How to extract table data from PDF as CSV from the command line


I want to extract all rows from here while ignoring the column headers as well as all page headers, i.e. Supported Devices.

pdftotext -layout DAC06E7D1302B790429AF6E84696FCFAB20B.pdf - \
 | sed '$d'                                                  \
 | sed -r 's/ +/,/g; s/ //g'                                 \
 > output.csv

The resulting file should be in CSV spreadsheet format (comma separated value fields).

In other words, I want to improve the above command so that the output doesn't brake at all. Any ideas?

Best Solution

I'll offer you another solution as well.

While in this case the pdftotext method works with reasonable effort, there may be cases where not each page has the same column widths (as your rather benign PDF shows).

Here the not-so-well-known, but pretty cool Free and OpenSource Software Tabula-Extractor is the best choice.

I myself am using the direct GitHub checkout:

$ cd $HOME ; mkdir svn-stuff ; cd svn-stuff
$ git clone git.tabula-extractor

I wrote myself a pretty simple wrapper script like this:

$ cat ~/bin/tabulaextr

 cd ${HOME}/svn-stuff/git.tabula-extractor/bin
 ./tabula $@

Since ~/bin/ is in my $PATH, I just run

$ tabulaextr --pages all                                 \
         $(pwd)/DAC06E7D1302B790429AF6E84696FCFAB20B.pdf \
        | tee my.csv

to extract all the tables from all pages and convert them to a single CSV file.

The first ten (out of a total of 8727) lines of the CVS look like this:

$ head DAC06E7D1302B790429AF6E84696FCFAB20B.csv 

 Retail Branding,Marketing Name,Device,Model
 "","",AD681H,Smartfren Andromax AD681H
 "","",T31,Panasonic T31
 "","",hws7721g,MediaPad 7 Youth 2
 AG Mobile,Status,Status,Status

which in the original PDF look like this:

Screenshot from top of first page of sample PDF

It even got these lines on the last page, 293, right:

 nabi,"nabi Big Tab HD\xe2\x84\xa2 20""",DMTAB-NV20A,DMTAB-NV20A
 nabi,"nabi Big Tab HD\xe2\x84\xa2 24""",DMTAB-NV24A,DMTAB-NV24A

which look on the PDF page like this:

last page of sample PDF

TabulaPDF and Tabula-Extractor are really, really cool for jobs like this!


Here is an ASCiinema screencast (which you also can download and re-play locally in your Linux/MacOSX/Unix terminal with the help of the asciinema command line tool), starring tabula-extractor: