data elements and their inter-relationships

But is CSV a lower bar to integration to the tools the community is currently aggregating data with ? If so I could export one CSV per database table e.g.

One CSV for the list of tasks,
one for the task history,
one for the measurement history
etc …


I prefer JSON if I am writing code anyway (e.g. because the data is accessed through a Web API), and I’d end up having to do extra work parsing data that was squashed into single cells, or collecting data that was spread across several files.

There do not seem to be popular Excel-like tools for dealing with JSON, so JSON is a non-starter for most people.

I’m actually just working on adding CSV export to https://zenobase.com/ :slight_smile:

I’m going to pipe up here and add my voice as a non-developer.

I think you have to think really hard about what you want to offer all types of users. I tend to think that a CSV file is the most appropriate to offer as an export option if you’re only going to support one. Why? As Eric mentioned it’s a non-proprietary format that is easily usable in a variety of systems like spreadsheet programs. It allows people to easily make visualizations, transformations, and combine data with other sources.

Is there a reason you wouldn’t offer a way to get the data in both JSON and CSV?

Mostly just dev time :slight_smile:

There are tools around now like json to csv that allows you to open JSON in a spreadsheet but yes, ideally it would be better to offer both.