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Author's profile photo Sergio Ferrari

Spreadsheet integration – which approach for which SAP technology


Yet another blog about download to Microsoft Excel… Delivering Web Applications based on SAP NetWeaver to a large number of users (e.g. in B2C or B2B Portals) I received several times questions about spreadsheet support:

  • which version of Microsoft Excel do we support?
  • do we support spreadsheet applications different from Excel(e.g. ?
  • which country version of Microsoft Excel do we support?

I do not intend to answer directly to the above FAQ, instead I’m going to analyze the approach chosen by each SAP technology, then you’ll be able to find the answer to every question. There are so much possibilities in SAP NetWeaver that it is very complex to map every option and every release or patch level. Maybe, commenting this blog, sdn community will produce an exhaustive documentation about the approach used by each SAP technology.


Here is the MAP. I’m sorry for the quality but it is due to sdn image size limitation:

SAP Technology

In the MAP you’ll find SAP Technology as columns. I analyzed the last version (Web AS 7.0) of:

  • SAPgui – analyzing the ALV export feature (Windows, Java or HTML)
  • ABAP Web Dynpro – analyzing the ALV export feature
  • JAVA Web Dynpro – I didn’t find ALV support (JSP should follow in this category)
  • BSP (doesn’t matter if it is MVC or not)
  • ITS (doesn’t matter if it is standalone or integrated
  • Visual Composer (Flex)

I excluded BEx (BW – excel front-end) because it is based on Microsoft Excel and usually it is not involved in Collaborative Portals. I’m looking for Web Reporting examples in order to map it…


Spreadsheets can be integrated in several ways. I analyzed the following:

  • Txt file – a fixed length flat file
  • Csv or Dat – each column is separated by a comma or a tab
  • Html – rows and columns are described via html tags (see my previous blog: Downloading data into Excel with Format Options (from SAP Web Applications))
  • Proprietary xml Excel format – the proprietary XML format used by Microsoft Excel
  • XXL Excel – OLE integration supporting Pivot Tables
  • Proprietary.xls Excel format – the binary file format used by Excel

Support is explained as:

  • Std – it is supported without writing a line of code
  • Not possible – It’s really too complex
  • Not Std – it is supported writing some lines of code (look the column related to the complexity)

In the map you will find a column for Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and one for 2.0 – Calc. Understanding the approach (file type) you should get the idea if other version or different products are supported… Keep also in mind that formulas need the right country version.


No SAP technology generates .xls files formatted in the proprietary Microsoft Excel format. At the moment (June 2006), I feel that only ABAP Web Dynpro, thanks to the ALV component, is comparable with the powerful SAPgui. It’s a pity but using the proprietary XML Excel format, it’s focused to Microsoft Excel forgetting other Open Source spreadsheet applications. I’m still investigating in Visual Composer…

my Approach

I like the HTML approach: it’s simple, it supports advanced formatting options and formulas and in add it is well supported by Microsoft Excel and Calc (unfortunately not by ).

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I was strugling with some questions on what is possible in Web Dynpro for Java in downloading a simple table to an export file. This gives me a great overview and a good story to my customer. So thnx for that!

      But i also have a question. I also read your blog on how to format data for viewing in excel via an html file, do you have an example on how to create and download the html file from a Web Dynpro application? How do i let a user select a directory to download to?

      It would help me alot!

      Kind regards,
      Martijn de Jong.

      Author's profile photo Sergio Ferrari
      Sergio Ferrari
      Blog Post Author
      In the sdn Web Dynpro home page - you will find the "How-to Guides" and the  "Web Dynpro Sample Applications and Tutorials"

      Look for : "File Upload/Download", you will find examples: 23,30,39.

      They should help you...


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thnx Sergio!

      I wil take a look at them this evening.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Guru, I've posted a question about this issue but nobody response me. I have the portal  running on PC Linux/firefox. I know the recommendation is to avoid to developp solutions not compatible with PC linux station, but I need export alv compatible with open office.
      I don't know what should I do. It is possible?
      Thanks in advance
      Best Regads
      Author's profile photo Sergio Ferrari
      Sergio Ferrari
      Blog Post Author
      Micaela, Web Dynpro ALV (I'm looking to the ABAP version) provide a Download to Microsoft Excel out-of-the-box feature.
      The downloaded file is not a true .xls nor .xlsx file indeed it's a .mht file with MS Excel specific tags.
      If you save the file as export.mht you should be able to open it from OpenOffice Calc.It's a pity that there MS Excel specific TAGs will not be interpreted and you'll get some garbage at the begin of the list.
      I didn't find a convenient way to export a compatible file from ALV.
      Even I didn't find any converted from MS Excel .mht to .ods (or any other compatible format).
      I think you should program an function to export the ALV data to a format compatible with OpenOffice.
      In another blog for example I suggested to generate simple HTML files Downloading data into Excel with Format Options (from SAP Web Applications)