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CFCONTENT Excel with Empty Cells

Posted on 2012-03-12
Last Modified: 2012-03-13
Exporting data from our database to Excel using CF8 using <cfsetting showdebugoutput="false">
<cfheader name="content-disposition" value="attachment;filename=#OUTFILE2#.xls">
<cfcontent type="application/msexcel">

And then generating XML.

We have some cells that are supposed to be empty but they aren't actually when Excel is open.   Is there way around this?   I see the POI solution has a cell type blank but I can't see a way to replicate this with the process we are using.
Question by:digitalwise
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Expert Comment

ID: 37713021
There are a few different ways I've generated Excel content from ColdFusion 8 in the past...

1. CSV (for empty cells just leave a blank between the delimiters)
2. HTML table saved as .xls (for empty cell create an empty <TD></TD>)
2. Apache POI (this is the best Excel solution in my opinion)

Here's how I use apache POI to generate an Excel spreadsheet...

<cfsetting showdebugoutput="false">

<cfset filename="report.xls">
<cfset out = createObject("java", "java.io.FileOutputStream").init(#filename#)>

<cfset wb = createObject("java", "org.apache.poi.hssf.usermodel.HSSFWorkbook")>
<cfset s = wb.createSheet("Test Report")>

<!--- create right-aligned column style --->
<cfset alignRightStyle = wb.createCellStyle()>
<cfset alignRightStyle.setAlignment(alignRightStyle.ALIGN_RIGHT)>

<!--- create header style--->
<cfset headerStyle = wb.createCellStyle()>
<cfset headerStyleFont = wb.createFont()>
<cfset headerStyleFont.setBoldWeight(headerStyleFont.BOLDWEIGHT_BOLD)>
<cfset headerStyle.setFont(headerStyleFont)>

<!--- create header-right style--->
<cfset headerRightStyle = wb.createCellStyle()>
<cfset headerRightStyleFont = wb.createFont()>
<cfset headerRightStyleFont.setBoldWeight(headerStyleFont.BOLDWEIGHT_BOLD)>
<cfset headerRightStyle.setFont(headerStyleFont)>
<cfset headerRightStyle.setAlignment(alignRightStyle.ALIGN_RIGHT)>

<cfset i = 0>

<cfset r = s.createRow(i)>
<cfset c = r.createCell(0)>
<cfset c.setCellValue('Header 1')>
<cfset c.setCellStyle(headerStyle)>
<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>

<cfset c = r.createCell(1)>
<cfset c.setCellValue('Header 2')>
<cfset c.setCellStyle(headerStyle)>
<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>

<cfset c = r.createCell(2)>
<cfset c.setCellValue('Header 3')>
<cfset c.setCellStyle(headerRightStyle)>
<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>

<!--- create ten rows --->
<cfloop from="1" to="10" index="i">
	<cfset r = s.createRow(i)>
	<cfset c = r.createCell(0)>
	<cfset c.setCellValue('value 1')>
	<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>
	<!--- blank cells --->
	<cfset c = r.createCell(1)>
	<cfset c.setCellValue('')>	
	<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>
	<cfset c = r.createCell(2)>
	<cfset c.setCellValue('value 3')>
	<cfset c.setCellStyle(alignRightStyle)>
	<cfset c.setCellType(c.CELL_TYPE_STRING)>
<cfset s.createFreezePane(1, 1)>
<cfset s.setColumnWidth(0, 5000)>
<cfset s.setColumnWidth(1, 5000)>
<cfset s.setColumnWidth(2, 5000)>

<!--- print settings --->
<cfset wb.removePrintArea(0)>	
<cfset wb.setPrintArea(0,"$A$1:$C$#i#")>

<cfset h = s.getHeader()>
<cfset h.setLeft("Report")>
<cfset s.setAutobreaks(true)>
<cfset s.setPrintGridlines(true)>

<cfset ps = s.getPrintSetup()>
<cfset ps.setLandscape(true)>
<cfset ps.setFitWidth(1)>
<cfset ps.setFitHeight(0)>

<!--- output the sheet --->
<cfset wb.write(out)>
<cfset getPageContext().getResponse().setContentType('application/vnd.ms-excel')>
<cfset getPageContext().getResponse().setHeader('Content-Disposition', 'filename=#filename#')>
<cfcontent reset="true" file="#filename#" deletefile="false">

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Author Comment

ID: 37714397
Thanks but I am aware of the methods - I am not in a position to redo the export that has lots of styles associated with it.  I just need to know if there is a way to generate truly empty cells with the XML method I am using.   <TD></TD> doesn't actually create an empty cell and I am using <cell><data></data></cell> and that doesn't work either.    It doesn't have anything in it but it isn't EMPTY.

Accepted Solution

micropc1 earned 500 total points
ID: 37714752
ah...i misunderstood the question. You need to omit the <data></data> tags. Just use <cell></cell>.
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LVL 36

Expert Comment

ID: 37714789
cf likes every variable to be a string (numbers, dates etc) and doesn't handle nulls returned from a db in a way that you'd necessarily expect (null value from numeric field returns 0 etc) http://docs.transfer-orm.com/wiki/Handling_Null_Values.cfm so it doesn't surprise me that it's doing something similar with excel files & blanks

So I think the answer is no (at least not a simple way)- you can see it's even an issue in 9 here http://cfsearching.blogspot.com/2010/05/cf9-question-do-spreadsheet-functions.html
LVL 36

Expert Comment

ID: 37714843
"at least not a simple way" - unless the solution by micropc1 works , then that would be one ;)

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37714921
Thank you so much - this is such a simple solution and it works perfectly!!   Wish Adobe or Microsoft would document!

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