HOW TO: Transfer XML Data to Microsoft Excel 2002 by Using Visual Basic .NET

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SUMMARY

Excel 2002 introduces functionality for opening files in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. An XML file that is well-formed can be opened directly in Excel 2002 or Excel 2003 by using either the user interface or code.

With Visual Basic .NET, you can take advantage of Excel's XML functionality to seamlessly transfer data to a workbook to present the data with formatting and an arrangement of your choice. This article demonstrates how to accomplish this task.

Generate XML from a DataSet For Use In Excel 2002 or Excel 2003

This section illustrates how to create a DataSet object and export the data that it contains to an XML file by using the WriteXML method. The XML file that is generated can be opened directly in Excel. For illustration purposes, the DataSet object is created from the Microsoft Access Northwind sample database by using the Jet OLEDB Provider. However, similar code works with any DataSet object that you create with Visual Basic .NET.
  1. Start Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. On the File menu, click New and then click Project. Select Windows Application from the Visual Basic Projects types. Form1 is created by default.
  2. On the View menu, select Toolbox to display the Toolbox and add a button to Form1.
  3. Double-click Button1. The code window for the Form appears.
  4. Add the following private member variable to the Form1 class:
        Private strConn As String = "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=" & _
                "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\Samples\Northwind.mdb;"
    					
    NOTE: You may need to modify the path to Northwind.mdb in the connection string to match your installation.

  5. Add the following code to the Button1_Click handler:
            'Connect to the data source.
            Dim objConn As New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbConnection(strConn)
    
            Try
            objConn.Open()
    
            'Fill a dataset with records from the Customers table.
            Dim strSQL As String
            Dim objDataset As New DataSet()
            Dim objAdapter As New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbDataAdapter()
            strSQL = "Select CustomerID, CompanyName, ContactName, " & _
                     "Country, Phone from Customers"
            objAdapter.SelectCommand = New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbCommand( _
                strSQL, objConn)
            objAdapter.Fill(objDataset)
    
            ' Create the FileStream to write with.
            Dim strFilename As String
            strFilename = "C:\Customers.xml"
            Dim fs As New System.IO.FileStream(strFilename, _
                System.IO.FileMode.Create)
    
            'Create an XmlTextWriter for the FileStream.
            Dim xtw As New System.Xml.XmlTextWriter(fs, _
                System.Text.Encoding.Unicode)
    
            'Add processing instructions to the beginning of the XML file, one 
            'of which indicates a style sheet.
            xtw.WriteProcessingInstruction("xml", "version='1.0'")
            'xtw.WriteProcessingInstruction( _
            '    "xml-stylesheet", "type='text/xsl' href='customers.xsl'")
    
            'Write the XML from the dataset to the file.
            objDataset.WriteXml(xtw)
            xtw.Close()
    
            MsgBox("Customer data has been exported to C:\Customers.xml.")
    
            Catch ex As Exception
                    MsgBox(ex.Message)
            End Try
    					
  6. Press F5 to build and run the program.
  7. Click Button1 to create the XML file, then close Form1 to end the program.
  8. Start Excel 2002 or Excel 2003 and open the C:\Customers.xml output file.
  9. After you have observed how the XML has been parsed into rows and columns in the new workbook, close the file and quit Excel.

Format the XML Using a Stylesheet

This step shows you how to use a stylesheet (XSL) to transform how XML data is formatted and arranged in an Excel workbook.
  1. Using any HTML editor or a text editor (such as Notepad.exe), save the following XSL as C:\Customers.xsl:
    <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" version="1.0">
      <xsl:template match="/">
        <HTML>
          <HEAD>
            <STYLE>   
              .HDR { background-color:bisque;font-weight:bold }
            </STYLE>
          </HEAD>
          <BODY>
            <TABLE>
              <COLGROUP WIDTH="100" ALIGN="CENTER"></COLGROUP>
              <COLGROUP WIDTH="200" ALIGN="LEFT"></COLGROUP>
              <COLGROUP WIDTH="200" ALIGN="LEFT"></COLGROUP>
              <COLGROUP WIDTH="100" ALIGN="LEFT"></COLGROUP>
              <COLGROUP WIDTH="100" ALIGN="LEFT"></COLGROUP>
              <TD CLASS="HDR">Customer ID</TD>
              <TD CLASS="HDR">Company</TD>
              <TD CLASS="HDR">Contact</TD>
              <TD CLASS="HDR">Country</TD>
              <TD CLASS="HDR">Phone</TD>
              <xsl:for-each select="NewDataSet/Table">
                <TR>
                  <TD><xsl:value-of select="CustomerID"/></TD>
                  <TD><xsl:value-of select="CompanyName"/></TD>
                  <TD><xsl:value-of select="ContactName"/></TD>
                  <TD><xsl:value-of select="Country"/></TD>
                  <TD><xsl:value-of select="Phone"/></TD>
                </TR>
              </xsl:for-each>
            </TABLE>
          </BODY>
        </HTML>
      </xsl:template>
    </xsl:stylesheet> 
    					
  2. Uncomment the following line of code in the Button1_Click handler:
            xtw.WriteProcessingInstruction( _
                "xml-stylesheet", "type='text/xsl' href='customers.xsl'")
    					
    This line of code writes a processing instruction to the XML file that Excel uses to locate the stylesheet (Customers.xsl).

  3. Press F5 to build and run the program.
  4. Click Button1 to create the XML file, then close Form1 to end the program.
  5. Start Excel 2002 or Excel 2003 and open the C:\Customers.xml output file.
  6. Because Excel sees the processing instruction for the stylesheet in the XML, you receive a dialog box prompt when you open the file. In the Import XML dialog box, select Open the file with the following stylesheet applied. In the list, select Customers.xsl and click OK. Note that the XML data is formatted and that the columns have been arranged according to the stylesheet.
  7. Close the file and quit Excel.

Use Code to Open the Transformed XML

Up to this point, you have opened the XML file by using the user interface in Excel. This section demonstrates how to automate Excel to open the workbook programmatically. The following sample illustrates how to open the transformed XML without user intervention by first transforming the XML in the DataSet object to HTML.
  1. In the Visual Basic .NET project, add another button to Form1.
  2. Double-click Button2. When the code window for the form appears, add the following code to the Button2_Click handler:
            'Connect to the data source.
            Dim objConn As New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbConnection(strConn)
            objConn.Open()
    
            'Fill a dataset with records from the Customers table.
            Dim strSQL As String
            Dim objDataset As New DataSet()
            Dim objAdapter As New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbDataAdapter()
            strSQL = "Select CustomerID, CompanyName, ContactName, " & _
                     "Country, Phone from Customers"
            objAdapter.SelectCommand = New System.Data.OleDb.OleDbCommand( _
                strSQL, objConn)
            objAdapter.Fill(objDataset)
    
            ' Create the FileStream to write with.
            Dim strFilename As String
            strFilename = "C:\Customers.htm"
            Dim fs As New System.IO.FileStream(strFilename, _
                System.IO.FileMode.Create)
    
            'Create an XmlTextWriter for the FileStream.
            Dim xtw As New System.Xml.XmlTextWriter(fs, _
                System.Text.Encoding.Unicode)
    
            'Transform the XML using the stylesheet.
            Dim xmlDoc As System.Xml.XmlDataDocument = _
                New System.Xml.XmlDataDocument(objDataset)
            Dim xslTran As System.Xml.xsl.XslTransform = _
                New System.Xml.Xsl.XslTransform()
            xslTran.Load("c:\customers.xsl")
            xslTran.Transform(xmlDoc, Nothing, xtw)
    
            'Write the transformed XML to the file.
            objDataset.WriteXml(xtw)
            xtw.Close()
    
            'Start Excel and open the resulting file.
            Dim oExcel As Object
            oExcel = CreateObject("Excel.Application")
            oExcel.Workbooks.Open("C:\Customers.htm")
    
            'Make Excel visible and give the user control of the application.
            oExcel.Visible = True
            oExcel.UserControl = True
    					
  3. Press F5 to build and run the program.
  4. Click Button2 to open the transformed XML in Microsoft Excel.
NOTE: While the Excel 2002 and Excel 2003 Object Model does expose an OpenXML method that enables you to programmatically open an XML file with stylesheets applied, the previous sample does not call this method due to a known problem with using this method from an Automation client. The OpenXML method works as expected when it is called from an Excel macro; however, when this method called from an Automation client, the StyleSheet parameter is ignored. For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307230 BUG: StyleSheets Parameter of the OpenXML Method Ignored When Automating Excel 2002

REFERENCES

For more information, see the following Knowledge Base articles:
288215 INFO: Microsoft Excel 2002 and XML
301982 HOWTO: Automate Microsoft Excel from Visual Basic .NET
306022 HOW TO: Transfer Data to an Excel Workbook by Using Visual Basic .NET
285891 HOWTO: Use Visual Basic or ASP to Create an XML Spreadsheet for Excel 2002
320369 BUG: "Old Format or Invalid Type Library" Error When Automating Excel 2002

Properties

Article ID: 307021 - Last Review: December 12, 2003 - Revision: 6.2
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2002 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft ADO.NET (included with the .NET Framework)
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbhowtomaster KB307021

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