Our Excel spreadsheets hold a lot of valuable data in their dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of cells and rows. With that much clean, formatted digital data at our disposal, it’s up to us to find programmatic methods for extracting and sharing that data among other important documents in our file ecosystem.
Thankfully, Microsoft made that extremely easy to do when they switched their file representation standard over to OpenXML more than 15 years ago. This open-source XML-based approach drastically improved the accessibility of all Office document contents by basing their structure on well-known technologies – namely Zip and XML – which most software developers intimately understand. Before that, Excel (XLS) files were stored in a binary file format known as BIFF (Binary Interchange File Format), and other proprietary binary formats were used to represent additional Office files like Word (DOC).