“SYLK: File format is not valid”

Recently I was involved in a project that required producing a CSV file as output. To convert the output in Microsoft Excel format, I used Google Docs where I uploaded the CSV file and exported it as a .xls. When trying to open the file from Excel, one would get the following (not very helpful) message:

SYLK: File format is not valid

SYLK are files typically used to exchange data between applications. Fortunately, Microsoft has documented the problem:

A SYLK file is a text file that begins with “ID” or “ID_xxxx”, where xxxx is a text string. The first record of a SYLK file is the ID_Number record. When Excel identifies this text at the beginning of a text file, it interprets the file as a SYLK file. Excel tries to convert the file from the SYLK format, but cannot do so because there are no valid SYLK codes after the “ID” characters. Because Excel cannot convert the file, you receive the error message.

The quick workaround to the above is to not use “ID” as the first two characters in the CSV file to be imported. And like the article says, this problem does not occur if the first two letters are lowercase “i” and “d”.

Ah, the joys of report generating. Full of slight annoyances…

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