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Row and Column Properties

Format Support (click to show)

Row Properties: XLSX/M, XLSB, BIFF8 XLS, XLML, SYLK, DOM, ODS

Column Properties: XLSX/M, XLSB, BIFF8 XLS, XLML, SYLK, DOM

Row and Column properties are not extracted by default when reading from a file and are not persisted by default when writing to a file. The option cellStyles: true must be passed to the relevant read or write function.

Column Properties

The !cols array in each worksheet, if present, is a collection of ColInfo objects which have the following properties:

type ColInfo = {
  /* visibility */
  hidden?: boolean; // if true, the column is hidden

  /* column width is specified in one of the following ways: */
  wpx?:    number;  // width in screen pixels
  width?:  number;  // width in Excel's "Max Digit Width", width*256 is integral
  wch?:    number;  // width in characters

  /* other fields for preserving features from files */
  level?:  number;  // 0-indexed outline / group level
  MDW?:    number;  // Excel's "Max Digit Width" unit, always integral
};

Row Properties

The !rows array in each worksheet, if present, is a collection of RowInfo objects which have the following properties:

type RowInfo = {
  /* visibility */
  hidden?: boolean; // if true, the row is hidden

  /* row height is specified in one of the following ways: */
  hpx?:    number;  // height in screen pixels
  hpt?:    number;  // height in points

  level?:  number;  // 0-indexed outline / group level
};

Outline / Group Levels Convention

The Excel UI displays the base outline level as 1 and the max level as 8. Following JS conventions, SheetJS uses 0-indexed outline levels wherein the base outline level is 0 and the max level is 7.

Why are there three width types? (click to show)

There are three different width types corresponding to the three different ways spreadsheets store column widths:

SYLK and other plain text formats use raw character count. Contemporaneous tools like Visicalc and Multiplan were character based. Since the characters had the same width, it sufficed to store a count. This tradition was continued into the BIFF formats.

SpreadsheetML (2003) tried to align with HTML by standardizing on screen pixel count throughout the file. Column widths, row heights, and other measures use pixels. When the pixel and character counts do not align, Excel rounds values.

XLSX internally stores column widths in a nebulous "Max Digit Width" form. The Max Digit Width is the width of the largest digit when rendered (generally the "0" character is the widest). The internal width must be an integer multiple of the the width divided by 256. ECMA-376 describes a formula for converting between pixels and the internal width. This represents a hybrid approach.

Read functions attempt to populate all three properties. Write functions will try to cycle specified values to the desired type. In order to avoid potential conflicts, manipulation should delete the other properties first. For example, when changing the pixel width, delete the wch and width properties.

Implementation details (click to show)

Row Heights

Excel internally stores row heights in points. The default resolution is 72 DPI or 96 PPI, so the pixel and point size should agree. For different resolutions they may not agree, so the library separates the concepts.

Even though all of the information is made available, writers are expected to follow the priority order:

  1. use hpx pixel height if available
  2. use hpt point height if available

Column Widths

Given the constraints, it is possible to determine the MDW without actually inspecting the font! The parsers guess the pixel width by converting from width to pixels and back, repeating for all possible MDW and selecting the MDW that minimizes the error. XLML actually stores the pixel width, so the guess works in the opposite direction.

Even though all of the information is made available, writers are expected to follow the priority order:

  1. use width field if available
  2. use wpx pixel width if available
  3. use wch character count if available
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Tagged at
11 months ago