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Microsoft Excel Reader (XLSXR) and Writer (XLSXW)

Licensing options for this format begin with FME Professional Edition.

FME provides read and write access to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (also known as workbooks). Excel spreadsheets may contain multiple worksheets and each worksheet may optionally contain specifically named cell ranges called Named Ranges.

Format Abbreviations

Reader: XLSXR

Writer: XLSXW


This format supports:

  • Excel 97-2003 binary formats (.xls)
  • Excel 2007-2013 xml formats (.xlsx/.xlsm). .xlsm files are .xlsx files with macros enabled, and use the same file format.

The Excel reader/writer does not support Binary Workbooks (.xlsb), Macro-enabled Template (.xltm), or Excel Add-in (.xlam).

This reader/writer can only process a single file type per reader or writer.

Differences Between XLS and XLSX

Starting in Office 2007, Microsoft changed the default Excel file format from .xls to .xlsx.

While .xls is a proprietary binary format, the newer .xlsx version is an XML-based spreadsheet, defined in the Office Open XML (OOXML) specification.

How FME Works with Excel Data

To get the most value from an Excel spreadsheet, you also have to organize, analyze, and filter its data. Large datasets can easily exceed the limits of the Excel format: FME can read and analyze large amounts of data, filter it, organize it into sheets, and then output the results into a manageable spreadsheet. FME can also integrate spreadsheets with data from other formats (for example, demographic databases, GIS, CAD drawings, web services, and orthophotos).

You can use FME to perform simple operations, like merging or filtering spreadsheet data, but you can also use FME to perform more complex tasks like spatial operations. For example, if your data contains addresses, coordinate pairs, street names or asset codes, FME recognizes common names for geometry columns (like latitude/longitude), and then automatically converts the rows to geometry. By integrating geocoding services like ArGIS Online or Google, you can map Excel data and then view it in the FME Data Inspector.

For more information on using FME to automate Excel tasks, see FME and Excel.

Terminology in this Chapter

Term Definition or FME Representation
spreadsheet and workbook reader dataset
worksheet or named range feature type
column in a worksheet or named range attribute
row feature

Usage Notes

About the Reader (XLSXR)

The XLSX reader supports reading multiple worksheets and named ranges from the same file. Because of this, multiple files are not supported, so you will need to create a separate reader for each Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

About the Writer (XLSXW)

The Microsoft Excel writer writes attribute records into a spreadsheet. The writer provides the following capabilities:

  • Table Creation
  • Images
  • Multiple Worksheets and/or Named Ranges
  • Writer Mode Specification: The writer allows the user to specify a writer mode, which determines the operation to perform for each feature received.

FME Knowledge Center

Search Excel

Search Spreadsheets

Search Tables

External Resources

Microsoft Excel Specifications and Limits

Difference Between XLS and XLSX