Lucid Builder v4

Lucid Builder CSV (Common Separated Value) Files

Applies to Matrix key projects

CSV files are text files that hold the basic data for the key (feature and entity lists and multistate and numeric score data), with one row per state, and entities and their scores separated by commas. CSV files can be opened in many spreadsheet and database programs such as Microsoft Excel and Access. If you have data in an Excel file or database, you may structure the file into a format compatible with the Lucid CSV format (see below) and export as a CSV file for import into the Lucid Builder.

Download a test key (lucid v4) and its corresponding CSV to help see how they correspond to each other.

CSV Import Options

Lucid Builder Import CSV import dialog
Lucid Builder Import CSV import dialog.

File orientation

Entity columns

If selected, Entities are expected in the columns of the CSV file.

Feature/State Columns

If selected, Features/States are expected in the columns of the CSV file.

Import options

Merge existing scores

Scores contained within the CSV file will be merged with any existing scoring contained for the feature/state entity combination.

Replace existing scores

If selected, any matching feature and entity will have it’s scores removed and replaced with the scoring contained within the CSV file.

Export CSV Key

Lucid Builder Export CSV Key dialog
Lucid Builder Export CSV Key dialog.


Enter or browse for the destination CSV filename using the Browse button located to the right of the Filename text box. If the defined file name already exists within the file system you will need to confirm the file is to be overwritten when Export is selected.

Export Options

Transposed (entities as rows)

If selected, the CSV file that is output will have the Entities are rows, rather than the default Entities as columns.

Split Files

If your key is particularly large, or your version of Excel is quite old and doesn’t support the larger row and column counts now available, the you can tell the Builder to export the key across multiple CSV files based on the maximum rows and columns defined.

Maximum Rows

Maximum rows of data to be output into each CSV file.

Maximum Cols

Maximum columns to be output into each CSV file.

CSV Structure

The structure of a CSV file compatible with the Lucid Builder can be represented as follows:

CSV structure

Entity 1Entity 2Entity 3 ...etc
State 1ScoreScoreScore
State 2ScoreScoreScore
State 3 ...etcScoreScoreScore

Entities are represented using the full path name (colon-separated) of the entity in the entity tree. For example, if a key has the following entity hierarchy:

                Brassica oleracea
                Brassica juncea

The entity Brassica oleracea would be represented as:

Brassicaceae:Brassica:Brassica oleracea

States are represented using the full path name (colon-separated) of the state in the feature tree. For example, if a key has the following feature hierarchy:


The state white would be represented as:


For multistate features

The value of Score will be as follows:

0 – absent
1 – present
2 – rarely present
3 – uncertain
4 – present by misinterpretation
5 – rarely present by misinterpretation
6 – not scoped

For more information on the Lucid score values, see the topic About Lucid Scores

For numeric features

Numeric features are represented using the full path name (colon-separated) of the feature in the feature tree, suffixed with ‘#’. For example, if a key has the following feature hierarchy:


Where Length is a numeric feature, the feature Length would be represented as:


The value of Score is a string with five colon-separated values in the format:

Score Type: Rare Low Value: Low Value: High Value: Rare High Value

For more information on numeric values, see the topic Scoring Numeric Features.


Numeric measurement units are not supported by the CSV format and will need to be defined manually after import.

Importing and Exporting data from Excel

If you wish to exchange data between the Lucid Builder and Microsoft Excel via CSV, please note the following:

  • Only one worksheet may be imported at a time.
  • The first row must contain Entity names and the first column must contain feature:state names. Use colon-separated values to create trees of Features and Entities.
  • The first cell must be blank.
  • Excel worksheets can have a maximum 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns. The maximum characters supported within a column is 255 characters.
  • The CSV is UTF-8 encoded.


The fastest way to see what the Lucid CSV file looks like is to create a small key with a couple Features, States and Entities. Then export the key to CSV. Open the exported CSV file in Excel or your preferred text editor, such as Notepad++.

CSV Special Characters

If your CSV file contains special characters (e.g. non-Latin alphabet) and you wish to open it in Excel then you may need to do the following to open the CSV with the correct encoding:

  1. Start a new empty spreadsheet.
  2. Using the ‘Data’ menu. Select the ‘From Text/CSV’ option. Normally the second option on the toolbar as shown here:
    Lucid CSV file open in Excel - handling special characters.
    Lucid CSV file open in Excel – handling special characters.
  3. Browse for the CSV file. The import dialog should then show, and the correct encoding options should be detected and automatically selected as show here:
    Lucid CSV Excel automatic encoding detection.
    Lucid CSV Excel automatic encoding detection.
  4. Finally, click the ‘Load’ button. The CSV data should now appear correctly encoded in your spreadsheet.