Excel mark-up

Excel markups in Jxls can be split in 3 parts

  • Bean properties markup
  • Area definition markup
  • Command definition markup

Jxls provides XlsCommentAreaBuilder class which can read the markup from Excel cell comments. XlsCommentAreaBuilder implements generic AreaBuilder interface.

public interface AreaBuilder {
    List<Area> build();

It is a simple interface with a single method which should return a list of Area objects.

So if you want to define your own markup you may create your own implementation of AreaBuilder and interpret the input Excel template (or any other input) as desired.

Bean properties markup

Jxls uses Apache JEXL expression language to process

In future releases the expression language engine will be made configurable so that it will be possible to replace JEXL with any other expression engine if required.

The JEXL expression language syntax is explained here JEXL Syntax.

Jxls expects that JEXL expression is placed in ${ } in XLS template file.

For example the following cell content ${department.chief.age} years tells Jxls to evaluate department.chief.age using JEXL assuming the department object is available in the Context. If for example the expression department.getChief().getAge() evaluates to 35 Jxls will put 35 years in the cell during XlsArea processing.

XLS Area markup

Jxls area markup is used to define root XlsArea(s) to be processed by Jxls engine. XlsCommentAreaBuilder supports the following syntax for area definition as an Excel cell command


Here <LAST_CELL> defines the right bottom cell of the rectangular area. The first cell is defined by the cell where the Excel comment is put on.

So assuming we have the next comment jx:area(lastCell="G12") in cell A1 the root area will be read as A1:G12.

XlsCommentAreaBuilder should be used to read all the areas from the template file. For example the following code snippet reads all the areas into xlsAreaList and then saves the first area into xlsArea variable

    AreaBuilder areaBuilder = new XlsCommentAreaBuilder(transformer);
    List<Area> xlsAreaList = areaBuilder.build();
    Area xlsArea = xlsAreaList.get(0);

In most cases defining of a single root XlsArea should be enough.

Command markup

Commands should be defined inside an XlsArea. XlsCommentAreaBuilder accepts the following command notation created as an Excel cell comment

jx:<command_name>(attr1='val1' attr2='val2' ... attrN='valN' lastCell=<last_cell> areas=["<command_area1>", "<command_area2", ... "<command_areaN>"])

<command_name> is a command name pre-registered or manually registered in XlsCommentAreaBuilder. Currently the following command names are pre-registered

  • each
  • if
  • image

Custom commands may be registered manually with static void addCommandMapping(String commandName, Class clazz) method of XlsCommentAreaBuilder class.

attr1, attr2,…, attrN are the command specific attributes

For example If-Command has condition attribute to set a conditional expression.

<last_cell> defines the bottom right cell of the command body area. The top left cell is determined by the cell where the command notation is attached.

<command_area1>, <command_area2>, … <command_areaN> - XLS areas to be passed to the command as parameter.

For example If-Command expects the following areas to be defined

  • ifArea is a reference to an area to output when the If-command condition evaluates to true
  • elseArea is a reference to an area to output when the If-command condition evaluates to false (optional)

So to define the areas for If-command its areas attribute may look like this


In a single cell comment you can define multiple Commands. For example Each and If command definitions may look like this

jx:each(items="department.staff", var="employee", lastCell="F8")
jx:if(condition="employee.payment <= 2000", lastCell="F8", areas=["A8:F8","A13:F13"])