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When managing files, smaller tends to be easier.  Smaller file sizes are fast for downloading, uploading, moving, copying, and deleting.

Qualtrax uses multiple file formats, and one of the most common is Excel. In the early years, Excel was proprietary (*.xls) and users were at the mercy of the Microsoft developers.  In recent years, Excel and many other Microsoft products have moved to open source (*.xlsx).  This is great news for us as developers. Now we can read and write Excel files without even having to have Excel installed.

In addition, there are open source tools out there, such as OpenXML, that have great features and are perfect for reading and writing Excel files.

An important feature to Qualtrax and our users is compression (file size).

They say a picture is worth a thousand words,  so let me show you what this means. Notice the file size of the three files below (1,480 KB, 691 KB, 7,753 KB):

These three files are the exact same file saved in three different ways.  If you open them up they are identical. So why the difference in file size?

I’m glad you asked!

The largest file (7,753 KB) is the original Excel proprietary format (*.xls).  If you take that file and save as “Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)”, it shrinks to 1,480 KB. (If you are not converting your files, ask yourself why not.)  Finally there is a second *.xlsx file that was created using OpenXML from Qualtrax code.  It turns out OpenXML allows the programmers at Qualtrax to compress Excel files much better than before.

How is Qualtrax taking advantage of this?

  • We have implemented a framework that takes advantage of OpenXML that can easily tie into and be reused throughout our product
  • For new functionality
  • We can also update existing functionality as we find value add to do so

Qualtrax 2014 R1 has a new feature tied directly to this:

  • Exporting Reports: There is a new “Export to XLSX” feature.  You can find this from our reports.  See below:

What does all this mean for our customers?

  • Smaller files sizes
  • Quicker downloads, uploads, and file management
  • Smaller backups on the server
  • Reduced Qualtrax dependency on Excel or Office installations (OpenXML does not require Excel to be installed)

We are always trying to find a faster, better, smarter way for users to interact with Qualtrax. Compressing .xls files is just one of the ways we are able to do that.

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