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Content is Unreadable. Open and Repair

Very, very occasionally you may see an Excel warning when opening an xlsxwriter file like:

Excel could not open file.xlsx because some content is unreadable. Do you want to open and repair this workbook.

This ominous sounding message is Excel's default warning for any validation error in the XML used for the components of the XLSX file.

If you encounter an issue like this you should open an issue on GitHub with a program to replicate the issue (see below) or send one of the failing output files to the author.

Formulas displayed as #NAME? until edited

Excel 2010 and 2013 added functions which weren't defined in the original file specification. These functions are referred to as future functions. Examples of these functions are ACOT, CHISQ.DIST.RT , CONFIDENCE.NORM, STDEV.P, STDEV.S and WORKDAY.INTL. The full list is given in the MS XLSX extensions documentation on future functions.

When written using write_formula() these functions need to be fully qualified with the _xlfn. prefix as they are shown in the MS XLSX documentation link above. For example:

 worksheet:write_formula('A1', '=_xlfn.STDEV.S(B1:B10)')

Formula results displaying as zero in non-Excel applications

Due to wide range of possible formulas and interdependencies between them, xlsxwriter doesn't, and realistically cannot, calculate the result of a formula when it is written to an XLSX file. Instead, it stores the value 0 as the formula result. It then sets a global flag in the XLSX file to say that all formulas and functions should be recalculated when the file is opened.

This is the method recommended in the Excel documentation and in general it works fine with spreadsheet applications. However, applications that don't have a facility to calculate formulas, such as Excel Viewer, or several mobile applications, will only display the 0 results.

If required, it is also possible to specify the calculated result of the formula using the optional value parameter in write_formula():

 worksheet:write_formula('A1', '=2+2', num_format, 4)

Strings aren't displayed in Apple Numbers in 'constant_memory' mode

In Workbook 'constant_memory' mode xlsxwriter uses an optimisation where cell strings aren't stored in an Excel structure call "shared strings" and instead are written "in-line".

This is a documented Excel feature that is supported by most spreadsheet applications. One known exception is Apple Numbers for Mac where the string data isn't displayed.

Images not displayed correctly in Excel 2001 for Mac and non-Excel applications

Images inserted into worksheets via insert_image may not display correctly in Excel 2011 for Mac and non-Excel applications such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Specifically the images may looked stretched or squashed.

This is not specifically an xlsxwriter issue. It also occurs with files created in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.

Last updated: 12 months ago | Edit on GitHub

Pkg type:Lua
Version: v0.0.6-28-g34a34b8
Last commit:
Author: John McNamara
License: MIT

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Required by: none