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There are not many alternatives when you have to generate xlsx Excel workbooks in Java. The most popular one (Apache POI) includes many features, but when it comes down to huge worksheets it quickly becomes a memory hog.

Its streaming API may mitigate this problem but it introduces several limitations:

  • Its sliding window mechanism prevents you from accessing cells above the current writing position.
  • It writes stuff to a temporary file.
  • It comes with an overhead on the file size because shared strings are disabled by default. Enabling shared strings is likely to consume much more heap if you deal with string values.

So, fastexcel has been created to offer an alternative with the following key points:

  • Limited set of features (basic style support, no graph support yet) and very simple API.
  • Reduced memory footprint and high performance by accumulating only necessary elements. XML stuff is piped to the output stream at the end.
  • Multithreading support: each worksheet in the workbook can be generated by a different thread, while fully supporting shared strings and styles.


In this simple benchmark test, we generate a workbook with a single worksheet containing 100,000 rows and 4 columns. Apache POI (non-streaming) is about 10 times slower than fastexcel and uses 12 times more heap memory. The streaming API of Apache POI is almost on par with fastexcel in terms of performance and uses less heap just because it keeps only 100 rows in memory: see related limitations in the paragraph above.

Generation time

Heap memory usage

Note heap memory usage is measured just before flushing the workbook to the output stream.


  • Java 8+. Build with Maven.
  • Include the following dependency in your POM:


The javadoc for the last release is available here.

Simple workbook

Create a workbook with a single worksheet and a few cells with the different supported data types.

try (OutputStream os = ..., Workbook wb = new Workbook(os, "MyApplication", "1.0");) {
    Worksheet ws = wb.newWorksheet("Sheet 1");
    ws.value(0, 0, "This is a string in A1");
    ws.value(0, 1, new Date());
    ws.value(0, 2, 1234);
    ws.value(0, 3, 123456L);
    ws.value(0, 4, 1.234);

Set properties

General properties:
    .setTitle("title property")
    .setCategory("category property")
    .setSubject("subject property")
    .setKeywords("keywords property")
    .setDescription("description property")
    .setManager("manager property")
    .setCompany("company property")
    .setHyperlinkBase("hyperlinkBase property");

Custom properties:
    .setTextProperty("Test TextA", "Lucy")
    .setTextProperty("Test TextB", "Tony")
    .setDateProperty("Test DateA", Instant.parse("2022-12-22T10:00:00.123456789Z"))
    .setDateProperty("Test DateB", Instant.parse("1999-09-09T09:09:09Z"))
    .setNumberProperty("Test NumberA", BigDecimal.valueOf(202222.23364646D))
    .setNumberProperty("Test NumberB", BigDecimal.valueOf(3.1415926535894D))
    .setBoolProperty("Test BoolA", true)
    .setBoolProperty("Test BoolB", false);

Styles and formatting

Change cell style to bold with a predefined fill pattern:, 0).bold().fill(Fill.GRAY125).set();

Apply formatting to a cell containing a timestamp:

ws.value(0, 0,;, 0).format("yyyy-MM-dd H:mm:ss").set();

Apply conditional formatting of expression type to a cell:, 0).fillColor("FF8800").set(new ConditionalFormattingExpressionRule("LENB(A1)>1", true));

Rotate text in cell:, 0).rotation(90).set();

Set global default font:

wb.setGlobalDefaultFont("Arial", 15.5);

Cell ranges

Set style on a range of cells:

ws.range(0, 0, 10, 10).style().horizontalAlignment("center").italic().set();

Merge cells:

ws.range(0, 0, 10, 10).merge();

Shade alternate rows:

ws.range(0, 0, 10, 10).style().shadeAlternateRows(Color.GRAY2).set();

or shade every Nth row (e.g. every 5th):

ws.range(0, 0, 10, 10).style().shadeRows(Color.GRAY2, 5).set();

Name a cell range (name of a cell range can only include letters, numbers and underscore):

ws.range(0, 0, 0, 10).setName("header");


Note the cells with a formula do not have a value in the generated workbook.

ws.formula(10, 0, "SUM(A1:A10)");
// With Range.toString():
ws.formula(10, 0, "SUM(" + ws.range(0, 0, 9, 0).toString() + ")");

Insert a hyperlink to a cell or range of cells.

ws.hyperlink(0, 0, new HyperLink("", "Baidu"));
ws.range(1, 0, 1, 1).setHyperlink(new HyperLink("./dev_soft/test.pdf", "dev_folder"));

Inline String

The function value(row, col, string) sets the value as a shared string. If there are many duplicate strings, using a shared string can be very efficient in terms of file size. However, if there are many distinct strings, using shared strings can consume a large amount of memory to share these strings. Therefore, you may choose not to share strings to use less memory, even if the file size will be large. In this case, you can use inline strings.

ws.inlineString(0, 0, "Inline String");

Data Table

ws.range(0, 0, 5, 2).createTable()

Additional worksheet features

To keep the sheet in active tab:


Set paper size and page orientation (visible in print preview mode):


Set bottom, top, left, or right margin:


Create a freeze pane (some rows and columns will be kept still while scrolling).
To freeze the first column on the left and the top three rows:

ws.freezePane(1, 3);

Define repeating rows or columns for the print setup.

ws.repeatRows(0, 4); // keep first top 5 rows on each page when printing.
ws.repeatRows(2); // keep the third row on each page when printing.

ws.repeatCols(0, 2); // repeat first three columns (A to C) on each page when printing.
ws.repeatCols(0); // repeat only first column (A) on each page for the print setup.

Hide sheet.


Hide rows or colums


Group rows or colums



Set header and footer content.
To set page enumeration in the top right:

ws.header("page 1 of ?", Position.RIGHT);

To set custom text in the footer (bottom left):

ws.footer("Generated with Fastexcel", Position.LEFT, "Arial", 10);

To provide sheetname in the bottom central position:

ws.footer("sheetname", Position.CENTER, 8);

To set firstPageNumber to 2 (default is 0):


To remove any cell background color or font color for the print setup: (this does not apply to printer color settings, only removes any colored rows etc. - see in print preview)


To revert back the colors for the print setup:


To set the scaling factor to 60 % for the print setup:


To enable autoPageBreaks:


To set fitToPage:


To set fitToWidth to 2 pages with unlimited number of rows:


Multithreaded generation

Each worksheet is generated by a different thread.

try (OutputStream os = ...;  Workbook wb = new Workbook(os, "MyApplication", "1.0");) {
    Worksheet ws1 = wb.newWorksheet("Sheet 1");
    Worksheet ws2 = wb.newWorksheet("Sheet 2");
    CompletableFuture<Void> cf1 = CompletableFuture.runAsync(() -> {
        // Fill worksheet 1
    CompletableFuture<Void> cf2 = CompletableFuture.runAsync(() -> {
        // Fill worksheet 2
    CompletableFuture.allOf(cf1, cf2).get();


The reader part of fastexcel is a streaming alternative of Apache POI. It only reads cell content. It discards styles, graphs, and many other stuff. The API is simplier than streaming API of Apache POI.


In this simple benchmark test, we read a workbook of 65536 lines. We see that Apache Poi (non-streaming) is about 10x times slower than fastexcel read. The streaming API of Apache POI is about 2x times slower. In between there a more developer friendly wrapper around Apache Poi called Excel Streaming Reader (xlsx-streamer).

Reading time


  • Java 8+. Build with Maven.
  • Include the following dependency in your POM:


Simple reading

Open a workbook and read all rows in a streaming way.

try (InputStream is = ...; ReadableWorkbook wb = new ReadableWorkbook(is)) {
    Sheet sheet = wb.getFirstSheet();
    try (Stream<Row> rows = sheet.openStream()) {
        rows.forEach(r -> {
            BigDecimal num = r.getCellAsNumber(0).orElse(null);
            String str = r.getCellAsString(1).orElse(null);
            LocalDateTime date = r.getCellAsDate(2).orElse(null);

You can read all rows to a list with:

List<Row> rows =;

Iterate on row to get all cells.

Row row = ...;
row.forEach(cell -> {

More Information

Reading and Writing of encryption-protected documents

This project does not implement read-write encryption protected excel documents, but it can be realized by combining poi and poi-ooxml. This test class is a reference implementation : EncryptionTest