to_xls gem

This gem transform an Enumeration (i.e. an Array) into an excel file using the spreadsheet gem.

It is (very slightly) oriented towards exporting ActiveRecord sets, but it can be used outside of Rails as well.


@users = User.all

@users.to_xls                        # by default, it exports using the "attributes" field on the first item of the collection
@users.to_xls(:name => "Users")      # specifies the Sheet name (by default Sheet1)
@users.to_xls(:headers => false)     # don't include headers
@users.to_xls(:columns => [:name, :role]) # include only these columns, on this order
@users.to_xls(:columns => [:name, {:company => [:name, :address]}]) # able to pick associations/called methods
@users.to_xls(:columns => [:name, {:company => [:name, :address]}], :headers => ['Name', 'Company', 'Address']) # provide better names for the associated columns


This gem includes a simplified way to change the format of the cells. Also this gem provides a simplified way for changing the format of the headers.

To change the format of the cells and headers the code should be like this:

User.all.to_xls :cell_format => {:color => :blue}, :header_format => {:weight => :bold, :color => :red}

To have a full list of the format admited for the cells and headers you may have a look on the source code of spreadsheet gem. This gem runs under to_xls, so the format supported by this gem are the ones of spreadsheet.

Example of use in Rails

In the controller where you want to export to excel, add the format.xls line.

class UserController < ApplicationController

  def index
    @users = User.all

    respond_to do |format|
      format.xml { render :xml => @users }
      format.xls { send_data @users.to_xls, :filename => 'users.xls' }


On rails, you might want to modify config/initializers/mime_types.rb and register a custom mime type there:

Mime::Type.register "application/", :xls


  • spreadsheet gem (automatically included if you require to_xls)

Installing on rails 2.x

Include next gems in your environment.rb config file:

config.gem 'to_xls'

Then execute

rake gems:install

Installing on rails 3.x

In your Gemfile

gem 'to_xls'

Then execute

bundle install


You can export to a file or spreadsheet book using the internal ToXls::Writer class:, :name => 'Users').write_io(file) # writes to a given file, :name => 'Users').write_book(book) # writes to a spreadsheet book (adds a new sheet)

The options of, options) are the same as in to_xls.

Contributing to to_xls

  • Check out the latest master to make sure the feature hasn't been implemented or the bug hasn't been fixed yet

  • Check out the issue tracker to make sure someone already hasn't requested it and/or contributed it

  • Fork the project

  • Start a feature/bugfix branch

  • Commit and push until you are happy with your contribution

  • Make sure to add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.

  • Please try not to mess with the Rakefile, version, or history. If you want to have your own version, or is otherwise necessary, that is fine, but please isolate to its own commit so I can cherry-pick around it.

Copyright © 2011 Splendeo Innovación. See MIT-LICENSE.txt for further details.


  • Ian Link & mlecho helped implementing the formats



  • to_xls now extends Enumerable instead of Array

  • Included :cell_format and :header_format options

  • Used bundler instead of jeweller