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Formatting Tables in Common Lisp

Motivation

I’ve created a small library to format data in a tabular form, I wanted something like this for a quite some time while working on a data-heavy project.

How To Use It

Seisei (the library name) is super small, it only export a single function called format-table.

It expects the output stream, and the data.

* (seisei:format-table t
    '(("X" income 50.0 "2024-05-18T00:00:00")
      ("Y" income 25.0 "2024-04-18T01:00:00"))
COL1 | COL2   | COL3 | COL4
X    | INCOME | 50.0 | 2024-05-18T00:00:00
Y    | INCOME | 25.0 | 2024-04-18T00:00:00

The data is expected to be a list of lists, each element in the lists will become a column.

Optional Parameters

There are a few optional parameters to change the behavior of the format-table function.

Column Labels

The :column-label parameter allows us to specify a label for each column in the table.

It expects a list of strings, the first string will label the first column, and so on.

* (defparameter +data+
    '(("X" income 50.0 "2024-05-18T00:00:00"))
      ("Y" income 25.0 "2024-04-18T00:00:00"))
+DATA+
* (seisei:format-table t +data+
    :column-label '("Description" "Type" "Amount" "Date"))
Description | Type   | Amount | Date
X           | INCOME | 50.0   | 2024-05-18T00:00:00
Y           | INCOME | 25.0   | 2024-04-18T00:00:00

Column Alignment

The :column-align parameter allows us to specify how to align each column in the table.

There are three possible alignment options, left-aligned, right-aligned, or center-aligned, these are defined in a package constant which we can use when calling format-table.

* (defparameter +data+
    '(("X" income 50.0 "2024-05-18T00:00:00"))
      ("Y" income 25.0 "2024-04-18T00:00:00"))
+DATA+
* (seisei:format-table t +data+
    :column-label '("Description" "Type" "Amount" "Date")
    :column-align '(:left :left :right :left))
Description | Type   | Amount | Date
X           | INCOME |   50.0 | 2024-05-18T00:00:00
Y           | INCOME |   25.0 | 2024-04-18T00:00:00

Now we see that the third column is aligned to the right while the other ones are aligned to the left.

Separator

By default, format-table uses the string "|" as the column separator.

We can override that by providing our own string to be used instead, using the :separator parameter.

* (defparameter +data+
    '(("X" income 50.0 "2024-05-18T00:00:00"))
      ("Y" income 25.0 "2024-04-18T00:00:00"))
+DATA+
* (seisei:format-table t +data+
    :column-label '("Description" "Type" "Amount" "Date")
    :column-align '(:left :left :right :left)
    :separator "@")
Description @ Type   @ Amount @ Date
X           @ INCOME @   50.0 @ 2024-05-18T00:00:00
Y           @ INCOME @   25.0 @ 2024-04-18T00:00:00

Now we see that each column is separated by the “@” string instead of the “|” default one.

Source Code

The source-code is available at this repository.

format-table function provides a compreehenvisve documentation string which can be accessed so if in doubt you can always use the documentation function to get more information and examples on how to use it:

Outputs DATA as a table to STREAM.

DATA must be a list of lists.

COLUMN-LABEL and COLUMN-ALIGN must have the same length as the number of columns in the table.
If not provided, COLUMN-LABEL and COLUMN-ALIGN default to COL1, COL2, ..., COLN and :left, respectively.

Example:

  (format-table t '(("X" 10 5)
                    ("Y" 5 3))
    :column-label '("VECTOR" "X" "Y")
    :column-align '(:left :right :right))
  =>
  VECTOR |  X | Y
  X      | 10 | 5
  Y      |  5 | 3