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From "Cope, Christopher" <Christopher.C...@logicacmg.com>
Subject Using HSSF to parse Excel
Date Wed, 12 Nov 2003 16:50:48 GMT

I am working on a system that automatically extracts data from .xls files,
performs manipulation of the data and then inserts the manipulated data into
an Oracle database.
There are numerous sets of data that we need to extract from different .xls
files, and the Excel spreadsheets themselves come in a number of different
formats - single worksheets, multiple worksheets, some containing macros,
formulae etc. The data items that we need to extract can therefore be in
various different places within a spreadsheet.
The data extraction process is written in Java and to handle the complexity
of where to find each data item we are using a Java rules engine.

Currently we do not access the .xls files themselves with Java, instead we
use the Runtime object to kick off an external VB process. The VB process
uses the Excel 2002 XML support to save the .xls files into Microsoft's XML
format. The Java then resumes using JAXP to read the XML files.

We have encountered various problems with VB processes failing to terminate
and are also keen to streamline things by keeping it all as one Java
process. We thus want to refactor the .xls file reading process to use Java.

So my question(s):

Is HSSF's event model the best API to achieve this?
If so will the fact that the spreadsheets typically have lots of formatting
cause problems? (see http://jakarta.apache.org/poi/faq.html Q.14)

If not what else could be used? Would it be possible to access the .xls
files using Star Office's Universal Network Objects?

Any comments gratefully received.

Thanks

Chris

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