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Excel exports

Evan Miller makes the case for offering xls-exports instead of csv-exports.

Most people of your website’s users are also Excel users. When they export their data as CSV, they’ll probably just bring it into Excel first to have a look around. You should probably offer an explicit XLS export, and take it seriously.


An xls-file is capable of things that ‘ll never be possible in csv:

  • freezing the header row
  • formatting important cells
  • multiple sheets in one file
  • specify numer formatting
  • formulas

In the projects I’ve been working on I’ve been doing this for a couple of months. A nice Laravel package you can use is Laravel Excel.

This is how you export all values from a given repository that returns Eloquent models:

Excel::create($pathToFile, function($excel) {

$excel->sheet('The sheet name', function($sheet) {

$sheet->cells('A1:Z1', function($cells) {
$cells->setBorder('node', 'none', 'solid', 'none');



The result is an excel-file with the header row frozen and underlined and it’s values in bold.

Freek Van der Herten is a partner and developer at Spatie, an Antwerp based company that specializes in creating web apps with Laravel. After hours he writes about modern PHP and Laravel on this blog. When not coding he’s probably rehearsing with his kraut rock band.