Apache POI Excel

Apache POI is a popular API that allows programmers to create, modify, and display MS Office files using Java programs. This time I will show you how to read an Excel file. First we need to create a Java basic project using lazybones.

lazybones create java-basic excel-reader

Previous command will create this structure

      +- src
          +- main
          |   |
          |   +- java
          +- test
          |   |
          |   +- java

Edit your build.gradle file to add Apache POI dependencies.

ext.apachePoiVersion = '3.15'
ext.groovyVersion = '2.4.8'
ext.spockVersion = '1.1-groovy-2.4-rc-3'

apply plugin: "java"
apply plugin: 'groovy'
apply plugin: "application"

repositories {

dependencies {
  compile "org.apache.poi:poi:$apachePoiVersion"
  compile "org.apache.poi:poi-ooxml:$apachePoiVersion"
  testCompile "org.codehaus.groovy:groovy:$groovyVersion"
  testCompile "org.spockframework:spock-core:$spockVersion"

This is the Excel file we are going to read:

The below code explains how to read an Excel file using Apache POI libraries.

package example;

import java.util.List;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.io.File;
import java.io.FileInputStream;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.io.FileNotFoundException;

import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.Workbook;
import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.Row;
import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.Cell;
import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.Sheet;
import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.CellType;
import org.apache.poi.xssf.usermodel.XSSFWorkbook;

public class ExcelReader {

  List<String> readRows(Integer numberOfRows, File excelFile){
    List content = new ArrayList<ArrayList<String>>();
    List line = new ArrayList<String>();
      FileInputStream fileInputStream = new FileInputStream(excelFile);
      Workbook workbook = new XSSFWorkbook(fileInputStream);
      Sheet sheet = workbook.getSheetAt(0);

      for (Row row : sheet) {
        line = new ArrayList<String>();
        for (Cell cell : row) {
          if (cell.getCellTypeEnum() == CellType.STRING) {
          } else if (cell.getCellTypeEnum() == CellType.NUMERIC) {
    } catch(FileNotFoundException fne){
      throw new ExcelException(fne.getMessage(), fne);
    } catch(IOException ioe){
      throw new ExcelException(ioe.getMessage(), ioe);

    return content;


This is the ExelException:

package example;

import java.lang.RuntimeException;
import java.lang.Throwable;

public class ExcelException extends RuntimeException {

  ExcelException(String message){

  ExcelException(String message, Throwable cause){
    super(message, cause);


To test read Excel funtionality we are using Spock Framework

package example

import spock.lang.Specification

class ExcelReaderSpec extends Specification {

  ExcelReader excelReader = new ExcelReader()

  void "should read Excel rows"(){
    given:"Rows to read"
      Integer numberOfRows = 5
    and:"An excel file"
      File excelFile = new File("src/test/resources/input.xlsx")
    when:"We read rows"
      List<List<String>> result = excelReader.readRows(numberOfRows, excelFile)
    then:"We expect to get content"
    result.size() == 4
    result.get(0) == ['Name', 'Email', 'Ranking']
    result.get(1) == ['josdem','joseluis.delacruz@gmail.com','5.0']
    result.get(2) == ['eric','erich@email.com','5.0']
    result.get(3) == ['martin','martinv@email.com','5.0']


To run the project:

gradle test

To download the code:

git clone https://github.com/josdem/java-topics.git
cd excel-reader

Return to the main article

comments powered by Disqus