[thelist] Other-than-XLS-format to use for Excel-Worksbooks ?

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Mon Nov 26 13:36:31 CST 2007

Stefan Schwarzer asked:

>>I am trying to offer alternative download formats in our data portal.
>>CSV is ok for a single sheet.

>>But it seems to be quite difficult if it gets to workbooks - including multiple sheets

Hi Stef,

I'm not sure who your intended audience is - or what purpose you are trying to serve with your 'data portal'.  (I think both questions impact the answer.  If you want to 'share' the data _and_ the complex processing logic in a multisheet 185,000 record [new] Excel spreadsheet with a web-based audience running a variety of operating systems and software (and versions of that software) then I think you have a lot of work ahead of you.)

If, on one hand, you are merely looking to distribute the appropriate data to the widest possible audience for further analysis, then creating a number of custom CSV files to download should suffice.  [No. Not offering 10 files - one per sheet in a 10 tab spreadsheet.  Consider instead creating a single CSV containing all of the data an end user would require in order to create any of those sheets on their own.  That's a different animal entirely.]

If, on the other hand, you really *want* to distribute the application logic (the equations) across your Intranet along with the data for internal company use, then simply offer the xls itself for download.

If, on the other other hand, you want to make sure all end users apply the same business logic, then buy or build a web-based reporting package that runs the raw data through this single conformed set of business logic rules - and then offers the final results of that analysis as a CSV download.

Pretty much anything more specific than that would end up making assumptions about the end user's enviroment or be exclusionary in some way.


IIRC, the file size that gets generated exporting a medium to large sized Excel spreadsheet as HTML is pretty awful. (Awful to the extent that, IIRC again, even Excel can screw up trying to re-import it.)

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