What is the better API to Reading Excel sheets in java - JXL or Apache POI

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Which of the two APIs makes it easier to read, write, and edit Excel sheets? Are CSV extensions not supported by these APIs?

Using JXL for file.xls and file.xlsx, I get an exception like:

jxl.read.biff.BiffException: Unable to recognize OLE stream
    at jxl.read.biff.CompoundFile.<init>(CompoundFile.java:116)
    at jxl.read.biff.File.<init>(File.java:127)
    at jxl.Workbook.getWorkbook(Workbook.java:268)
    at core.ReadXLSheet.contentReading(ReadXLSheet.java:46)
    at core.ReadXLSheet.init(ReadXLSheet.java:22)
    at core.ReadXLSheet.main(ReadXLSheet.java:72)

Both for .xls and .xlsx extensions. Java Version I am using is: JDK1.6

Oct 9, 2022 in Others by Kithuzzz
• 38,010 points

1 answer to this question.

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Here are the things where both APIs have the same end functionality:

  • Both are free
  • Cell styling: alignment, backgrounds (colors and patterns), borders (types and colors), font support (font names, colors, size, bold, italic, strikeout, underline)
  • Formulas
  • Hyperlinks
  • Merged cell regions
  • Size of rows and columns
  • Data formatting: Numbers and Dates
  • Text wrapping within cells
  • Freeze Panes
  • Header/Footer support
  • Read/Write existing and new spreadsheets
  • Both attempt to keep existing objects in spreadsheets they read in intact as far as possible.


However, there are many differences:

  • Perhaps the most significant difference is that Java JXL does not support the Excel 2007+ ".xlsx" format; it only supports the old BIFF (binary) ".xls" format. Apache POI supports both with a common design.
  • Additionally, the Java portion of the JXL API was last updated in 2009 (3 years, 4 months ago as I write this), although it looks like there is a C# API. Apache POI is actively maintained.
  • JXL doesn't support Conditional Formatting, Apache POI does, although this is not that significant, because you can conditionally format cells with your own code.
  • JXL doesn't support rich text formatting, i.e. different formatting within a text string; Apache POI does support it.
  • JXL only supports certain text rotations: horizontal/vertical, +/- 45 degrees, and stacked; Apache POI supports any integer number of degrees plus stacked.
  • JXL doesn't support drawing shapes; Apache POI does.
  • JXL supports most Page Setup settings such as Landscape/Portrait, Margins, Paper size, and Zoom. Apache POI supports all of that plus Repeating Rows and Columns.
  • JXL doesn't support Split Panes; Apache POI does.
  • JXL doesn't support Chart creation or manipulation; that support isn't there yet in Apache POI, but an API is slowly starting to form.
  • Apache POI has a more extensive set of documentation and examples available than JXL.

 In conclusion, because of the better documentation, more features, active development, and Excel 2007+ format support, I use Apache POI.

answered Oct 9, 2022 by narikkadan
• 63,700 points

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