PHP, SimpleXLS and why I Love Open Source

I found a curious bug in the SimpleXLS module that I used to parse Excel files in my PHP applications.
The bug was quite impressing: a negative number different than -1 caused it to be parsed as a very high positive number. I tried to dig the code in order to both fix the problem and find information useful to compile the bug report, and it seemed to me there was a problem of two’s complemention.
As far as I can understand from the applied patch, it was effectively a two’s complemention problem on the value.

I have to confess, being this module appropriate for Microsoft Excel 97, a file format 22 years old, I was not really hopeful in a solution at all. I don’t want to be harsh, but quite frankly there are out there a lot of other excellent modules that do the very same stuff, and while I like SimpleXLS for being sweet and to the point, I started thinking to use another module.

However, in last then 23 hours I got a feedback and a new version of the module was released**. I quickly tried it, and it worked!

I have to really thank the module author and I cannot emphasize enough how important the Open Source can be! If you don’t believe me, go and try yourself to have the same support from a private company and report it back!

In any case, to be really honest, the bug made me switch from SimpleXLS and SimpleXLSX to PHPOffice. The bug has been just a spark to the change, the real reason was that with PHPOffice I am now able to use the very same module for different Excel-like formats instead of using two different modules. Anyway, I will use SimpleXLS in other projects when a single format is needed.

The article PHP, SimpleXLS and why I Love Open Source has been posted by Luca Ferrari on January 17, 2020