Tutorial on Converting an List of Strings or Numbers to a CSV file with optional sorting

Chances are you might have needed to convert a list of strings or numbers to a CSV file while you were programming something. An example is that in any java program you might have obtained a list of states of United States stored in your ArrayList object and then you wanted to have them in a CSV format so that you probably could load it to a database or use it for some other purposes.

I wrote this tool to serve the same purpose.

Here are the basic features this simple java example can do. Given a list of String objects stored in an ArrayList, this program can:

  • Convert Strings or numbers stored in an ArrayList object to comma separated strings
  • Print the comma separated values (CSV) to either console or file
  • Optionally you can sort the the list before you do the conversion.

package com.kushal.tools;

import java.io.BufferedWriter;
import java.io.FileWriter;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.Iterator;
import java.util.List;

 * @author Kushal Paudyal 
 * Last Modified on 2011-09-06 This utility converts a
 * list to comma separated values. Intended to be used with Strings and
 * can be modified with numbers.
 * Have options to write the converted values to either console or file.
public class ListToCSV {
	private static boolean writeCSVToConsole = true;
	private static boolean writeCSVToFile = true;
	private static String destinationCSVFile = "C:\temp\convertedCSV.csv";
	private static boolean sortTheList = true;

	public static void main(String[] args) {
		ListToCSV util = new ListToCSV();
		List<String> sampleList = util.createSampleList();
		util.convertAndPrint(sampleList, writeCSVToConsole, writeCSVToFile, sortTheList);


	 * @param sampleList - input list of string
	 * @param writeToConsole - if this flag is true, writes to console
	 * @param writeToFile - if this flag is true writes to file.
	 * @param sortTheList - if the list is to be sorted before conversion
	private void convertAndPrint(List<String> sampleList,
			boolean writeToConsole, boolean writeToFile, boolean sortTheList) {
		String commaSeparatedValues = "";

		/** If the list is not null and the list size is not zero, do the processing**/
		if (sampleList != null) {
			/** Sort the list if sortTheList was passed as true**/
			if(sortTheList) {
			/**Iterate through the list and append comma after each values**/
			Iterator<String> iter = sampleList.iterator();
			while (iter.hasNext()) {
				commaSeparatedValues += iter.next() + ",";
			/**Remove the last comma**/
			if (commaSeparatedValues.endsWith(",")) {
				commaSeparatedValues = commaSeparatedValues.substring(0,
		/** If writeToConsole flag was passed as true, output to console**/
		if(writeToConsole) {
		/** If writeToFile flag was passed as true, output to File**/		
		if(writeToFile) {
			try {
				FileWriter fstream = new FileWriter(destinationCSVFile, false);
				BufferedWriter out = new BufferedWriter(fstream);
				System.out.println("*** Also wrote this information to file: " + destinationCSVFile);
			} catch (Exception e) {


	 * Creates a sample list to be used by the convertAndPrint method
	 * and returns it to the calling method. 
	private List<String> createSampleList() {
		List<String> sampleList = new ArrayList<String>();
		return sampleList;