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A Rails plugin to provide templates for the axlsx gem
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Axlsx-Rails — Axlsx templates for Rails views

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In your Gemfile:

gem 'axlsx_rails'


  • Rails 3.1, tested on 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, and 4.2.0.beta4
  • As of 0.2.0 requires Axlsx 2.0.1, which requires rubyzip 1.0.0
  • As of Rails 4.1 you must use render_to_string to render a mail attachment.



Axlsx-Rails provides a renderer and a template handler. It adds the :xlsx format and parses .xlsx.axlsx templates. This lets you take all the Axlsx code out of your controller or model and place it inside the template, where view code belongs! See this blog post for a more complete walkthrough.


To use Axlsx-Rails set your instance variables in your controller and configure the response if needed:

class ButtonController < ApplicationController
  def action_name
    @buttons = Button.all
    respond_to do |format|


Create the template with the .xlsx.axlsx extension (action_name.xlsx.axlsx for example.) Watch out for typos! In the template, use xlsx_package variable to create your spreadsheet:

wb = xlsx_package.workbook
wb.add_worksheet(name: "Buttons") do |sheet|
  @buttons.each do |button|
    sheet.add_row [, button.category, button.price]

This is where you place all your Axlsx specific markup. Add worksheets, fill content, merge cells, add styles. See the Axlsx examples page to see what you can do.

That's it. Call your action and your spreadsheet will be delivered.

Rendering Options

You can call render in any of the following ways:

# rendered, no disposition/filename header
render 'buttons'
# rendered from another controller, no disposition/filename header
render 'featured/latest'
# template and filename of 'buttons'
render xlsx: 'buttons'
# template from another controller, filename of 'latest_buttons'
render xlsx: 'latest_buttons', template: 'featured/latest'


To specify a disposition (such as inline so the spreadsheet is opened inside the browser), use the disposition option:

render xlsx: "buttons", disposition: 'inline'

If render xlsx: is called, the disposition defaults to attachment.

File name

If Rails calls Axlsx through default channels (because you use format.xlsx {} for example) you must set the filename using the response header:

format.xlsx {
  response.headers['Content-Disposition'] = 'attachment; filename="my_new_filename.xlsx"'

If you use render xlsx: the gem will try to guess the file name:

# filename of 'buttons'
render xlsx: 'buttons'
# filename of 'latest_buttons'
render xlsx: 'latest_buttons', template: 'featured/latest'

If that fails, pass the :filename parameter:

render xlsx: "action_or_template", filename: "my_new_filename.xlsx"

Acts As Xlsx

If you use acts_as_xlsx, configure the active record normally, but specify the package in the template:

User.to_xlsx package: xlsx_package, (other options)

Note: As of 4/1/2014 Acts As Xlsx is not compatible with Rails 4.1, and generates a warning on 4.0. You may use my patched fork until it is remedied.

Axlsx Package Options

Axlsx provides three options for initializing a spreadsheet:

  • :xlsx_author (String) - The author of the document
  • :xlsx_created_at (Time) - Timestamp in the document properties (defaults to current time)
  • :xlsx_use_shared_strings (Boolean) - This is passed to the workbook to specify that shared strings should be used when serializing the package.

To pass these to the new package, pass them to render :xlsx or pass them as local variables.

For example, to set the author name, pass the :xlsx_author parameter to render :xlsx or as a local variable:

render xlsx: "index", xlsx_author: "Elmer Fudd"
render "index", locals: {xlsx_author: "Elmer Fudd"}

Other examples:

render xlsx: "index", xlsx_created_at: 3.days.ago
render "index", locals: {xlsx_use_shared_strings: true}


Partials work as expected:

wb = xlsx_package.workbook
render :partial => 'cover_sheet', :locals => {:wb => wb}
wb.add_worksheet(name: "Content") do |sheet|
  sheet.add_row ['Content']

With the partial simply using the passed variables:

wb.add_worksheet(name: "Cover Sheet") do |sheet|
  sheet.add_row ['Cover', 'Sheet']


To use an xlsx template to render a mail attachment, use the following syntax:

class UserMailer < ActionMailer::Base
  def export(users)
    xlsx = render_to_string handlers: [:axlsx], formats: [:xlsx], template: "users/export", locals: {users: users}
    attachments["Users.xlsx"] = {mime_type: Mime::XLSX, content: xlsx}
  • If the route specifies or suggests the :xlsx format you do not need to specify formats or handlers.
  • If the template (users/export) can refer to only one file (the xlsx.axlsx template), you do not need to specify handlers, provided the formats includes :xlsx.


To generate a template within a script, you need to instantiate an ActionView context. Here are two gists showing how to perform this:



It is easy to get the spelling wrong in the extension name, the format.xlsx statement, or in a render call. Here are some possibilities:

  • If it says your template is missing, check that its extension is .xlsx.axlsx.
  • If you get the error uninitialized constant Mime::XSLX you have used format.xslx instead of format.xlsx, or something similar.

Rails 4.2 changes

Before Rails 4.2 you could call:

  render xlsx: "users/index"

And axlsx_rails could adjust the paths and make sure the template was loaded from the right directory. This is no longer possible because the paths are cached between requests for a given controller. As a result, to display a template in another directory you must use the :template parameter (which is normal Rails behavior anyway):

  render xlsx: "index", template: "users/index"

If the request format matches you should be able to call:

  render "users/index"

This is a breaking change if you have the old syntax!

What to do

If you are having problems, try to isolate the issue. Use the console or a script to make sure your data is good. Then create the spreadsheet line by line without Axlsx-Rails to see if you are having Axlsx problems. If you can manually create the spreadsheet, create an issue and we will work it out.




Many thanks to contributors:


Say thanks for Axlsx-Rails by donating! It makes it easier for me to provide to open source:

Click here to lend your support to: Axlsx-Rails!

Change log

November 20th, 2014: 0.3.0 release

  • Support for Rails 4.2.beta4.
  • Removal of shorthand template syntax (render xlsx: 'another/directory')

September 4, 2014: 0.2.1 release

  • Rails 4.2.beta1 no longer includes responder. This release checks for the existence of responder before configuring a default responder.
  • Rails 4.2 testing, though not yet on Travis CI
  • Author, created_at, and use_shared_strings parameters for

April 9, 2014: 0.2.0 release

  • Require Axlsx 2.0.1, which requires rubyzip 1.0.0
  • Better render handling and testing, which might break former usage
  • Rails 4.1 testing
  • Mailer example update (use render_to_string not render)

October 11, 2013

  • Handle (and test) respond_to override

October 4, 2013

  • Added coveralls
  • Raised testing to axlsx 2.0.1, roo 1.12.2, and rubyzip 1.0.0

July 25, 2013

  • Documentation improved
  • Testing for generating partial in mailer

January 18, 2013: 0.1.4 release

  • Now supports Rails 4 (thanks Envek)
  • If you call render :xlsx on a request without :xlsx format, it should force the :xlsx format. Works on Rails 3.2+.

December 6, 2012: 0.1.3 release

  • Fix for absolute template paths

July 25, 2012: 0.1.2 release

  • Partials tested

July 19, 2012: 0.1.1 release

  • Travis-ci added (thanks randym)
  • render statements and filename tests fixes (thanks engwan)

July 17, 2012: 0.1.0 release

  • Tests completed
  • Acts_as_xlsx tested, example in docs

July 12, 2012: 0.0.1 release

  • Initial posting.
  • It works, but there are no tests! Bad programmer!
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