The project is in a healthy, maintained state
Xsv is a fast, lightweight parser for Office Open XML spreadsheet files (commonly known as Excel or .xlsx files). It strives to be minimal in the sense that it provides nothing a CSV reader wouldn't, meaning it only deals with minimal formatting and cannot create or modify documents.


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 Project Readme

Xsv .xlsx reader for Ruby

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Xsv is a high performance, lightweight, pure Ruby parser for ISO/IEC 29500 Office Open XML spreadsheets (commonly known as Excel or .xlsx files). It strives to be minimal in the sense that it provides nothing a CSV reader wouldn't. This means it only deals with the minimal required formatting and cannot create or modify documents. Xsv can handle very large Excel files with minimal resources thanks to a custom streaming XML parser that is optimized for the Excel file format.

Xsv is designed for worksheets with a single table of data, optionally with a header row. It only casts values to basic Ruby types (integer, float, date and time) and does not deal with most formatting or more advanced functionality. Xsv has been production-ready since the initial release.

Xsv stands for 'Excel Separated Values', because Excel just gets in the way.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'xsv'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install xsv

Xsv targets ruby >= 2.6 and has a just single dependency, rubyzip. It has been tested successfully with MRI, JRuby, and TruffleRuby. It has no native extensions and is designed to be thread-safe.


Array and hash mode

Xsv has two modes of operation. By default, it returns an array for each row in the sheet:

x ="sheet.xlsx") # => #<Xsv::Workbook sheets=1>

sheet = x.sheets[0]

# Iterate over rows
sheet.each do |row|
  row # => ["header1", "header2"]

# Access row by index (zero-based)
sheet[1] # => ["value1", "value2"]

Alternatively, it can load the headers from the first row and return a hash for every row by calling parse_headers! on the sheet or setting the parse_headers option on open:

# Parse headers for all sheets on open

x ="sheet.xlsx", parse_headers: true)

x.sheets[0][1]   # => {"header1" => "value1", "header2" => "value2"}

# Manually parse headers for a single sheet

x ="sheet.xlsx")

sheet = x.sheets[0]

sheet[0]  # => ["header1", "header2"]


sheet[0] # => {"header1" => "value1", "header2" => "value2"}

Xsv will raise Xsv::DuplicateHeaders if it detects duplicate values in the header row when calling #parse_headers! or when opening a workbook with parse_headers: true to ensure hash keys are unique.

Xsv::Sheet implements Enumerable so along with #each you can call methods like #first, #filter/#select, and #map on it.

Opening a string or buffer instead of filename accepts a filename, or an IO or String containing a workbook. Optionally, you can pass a block which will be called with the workbook as parameter, like File#open. Example of this together:

# Use an existing IO-like object as source

file ="sheet.xlsx") do |workbook|
  puts workbook.inspect

# or even: do |workbook|
  puts workbook.inspect

Prior to Xsv 1.1.0, was used instead of The parameters are identical and the former is maintained for backwards compatibility.

Accessing sheets by name

The sheets can be accessed by index or by name:

x ="sheet.xlsx")

sheet = x.sheets[0] # gets sheet by index

sheet = x.sheets_by_name('Name').first # gets sheet by name

To get all the sheets names:

sheet_names =


Since Xsv treats worksheets like csv files it makes certain assumptions about your sheet:

  • In array mode, your data starts on the first row

  • In hash mode the first row of the sheet contains headers, followed by rows of data

If your data or headers do not start on the first row of the sheet you can tell Xsv to skip a number of rows:

workbook.sheets[0].row_skip = 1

All operations will honour this offset, making the skipped rows unreachable.


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake test to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to

Performance and Benchmarks

Xsv is faster and more memory efficient than other gems because of two things: it only reads values from Excel files and it's based on a SAX-based parser instead of a DOM-based parser. If you want to read some background on this, check out my blog post on Efficient XML parsing in Ruby.

Jamie Schembri did a shootout of Xsv against various other Excel reading gems comparing parsing speed, memory usage, and allocations. Check our his blog post: Faster Excel parsing in Ruby.

Pre-1.0, Xsv used a native extension for XML parsing, which was faster than the native Ruby one (on MRI). But even with the native Ruby version generally Xsv still outperforms the competition.


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at Please provide an .xlsx file with a minimum breaking example that is acceptable for inclusion in the source code repository.


Copyright © Martijn Storck and Xsv contributors

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.