Converting .csv or Google Sheets into Wikipedia tables

You’ll find lots of blog posts explaining how to do this the other way, converting a table from Wikipedia into a spreadsheet. I even cover this myself in Feeding Google Spreadsheets: Exercises in using importHTML. This post looks at taking a .csv or a spreadsheet and formatting it as a Wikipedia table.

I’ve been on a bit of a Wikipedia journey expertly guided by a friend, Simon Knight (@sjgknight) … who happens to be Wikimedia UK Vice Chair. The journey has included Wiki ShootMe which has been covered by Alan Levine (@cogdog) and a wonderful Teaching Wikipedia Editing session you can still watch from Connected Courses.

One of the great things about Wikipedia is there is no shortage of information on how to do stuff. Before jumping in I had a quick look for some existing tools and came across this article on Importing (converting) content to Wikipedia (MediaWiki) format. Listed is the Spreadsheet-to-MediaWiki-table-Converter. This is some code you would more normally run on a server possibly used as a library within another project. Wanting something simpler I looked for and found guidance on creating a sortable table. The guidance helpfully includes an example copied below:

{| class="wikitable sortable"
! name
! data
! more data
| cats
| 273
| 53
| dogs
| 65
| 8,492
| mice
| 1,649
| 548

And here is what it looks like:

name data more data
cats 273 53
dogs 65 8,492
mice 1,649 548

Hopefully you can quickly see the pattern, you start with the column headings, one per line of wikicode and then each of the rows again one value per row for each cell. This type of pattern is easy to code … if you can code … … if you want to code. As I was composing my first line I remembered an old project Templated Export for Google Spreadsheets:

Templated Export allows users to reshape and selectively publish data from Google Spreadsheets in custom formats. The tool is powered by Google App Script which allows integration with Google Spreadsheets using existing authenticated access. Example uses include: turning data from a spreadsheet into a RSS feed and publishing data from a spreadsheet in JSON format to be used by other tools/services. The framework for creating a custom wrapper for your data means there are many more opportunities.

Templated Export lets you customise use a basic reference system to create you own output pattern:

Templated Export

There is some learning curve using this and original post has details on setting this up and using it. The basic concept is you use a cell reference as a way to build up your pattern. You can save your templates which means if you update your data in your Google Sheet you can open the Templated Export interface and download it again or use a saved ‘published url’.

Templated Export hasn’t been touched for two years and is perhaps a candidate for some ‘modern’ Google Apps Script techniques such as publishing as an Add-on. If the thought of playing with Google Apps Script doesn’t take you fancy, Templated Export is based on a feature of OpenRefine called Templating Exporter. OpenRefine can be downloaded and run from your desktop and can handle a variety of data file formats.

So go forth and fill Wikipedia with lovely tables for everyone else to reference in ‘Wikipedia table export’ posts ;)