Convert a CSV to a Dictionary in Python

Preface

I’m a Network Engineer learning Python, and these are purely my notes. I’m not an expert by any means. Feel free to use any of these examples and improve upon them. Feel free to call me out where things can be done better.

Onward

I have a CSV full of device-specific variables that I need to use in a script built for generating network device configurations. For example:

devicess

One way I figured out how to do this is to create a list of dictionaries. Think of the list as the row containing the values, and the dictionary as the column. The column headers would be used as the keys.

Hop into the Python interpreter. We’ll import the csv module.

>>> import csv

Next, I’ll create a variable called “reader” which does the following:

  • Calls the csv.DictReader function, which tells the interpreter to read the CSV as a dictionary.
  • Specify the file to be opened, and use the ‘rb’ method meaning “read binary”
>>> reader = csv.DictReader(open('device-specifics.csv', 'rb'))

Now, create an empty list:

>>> dict_list = []

Lastly we’ll look at each line in “reader” and append the output to our list. Remember, we opened the CSV using the DictReader method, so each line we read should be a dictionary.

>>> for line in reader:
...     dict_list.append(line)
... 

Let’s check out the output

>>> dict_list
[{'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '06Tcqh7WEDeYMDz7F8iA', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.2', '$STR_NUM': '1', '$STR_NET': '10.163.1', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.1'}, {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'CS7sXm5LWDyZE554l4Ga', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.3', '$STR_NUM': '2', '$STR_NET': '10.163.2', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.2'}, {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'YdyQ85ThUvUgssxaUc2l', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.4', '$STR_NUM': '3', '$STR_NET': '10.163.3', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.3'}, {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'orZG0TKrqy098FilZaT2', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.5', '$STR_NUM': '4', '$STR_NET': '10.163.4', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.4'}, {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'sAvyto9yhXWZm41mijt8', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.6', '$STR_NUM': '5', '$STR_NET': '10.163.5', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.5'}, {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '1xQVsXc94T5b0miSydg2', '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.7', '$STR_NUM': '6', '$STR_NET': '10.163.6', '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.6'}]

Yikes, that’s hard to see. I’ll pretty print it instead:

>>> import pprint
>>> pprint.pprint(dict_list)
[{'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '06Tcqh7WEDeYMDz7F8iA',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.1',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.1',
  '$STR_NUM': '1',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.2'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'CS7sXm5LWDyZE554l4Ga',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.2',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.2',
  '$STR_NUM': '2',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.3'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'YdyQ85ThUvUgssxaUc2l',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.3',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.3',
  '$STR_NUM': '3',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.4'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'orZG0TKrqy098FilZaT2',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.4',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.4',
  '$STR_NUM': '4',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.5'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'sAvyto9yhXWZm41mijt8',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.5',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.5',
  '$STR_NUM': '5',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.6'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '1xQVsXc94T5b0miSydg2',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.6',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.6',
  '$STR_NUM': '6',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.7'}]

As you can see, we have a list that contains 6 dictionaries, each with their respective key/value pairs. Woot!

Example in a script, using this as a function

This script will take in an arguement (your csv file) as sys.argv and print out the translated list of dictionaries

#!/usr/bin/env python

import csv
import sys
import pprint

# Function to convert a csv file to a list of dictionaries.  Takes in one variable called "variables_file"

def csv_dict_list(variables_file):
	
	# Open variable-based csv, iterate over the rows and map values to a list of dictionaries containing key/value pairs

	reader = csv.DictReader(open(variables_file, 'rb'))
	dict_list = []
	for line in reader:
		dict_list.append(line)
	return dict_list

# Calls the csv_dict_list function, passing the named csv

device_values = csv_dict_list(sys.argv[1])

# Prints the results nice and pretty like

pprint.pprint(device_values)

Test it out, passing in the argument device-specifics.csv

$ ./csv_dict_list.py device-specifics.csv
[{'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '06Tcqh7WEDeYMDz7F8iA',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.1',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.1',
  '$STR_NUM': '1',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.2'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'CS7sXm5LWDyZE554l4Ga',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.2',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.2',
  '$STR_NUM': '2',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.3'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'YdyQ85ThUvUgssxaUc2l',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.3',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.3',
  '$STR_NUM': '3',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.4'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'orZG0TKrqy098FilZaT2',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.4',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.4',
  '$STR_NUM': '4',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.5'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': 'sAvyto9yhXWZm41mijt8',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.5',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.5',
  '$STR_NUM': '5',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.6'},
 {'$STR_CRYPTO_KEY': '1xQVsXc94T5b0miSydg2',
  '$STR_LOOP': '10.255.192.6',
  '$STR_NET': '10.163.6',
  '$STR_NUM': '6',
  '$TUN_IP': '10.255.140.7'}]

2 comments

  1. thanks for sharing knowledge.

    I am also new to python but understand the concepts and programming style.

    trying the example below but have error below.

    #!/usr/bin/env python

    import csv
    import sys
    import pprint

    # Function to convert a csv file to a list of dictionaries. Takes in one variable called “variables_file”

    def csv_dict_list(dataset):

    # Open variable-based csv, iterate over the rows and map values to a list of dictionaries containing key/value pairs

    reader = csv.DictReader(open(‘C:/Users/tug02471/Documents/Backup-Aug16/MyPython/Python/dataset’,’rb’))
    dict_list = []
    for line in reader:
    dict_list.append(line)
    return dict_list

    # Calls the csv_dict_list function, passing the named csv

    student_values = csv_dict_list(sys.argv[1])

    # Prints the results nice and pretty like

    pprint.pprint(student_values)

    No TUID TERM SUBJCRSE CRHR
    1 911207292 200803 MATH1021 4
    2 911209523 201136 BIOL1012 4
    3 911281933 200903 MATH1022 4
    4 100200394 201636 MATH1042 3
    5 200400534 201603 BIOL2012 4
    6 300500657 201636 BIOL2013 4

    and i keep getting

    >>> student_values = csv_dict_list(sys.argv[1])
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “”, line 1, in
    IndexError: list index out of range
    >>>

    1. I think the issue here is you’re trying to run this in the Python interpreter, but sys.argv would be used if you were to run this outside of it. Instead, try doing this and let me know if it works for you:

      student_values = csv_dict_list(reader)

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