TechTip: SQL2XLSX - The Starter Kit

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Two popular utilities from some years back get updated, and a favorite author from the past resurfaces.

It's been over a decade since I presented two utilities that gave you the ability to create XLS worksheets from an SQL instruction in System i. Now it's time to present a revamped version of these utilities, the new SQL2XLSX command that will allow you to create XLSX worksheets.

I won't discuss details about the differences between XLS and XLSX; let's just say that XLS, created by Microsoft in 2003 (officially designated "Microsoft Excel 97-2003 Worksheet"), is still very popular, but in the Microsoft Office 2007 release, Microsoft decided to change the default file format to XLSX, based on the Office Open XML format.

You can get several benefits from using the new XLSX format; for example, in terms of the file size issue, it is reported that the new XLSX files can be up to 75 percent smaller than the old XLS files. Furthermore, in an XLS workbook, the limit is 65,536 rows and 256 columns while XLSX workbooks limits are increased to 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns.

XLSX is stored in a text file format, while XLS was stored in binary format. Therefore, the old macro support for this new file format is no longer supported, and Microsoft assigned a totally different file extension that allows the use of macros; it is named XLSM. The standard XLS file was able to hold spreadsheets that contain macros or not.

You can find more detailed info on Office Open XML format here.

Are you eager to build and try the new SQL2XLSX command that allows you to create both XLSX and XLSM? Let's do that.

In this article, I will give you the code and the instructions needed to create basic XLSX worksheets. You could create XLSM as well; just read the warnings at the end of the article.

You should be able to run this command on your system if your OS is between V5R3 and V7Rxx, provided that you have at least Java 6 installed (if you are still at V5R3/R4, you may need additional jar files, which you can find and download from the web; if you get errors while running the command on old releases, specify the JDEBUG(*YES) option and see what's missing). You can check the current Java version by typing QSH CMD('java -version') from the command line and the Java versions available by typing DSPLNK OBJ('/QOpenSys/QIBM/ProdData/JavaVM/*').

This SQL2XLSX command relies on POI Apache libraries as well, but you will see that if you want to create XLSX worksheets, you need more jars than in the past. You can find all in the official Apache POI - the Java API for Microsoft Documents site.

In order to have this utility running on earlier OS releases, instead of downloading the latest Apache POI library version, we'll use POI 3.9 because this is the latest one that runs with Java 6 on V5R3. A version implemented with the latest (at time of writing) Apache POI 1.17 will be presented in a future article.

That said, you can start to implement this utility by creating a subdirectory in your system where you will put the Apache POI jar files. Provided that in the past you already created the main directory /excel as required in the original SQL2XLS version, now create a new subdirectory in it with MD DIR('/excel/poi-3.9'). If you haven't yet created the main /excel directory, create it and then create the subdirectory in it.

Now connect to the download section of the Apache POI - the Java API for Microsoft Documents site and download the on your desktop.

Then extract and copy the following jar files into the subdirectory /excel/poi-3.9 you just created:


Rename them:


You can rename with Navigator or from the command line:

RNM ('/excel/poi-3.9/poi-3.9-20121203.jar') NEWOBJ('poi-3.9.jar')  


In the downloaded zip file within the folder ooxml-lib, you will find the following jar files:


You must also extract these and copy them into your subdirectory.

At the end, just to make sure that the required jars are in the right place, use this command to check:

DSPLNK OBJ('/excel/poi-3.9/*') DETAIL(*NAME)

101317CostagliolaFigure1 compressed 

Figure 1: Ensure that your jar files are in your subdirectory.

Now download the zip file of code onto your desktop.

Extract and copy SQL2XLSX(CMD), SQL2XLSXC (CLLE), and SQL2XLSXR (RPGLE) into a source file and compile as usual. Remember to create the SQL2XLSX command with parameter PGM(SQL2XLSXC).

Extract and copy the into the /excel directory and create the .class file. To do so, create a CLP source member and paste the following QSH command into it:

QSH CMD('javac +
         -classpath /QIBM/ProdData/OS400/jt400/lib/jt400.jar:+
         /excel/ojdbc14.jar: +
         -d /excel +

Compile the CLP and run it.

The jtds.jar and ojdbc14.jar are needed if you want to extract data from SQL server or an Oracle database; otherwise, they are not necessary.

That's all. Now you should be able to create XLSX worksheets.

Create the Worksheets

As I mentioned, the command presented here is a revamped version of the original SQL2XLS and SQL2POI commands presented in 2004. SQL2XLSX has some new parameters, but old SQL2XLS/SQL2POI parameters are consistent within both implementations; therefore, you could easily replace old command calls with this new one. In this version, when using templates, you can put the same file name into TOXLS and FROMXLS parameters, which allows you to easily create a multi-sheet XLSX. The new parameter SETLIBL(*LIBL) makes the Java thread run with the library list of the requester.

Just be aware of the following:

  • While an XLSX worksheet can hold up to 1,048,576 rows, the command version presented here (the starter kit) runs in XSSF mode; this means that, while the command runs, rows and columns are prepared and kept in memory, but the final XLSX is written to disk, and memory is freed only at the end of the process. This means that you can create your worksheet with a reasonable number of rows (say, like the old XLS limits). In a future article, you will find a SXSSF low-memory version that writes data in a small temporary buffer and flushes them while the buffer is full. Then you will be able to reach the 1,048,576 with a low memory usage without crashing the system.
  • The POI 3.9 contains a bug fixed in more POI recent releases: each extraction leaves a poi-sxssf-sheetnnnnnnnnnnn.xml file in the /tmp directory. I suggest you periodically clear them by running the command DEL PARM('poi-sxssf-sheet*.xml').
  • When explaining the differences between XLS and XLSX, I've mentioned that the new worksheet with macros differs from the old one. SQL2XLSX preserves existing macros contained in the template as do the old versions. But now, if you plan to create a worksheet with macros, both the template (that has macros inside) and the final file must have the XLSM extension, and you should download the additional poi-ooxml-schemas-1.0.jar file. Consider that this jar file has a size of 14 MB and is not needed for XLSX files.


Giuseppe Costagliola is a programmer in Turin, Italy. You can reach him

More Articles By This Author
Related Articles


Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.