A CSV file is a way to collect the data from any table so that it can be conveyed as input to another table-oriented application such as a relational database application. Microsoft Excel, a leading spreadsheet or relational database application, can read CSV files. A CSV file is sometimes referred to as a flat file.
In computers, a CSV file contains the different values in a table as a series of ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) text lines which are then organised so that each column value is separated by a comma from the next columns value and each row starts a new line. CSV is one example of a delimited text file, which uses a comma to separate values (many other implementations of CSV allow different seperators such as back or forward slash to be used). However CSV differs from other delimiter separated file formats in using a double quote character around fields that contain reserved characters (such as commas or newlines). The benefit of this approach is that it allows the transfer of data across different applications.
The CSV file format is very simple and supported by almost all spreadsheets and database management systems
Microsoft Excel is a commercial spreadsheet application written and distributed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Pre-2007 versions of Excel use XLS as the primary format for saving files. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. It has been a very widely applied spreadsheet for these platforms, especially since version 5 in 1993, and it has almost completely replaced Lotus 1-2-3 as the industry standard for spreadsheets. Excel forms part of Microsoft Office. The current versions are 2010 for Microsoft Windows and 2011 for Mac OS X.
Microsoft Excel up until 2007 version used a proprietary binary file format called Binary Interchange File Format (BIFF) as its primary format. Used as the basis for XLS files it is a persistence format that supports authoring and manipulating content in workbooks and workbook templates. Most versions of Microsoft Excel can read CSV, DBF, SYLK, DIF, and other legacy formats.