Skip empty CSV fields

Suppose you are updating AD accounts using values from a CSV file, easy, right?

Now, let’s say that some of the fields in the CSV file are empty. E.g.:

Question: What will happen when we apply this to AD?

Import-Csv c:\update.csv | Set-QADUser -Identity { $_.samAccountName }

Answer: Set-QADUser will make the missing fields blank:
C:\> Get-QADUser -SamAccountName test[1-3] | ft samAccountName, Title,Department -AutoSize

SamAccountName Title     Department
-------------- -----     ----------
test1                    Accounting
test2          Developer           
test3                    Pre-Sales

This is great because you can use CSV to make any updates including clearing attributes.

Now, what if you actually need a different behavior and would like to skip the missing attributes instead?

Here’s the script with which I came up:

foreach ( $record in (Import-Csv c:\update.csv)) {
  $command = "Set-QADUser $($record.samAccountName)"

  foreach ( $attr in 
   (Get-Member -InputObject $record -MemberType NoteProperty) ) {
     $value = $record.($attr.Name)
     if ( $value -and ( $attr.Name -ne 'samAccountName' ) ) {
      $command += " -$($attr.Name) $value"

  Invoke-Expression $command

Basically, I:

  1. Go through each record in the CSV file.
  2. For each record ($record) I iterate through its attributes ($attr – columns in the CSV).
  3. If the column is not samAccountName and is not empty, I add it to the string ($command) in which I construct the Set-QADUser command.
  4. Then I simply run the command with Invoke-Expression.

You can load the script in the PowerGUI Script Editor and press F11 to go step-by-step and see how it works.

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4 Responses to “Skip empty CSV fields”

  1. 1 Stuart October 7, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I like the approach of this and have used a similar solution in powershell and VBScript (using ADO) however I have always had the problem of imbedded spaces and quote characters. Do you have any thoughts as to a more elegant solution than appending a single quote to the beginning and end of each variable (which does not get around the problem of a department, for example, that contains “Plasterer’s Supplies”. My basic amendment would be $command += ” -$($attr.Name) ‘$value'”.

  2. 2 Dmitry Sotnikov October 7, 2008 at 11:27 am


    Sure, if you don’t like strings with calculated expressions, just use string concatenation instead:

    $command += ” -” + $attr.Name + ” ” + $value


  3. 3 swhite26 October 7, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Sorry, not complaining about the structure of the code, I am querying whether there is a neater way of handling troublesome charactes in the data. If you change the CSV file to look like this:

    test3,,Plasterer’s Supplies

    (Note that is a single quote after Plasterer – WordPress keeps trying to make it look pretty).

    I think that if you run that, your script will break. It is not just the QAD cmdlets either – it is anything that uses invoke-expression. See my example below having copied the data above into test.csv:

    PS C:\Users\swhite26> $x = import-csv test.csv
    PS C:\Users\swhite26> $x = import-csv test.csv
    PS C:\Users\swhite26> $y = $x[2]
    PS C:\Users\swhite26> invoke-expression “dir $($y.department)”
    Invoke-Expression : Incomplete string token.
    At line:1 char:18
    + invoke-expression <<<

  4. 4 Dmitry Sotnikov October 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm


    OK, sorry, I was not reading carefully enough…

    Yes, I guess you could add the single quotes to fight spaces, etc. and use Replace to escape the single quotes inside:

    cd c:\Temp
    $s = “Plasterer’s Supplies”
    $s = $s.Replace(“‘”, “””)
    $command = “dir ”
    $command += “‘$s'”
    Invoke-Expression $command


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