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Learn to Read and Write Microsoft Excel Documents with Jakarta's POI : Page 3

Jakarta's POI project makes it easy to read and write Excel files and provides support for manipulating other documents based on Microsoft's OLE 2 Compound Document Format. This article contains a step-by-step walkthrough that shows you how to get started with the Jakarta POI project.


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Build a Practical Example
To generate this Excel document using HSSF, you must:

  • Create the header by spanning it across two cells.
  • Leave a gap of one row.
  • Populate the first and second cell of the following row with the displayed data.
  • The last row displays a total, based on a formula that calculates the total value.
You can see that creating the spreadsheet requires separate tasks where you create a worksheet, create rows and cells, create a merged region for the worksheet caption, specify different styles for the cells and create a special type of cell to contain the mathematical formula that calculates the total. Finally, you have to save the workbook in the file system.

Creating a new Excel worksheet is simple. First you create a new workbook:

// create a new workbook HSSFWorkbook workBook = new HSSFWorkbook();

Then you can create a new worksheet within that workbook:

//create a new worksheet HSSFSheet sheet = workBook.createSheet(); etc...

You create rows by calling the Worksheet object's createRow method. Remember, the row index starts from 0.



// ***************header data******************// //create a header row HSSFRow headerRow = sheet.createRow((short) 0);

To create the merged area for the caption you want to define a merged region from the first to the third row, and from first to the tenth column. Here's the code:

//define the area for the header data(row1->row3, col1-->col10) sheet.addMergedRegion(new Region(0, (short) 0, 2, (short) 10));

After creating the caption region, create a cell to contain the caption value.

//create the header data cell HSSFCell headerCell = headerRow.createCell((short) 0); //add the date to the header cell headerCell.setCellValue("The Bowling Score");

Because the header row spans multiple rows and columns, the caption "The Bowling Score" will span the defined merged region.

Worksheet cells have many display properties that you can control through HSSF. To do that, you create an HSSFCellStyle object and apply styles such as cell alignment (CENTER/LEFT/RIGHT). The following code shows how you can set the background colors and the font style for individual cells.

//create a style for the header cell HSSFCellStyle headerStyle = workBook.createCellStyle(); headerStyle.setAlignment( HSSFCellStyle.ALIGN_CENTER); headerCell.setCellStyle(headerStyle); //create a style for this header columns HSSFCellStyle columnHeaderStyle = workBook.createCellStyle(); columnHeaderStyle.setFillBackgroundColor( HSSFColor.BLUE_GREY.index); columnHeaderStyle.setFillForegroundColor( HSSFColor.BLUE_GREY.index); HSSFFont font = workBook.createFont(); font.setColor(HSSFFont.COLOR_RED); columnHeaderStyle.setFont(font);

After defining cell styles, you can apply those styles as follows:

HSSFCell colHeading1 = columnHeaderRow.createCell((short) 0); HSSFCell colHeading2 = columnHeaderRow.createCell((short) 4); colHeading1.setCellStyle(columnHeaderStyle); colHeading2.setCellStyle(columnHeaderStyle);

The Worksheet essentially consists of multiple rows and cells. You can create as many rows and cells as you need and then apply styles and assign data to the cells. The following example creates five rows with two cells in each row. The code sets the cell values last, using the setCellValue method.

//**************report data rows and cols*********// // create 5 rows of data HSSFRow row1 = sheet.createRow((short) 5); HSSFRow row2 = sheet.createRow((short) 6); HSSFRow row3 = sheet.createRow((short) 7); HSSFRow row4 = sheet.createRow((short) 8); HSSFRow row5 = sheet.createRow((short) 9); // create the 2 cells for each row HSSFCell c11 = row1.createCell((short) 0); HSSFCell c12 = row1.createCell((short) 4); HSSFCell c21 = row2.createCell((short) 0); HSSFCell c22 = row2.createCell((short) 4); HSSFCell c31 = row3.createCell((short) 0); HSSFCell c32 = row3.createCell((short) 4); HSSFCell c41 = row4.createCell((short) 0); HSSFCell c42 = row4.createCell((short) 4); // writing data to the cells c11.setCellValue("Sam"); c12.setCellValue(100); c21.setCellValue("John"); c22.setCellValue(50); c31.setCellValue("Paul"); c32.setCellValue(25); c41.setCellValue("Richard"); c42.setCellValue(20);

One of the main advantages of Excel is that you can attach mathematical formulas to cells. The following code shows how to attach a formula to a cell. The example assigns a formula to calculate the total value of other cells in the worksheet. Notice that, in order to create a cell with a formula, you must first set the cell type to the FORMULA type.

//create a formula for the total totalValue.setCellType(HSSFCell.CELL_TYPE_FORMULA); totalValue.setCellFormula("SUM(E6:E9)");

When the workbook is complete, you can save it to a file system by opening a FileOutputStream object for the destination file and writing the Workbook contents to the stream using the write method.

FileOutputStream stream = new FileOutputStream("c:/dev/src/customs/Book1.xls"); workBook.write(stream);

It is really as simple as that. Here's the entire procedure in condensed form.

  • First, create a HSSFWorkbook object.
  • Obtain a HSSFWorksheet object from the HSSFWorkbook object. Note, that the only way, you can obtain a reference to a Worksheet object is via a Workbook object. There's no public constructor for the Worksheet object. This makes sense because Excel has no model for Worksheets that exist separately from a Workbook.
  • Similarly, you obtain HSSFRow objects from the Worksheet object and HSSFCell objects from Row objects—the existence of each type depends on its parent.
  • To create headers, create a merged region of rows and cells using the org.apache.poi.hssf.util.Region object. Note that the collections of rows and cells are zero-based.
  • Add the data to the cells using the HSSFCell object's setCellValue method. Cells support all Java native data types such as String, int, boolean etc. The API also supports some other commonly used data types such as Date and Calendar and lets you set those through the setCellValue() method.
  • The HSSFCellStyle class in HSSF handles display attributes for the cells such as color, font, width, height etc.. You can create an arbitrary style for a particular cell. For complex attributes such as colors and fonts HSSF provides objects such as HSSFColour and HSSFFont.
  • The cells support formulas. The example applies the formula SUM(E6:E9) to the total cell value.
  • Lastly, to physically create the Excel document in the file system, you need to create an OutputStream object and call the HSSFWorkbook's write method, passing the created OutputStream object as a parameter.


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