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Monday, June 12, 2006

Excel and php without activeX


By Justin Silverton


Introduction

Spreadsheet_Excel_writer is a PEAR component for creating Excel files without the need for COM components. The files generated are in the Excel 5 (BIFF5) format, so all functionality until that version of Excel (but not beyond) should be available.

Using

The most common use for Spreadsheet_Excel_Writer will be spitting out large (or not so large) amounts of information in the form of a spreadsheet, which is easy to manipulate with a fairly ubiquitous spreadsheet program such as Excel (or OpenOffice).

Example 1:

send('test.xls');

// Creating a worksheet
$worksheet =& $workbook-&gtaddWorksheet('My first worksheet');

// The actual data
$worksheet->write(0, 0, 'Name');
$worksheet->write(0, 1, 'Age');
$worksheet->write(1, 0, 'John Smith');
$worksheet->write(1, 1, 18);

// Let's send the file
$workbook->close();
?>

The first thing you should notice, is that we created a workbook before any worksheets. All worksheets are contained within a workbook, and a workbook may contain several worksheets.

Another important thing, which you should have in mind when programming with Spreadsheet_Excel_Writer, is that ampersand sign (&) that appears when we created our worksheet. That ampersand means we are referencing a Worksheet object instead of copying it. If you don't know what that means, don't worry, all you have to remember is to always use ampersands when calling addWorksheet() for creating a worksheet, or addFormat() for creating a format.
Saving to a regular file

You may have noticed also the following line:

// sending HTTP headers
$workbook->send('test.xls');

What that means is that we are sending our spreadsheet to a browser. But what if we just want to save the spreadsheet in our machine? Well, you just have to omit that line and give a valid file path to the workbook constructor.

For example, if we wanted to save the same spreadsheet we created in our first example to a file named 'test.xls', we would do it like so:

Example 2:

addWorksheet('test worksheet');

$worksheet->write(0, 0, 'Name');
$worksheet->write(0, 1, 'Age');
$worksheet->write(1, 0, 'John Smith');
$worksheet->write(1, 1, 10);

// We still need to explicitly close the workbook
$workbook->close();
?>

More info and documentation on this component can be found here