Apache POI

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Apache POI
Jakarta POI Logo
Developer(s) Apache Software Foundation
Stable release 3.11 / December 21, 2014 (2014-12-21)[1]
Operating system Cross-platform
Type API to access Microsoft Office formats
License Apache License 2.0
Website http://poi.apache.org

Apache POI, a project run by the Apache Software Foundation, and previously a sub-project of the Jakarta Project, provides pure Java libraries for reading and writing files in Microsoft Office formats, such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

History and roadmap[edit]

The name was originally an acronym for "Poor Obfuscation Implementation",[2] referring humorously to the fact that the file formats seemed to be deliberately obfuscated, but poorly, since they were successfully reverse-engineered. This explanation – and those of the similar names for the various sub-projects – were removed from the official web pages in order to better market the tools to businesses who would not consider such humor appropriate. The original authors (Andrew C. Oliver and Marc Johnson) also noted the existence of the Hawaiian poi dish, made of mashed taro root, which had similarly derogatory connotations.[3]

Office Open XML support[edit]

POI supports the ISO/IEC 29500:2008 Office Open XML file formats since version 3.5. A significant contribution for OOXML support came from Sourcesense,[4] an open source company which was commissioned by Microsoft to develop this contribution.[5] This link spurred controversy, some POI contributors questioning POI OOXML patent protection regarding Microsoft's Open Specification Promise patent license.[6]


The Apache POI project contains the following subcomponents (meaning of acronyms is taken from old documentation):

  • POIFS (Poor Obfuscation Implementation File System) – This component reads and writes Microsoft's OLE 2 Compound document format. Since all Microsoft Office files are OLE 2 files, this component is the basic building block of all the other POI elements. POIFS can therefore be used to read a wider variety of files, beyond those whose explicit decoders are already written in POI.
  • HSSF (Horrible SpreadSheet Format) – reads and writes Microsoft Excel (XLS) format files. It can read files written by Excel 97 onwards; this file format is known as the BIFF 8 format. As the Excel file format is complex and contains a number of tricky characteristics, some of the more advanced features cannot be read.
  • XSSF (XML SpreadSheet Format) – reads and writes Office Open XML (XLSX) format files. Similar feature set to HSSF, but for Office Open XML files.
  • HPSF (Horrible Property Set Format) – reads "Document Summary" information from Microsoft Office files. This is essentially the information that one can see by using the File|Properties menu item within an Office application.
  • HWPF (Horrible Word Processor Format) – aims to read and write Microsoft Word 97 (DOC) format files. This component is in initial stages of development.
  • HSLF (Horrible Slide Layout Format) – a pure Java implementation for Microsoft PowerPoint files. This provides the ability to read, create and edit presentations (though some things are easier to do than others)
  • HDGF (Horrible DiaGram Format) – an initial pure Java implementation for Microsoft Visio binary files. It provides an ability to read the low level contents of the files.
  • HPBF (Horrible PuBlisher Format) – a pure Java implementation for Microsoft Publisher files.
  • HSMF (Horrible Stupid Mail Format[7][better source needed]) – a pure Java implementation for Microsoft Outlook MSG files.[8]
  • DDF (Dreadful Drawing Format) – a package for decoding the Microsoft Office Drawing format.

The HSSF component is the most advanced feature of the library.[9] Other components (HPSF, HWPF, and HSLF) are usable, but less full-featured.[10][11]

The POI library is also provided as a Ruby[12] or ColdFusion extension.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Apache POI 3.11 released". 2014-12-21. Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  2. ^ Sundaram, Elango (2004-03-22), Excelling in Excel with Java, Java World 
  3. ^ POI homepage from October 2004, Coyote Song, archived from the original on 2004-10-15 , showing original explanations for naming.
  4. ^ SourceSense 
  5. ^ "Microsoft Eyes Open Source Components for Office 2007". Information Week. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2009. 
  6. ^ POI development mailing list archives, March 2008 
  7. ^ Codeplex NPOI, Microsoft 
  8. ^ POI-HSMF, Apache 
  9. ^ POI-HSSF, Apache 
  10. ^ POI-HWPF, Apache 
  11. ^ POI-HSLF, Apache 
  12. ^ POI-Ruby, Apache 

External links[edit]