How to export SSIS to Microsoft Excel without additional software?

This question is long winded because I have been updating the question over a very long time trying to get SSIS to properly export Excel data. I managed to solve this issue, although not correctly. Aside from someone providing a correct answer, the solution listed in this question is not terrible.

The only answer I found was to create a single row named range wide enough for my columns. In the named range put sample data and hide it. SSIS appends the data and reads metadata from the single row (that is close enough for it to drop stuff in it). The data takes the format of the hidden single row. This allows headers, etc.

WOW what a pain in the butt. It will take over 450 days of exports to recover the time lost. However, I still love SSIS and will continue to use it because it is still way better than Filemaker LOL. My next attempt will be doing the same thing in the report server.

Original question notes:

If you are in Sql Server Integrations Services designer and want to export data to an Excel file starting on something other than the first line, lets say the forth line, how do you specify this?

I tried going in to the Excel Destination of the Data Flow, changed the AccessMode to OpenRowSet from Variable, then set the variable to "YPlatters$A4:I20000" This fails saying it cannot find the sheet. The sheet is called YPlatters.

I thought you could specify (Sheet$)(Starting Cell):(Ending Cell)?


Apparently in Excel you can select a set of cells and name them with the name box. This allows you to select the name instead of the sheet without the $ dollar sign. Oddly enough, whatever the range you specify, it appends the data to the next row after the range. Oddly, as you add data, it increases the named selection's row count.

Another odd thing is the data takes the format of the last line of the range specified. My header rows are bold. If I specify a range that ends with the header row, the data appends to the row below, and makes all the entries bold. if you specify one row lower, it puts a blank line between the header row and the data, but the data is not bold.

Another update

No matter what I try, SSIS samples the "first row" of the file and sets the metadata according to what it finds. However, if you have sample data that has a value of zero but is formatted as the first row, it treats that column as text and inserts numeric values with a single quote in front ('123.34). I also tried headers that do not reflect the data types of the columns. I tried changing the metadata of the Excel destination, but it always changes it back when I run the project, then fails saying it will truncate data. If I tell it to ignore errors, it imports everything except that column.

Several days of several hours a piece later...

Another update

I tried every combination. A mostly working example is to create the named range starting with the column headers. Format your column headers as you want the data to look as the data takes on this format. In my example, these exist from A4 to E4, which is my defined range. SSIS appends to the row after the defined range, so defining A4 to E68 appends the rows starting at A69. You define the Connection as having the first row contains the field names. It takes on the metadata of the header row, oddly, not the second row, and it guesses at the data type, not the formatted data type of the column, i.e., headers are text, so all my metadata is text. If your headers are bold, so is all of your data.

I even tried making a sample data row without success... I don't think anyone actually uses Excel with the default MS SSIS export.

If you could define the "insert range" (A5 to E5) with no header row and format those columns (currency, not bold, etc.) without it skipping a row in Excel, this would be very helpful. From what I gather, noone uses SSIS to export Excel without a third party connection manager.

Any ideas on how to set this up properly so that data is formatted correctly, i.e., the metadata read from Excel is proper to the real data, and formatting inherits from the first row of data, not the headers in Excel?

One last update (July 17, 2009)

I got this to work very well. One thing I added to Excel was the IMEX=1 in the Excel connection string: "Excel 8.0;HDR=Yes;IMEX=1". This forces Excel (I think) to look at all rows to see what kind of data is in it. Generally, this does not drop information, say for instance if you have a zip code then about 9 rows down you have a zip+4, Excel without this blanks that field entirely without error. With IMEX=1, it recognizes that Zip is actually a character field instead of numeric.

And of course, one more update (August 27, 2009)

The IMEX=1 will succeed importing data with missing contents in the first 8 rows, but it will fail exporting data where no data exists. So, have it on your import connection string, but not your export Excel connection string.

I have to say, after so much fiddling, it works pretty well.

P.S. If you are using a x64 bit version, make sure you call the DTExec from C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\DTS.x86\Binn. It will load the 32 bit Excel driver and work fine.


Would it be easier to create the Excel Workbook in a script task, then just pick it up later in the flow?

The engine part of SSIS is good but the integration with Excel is awful

"Using SSIS in conjunction with Excel is like having hot tar funnelled up your iHole in a road cone"

Dr. Zim, I believe you were the one that originally brought up this question. I totally feel your pain. I love SSIS overall, but I absolutely hate the limited tools that come standard for Excel. All I want to do is Bold the Heading or Row1 record in Excel, and not bold the following records. I have not found a great way to do that; granted I am approaching this with no script tasks or custom extensions, but you would think something this simple would be a standard option. Looks like I may be forced to research and program up something fancy for a task that should be so fundamental. I've already spent a rediculous amount of time on this myself. Does anyone know if you can use Excel XML with Excel versions: 2000/XP/2003? Thanks.

This is an old thread but what about using a flat file connection and writing the data out as a formatted html document. Set the mime type in the page header to "application/excel". When you send the document as an attachment and the recipient opens the attachment, it will open a browser session but should pop Excel up over the top of it with the data formatted according to the style (CSS) specified in the page.

Can you have SSIS write the data to an Excel sheet starting at A1, then create another sheet, formatted as you like, that refers to the other sheet at A1, but displays it as A4? That is, on the "pretty" sheet, A4 would refer to A1 on the SSIS sheet.

This would allow SSIS to do what it's good for (manipulate table-based data), but allow the Excel to be formatted or manipulated however you'd like.

When excel is the destination in SSIS, or the target export type in SSRS, you do not have much control over formatting and specifying how you want the final file to be. I have written a custom excel rendering engine for SSRS once, as my client was so strict about the format of final Excel report generated. I used 'Excel xml' to get the job done inside my custom renderer. May be you can use XML output and convert it to Excel XML using XSLT.

I understand you would rather not use a script component so perhaps you could create your own custom task using the code that a script contains so that others can use this in the future. Check here for an example.

If this seems feasible the solution I used was CarlosAg Excel Xml Writer Library. With this you can create code which is similar to using the Interop library but produces excel in xml format. This avoids using the Interop object which can sometimes lead to excel processes hanging around.

Instead of using a roundabout way to do this exercise of trying to write data to particular cell(s), format the cell(s), style them which is indeed a very tedius effort considering the support SSIS has for EXCEL, we could go the "template" way to do this.

assume we need to write data in the so & so cell with all the custom formating thats done on it. Have all the formatting in a sheet, say "SheetActual", Whereas the cells that will hold the data will actually have Lookups/ refrences/ Formulaes to refer to the original data that SSIS exports in a hidden sheet say "SheetMasterHidden" of the same Excel connection. This "SheetMasterHidden" will essentially hold the master data in default format that SSIS writes data to the excel. This way you need not worry about formatting the data runtime.

Formatting the Excel is a one time work "IF" the formatting dont change very often. If the format changes and the format is decided runtime this solution maynot go very well.

The answer is in the question. Over time, it became a progress status. However, there is SSRS that will create Excel files if you create TABLE presentations. It works pretty well too.

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