Since this article was published, several new features have been added to Spreadsheet::WriteExcel. The module now supports formatting of cells, rows, and columns; page set-up for printing; formulas and functions; hyperlinks; bitmap images; and it can now be used with mod_perl. Development work continues and the module has been adopted by a large number of institutions and companies, including several international banks and investment companies. And at least one user has employed it to placate his mother-in-law. Takanori Kawai has also written the Spreadsheet::ParseExcel module that provides a cross-platform means of reading Excel files. As such, Perl is currently the only language to have open source support for reading and writing Excel files.
One of Perl’s great strengths is the ability to filter data from one format into another. Data goes in one end of a Perl program and miraculously comes out the other end as something more useful. Your Sybase file goes into Perl counseling and after a few short sessions comes out feeling like a brand new Oracle file.
However, not all file formats are readily accessible. Certain proprietary file formats, and in particular binary files, can be difficult to handle. One such format is the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file.
Excel is the spreadsheet application at the heart of the Microsoft Office suite. It is a popular tool for data analysis and reporting, and even though it is only available on ...