Java Excel API - A Java API to read, write and modify Excel spreadsheets

This is the home page of Java Excel API - open source Java API which allows Java developers to read Excel spreadsheets and to generate Excel spreadsheets dynamically. In addition, it contains a mechanism which allows java applications to read in a spreadsheet, modify some cells and write out the new spreadsheet.

This API allows non Windows operating systems to run pure Java applications which can both process and deliver Excel spreadsheets. Because it is Java, this API may be invoked from within a servlet, thus giving access to Excel functionality over internet and intranet web applications.


  • Reads data from Excel 95, 97, 2000 workbooks
  • Reads and writes formulas (Excel 97 and later only)
  • Generates spreadsheets in Excel 2000 format
  • Supports font, number and date formatting
  • Supports shading and colouring of cells
  • Modifies existing worksheets
  • Supports image creation
  • Preserves macros on copy
  • Customizable logging
  • Limitations

  • JExcelApi does not generate or chart, graph or macro information. This information is however preserved when spreadsheets are copied
  • When adding images to a sheet, only PNG image formats are supported
  • Getting started

    The distribution comes with a number of demo programs which illustrate how the API may be used.

    Reading Spreadsheets

    When reading a spreadsheet, the demo programs may be used "as is" to convert Excel files to CSV and XML formats in a reasonable manner.

    java -jar jxl.jar -csv myspreadsheet.xls

    To view the spreadsheet as XML, invoke the demo as follows

    java -jar jxl.jar -xml myspreadsheet.xls

    In order to present the data the demo uses the classes xlrd/ and xlrd/ respectively. For more sophisticated processing, these classes may be used as a starting point. Click here for a tutorial.

    Generating Spreadsheets

    The write demo illustrates the functionality accessible within JExcelApi to generate spreadsheets. The spreadsheet generated by the demo includes different fonts, number formatting, date formatting, colours and borders.

    To generate the demo spreadsheet, invoke JExcelApi as follows:

    java -jar jxl.jar -write myspreadsheet.xls

    This will generate the sample spreadsheet called myspreadsheet.xls in the current working directory. The class used to generate this spreadheet is jxl/ This may be used as a starting point for bespoke processing.

    Copying Spreadsheets

    JExcelApi may be used to copy and modify a spreadsheet. Included with the JExcelApi is a spreadsheet called jxlrwtest.xls, which is hardcoded into the demo program. If this spreadsheet is passed as a command line argument to the demo, then a copy of this spreadsheet will be generated, with the second sheet containing modified values.

    DO NOT MODIFY THE DEMO SPREADSHEET otherwise the modification demo will not work.

    To run this demo, from the directory containing jxlrwtest.xls type

    java -jar jxl.jar -rw jxlrwtest.xls myoutput.xls

    This will generate an output spreadsheet called myoutput.xls. The first sheet (called "original") is unchanged, but the second sheet (called "modified" has had its cell contents changed, as indicated by the labels.

    The class for the modification demo is jxl/


    JExcelApi requires Java 2 JDK to run.

    When dealing with large spreadsheets, particularly when using the copy functionality, it is recommended that users allocate sufficient memory to the JVM using the -Xms and -Xmx options on the java command line.


    JExcelApi comes packaged as a zipped tar file, called something like jexcelapi_2_0.tar.gz. To unpack on UNIX systems, at the command line type

    gunzip jexcelapi_2_0.tar.gz      followed by
    tar xf jexcelapi_2_0.tar

    On Linux systems this can be accomplished within the single command

    tar zxf jexcelapi_2_0.tar.gz

    On Windows/NT systems, the archive may be unpacked visually using a utility such as Winzip.

    Whatever the unpacking process, the application will be placed in a subdirectory called jexcelapi. The top level directory contains this html page and the pre-built jar file, jxl.jar. The docs directory contains the javadoc documentation for the public classes, the build directory contains the buildfile (requires ant ) and the src directory contains the source code for the java classes.

    Excel Versions

    JExcelApi will read workbooks created in Excel 95, 97 and 2000, and will generate workbooks that can be read by Excel 97 and later.


    JExcelApi is issued on under the GNU Lesser General Public License. For further information click here.

    Further Notes

    A tutorial is available for those who wish guidance on how to use the API for reading, writing and copying spreadsheets.

    When writing out spreadsheets, JExcelApi has limited support for graphs charts and macros during the copy process, but they cannot be created via the API.

    For further technical information, including how JExcelApi handles dates and unicode characters, read the technical notes

    Download JExcelApi

    Change History

    I endeavour to answer all emails, but it's taking up more and more time. Before emailing me with a question please check the FAQ first.

    Eric Jung has set up a yahoo group  here. As well as providing a discussion forum I will also post a message to this group whenever a new version of JExcelApi is released.

    Please check out these resources before emailing me - if I can keep the amount of time spent answering emails to a reasonable level then I can still expend effort on enhancing the software.
    Contact me

    Stefano has ported JExcelApi to .net. You can access the software here

    Make a Donation

    JExcelApi is free software and will remain so. If JExcelApi has been of benefit to you or your company, perhaps you might like to make a voluntary donation to JExcelApi using PayPal

    Return to my home directory

    This site last updated 10th April, 2005