Easily Make Multi-tabbed .xlsx Files with openxlsx

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This is a quick script showing how to make multi-tabbed .xlsx files. I recently had the need to do this and used the flexible openxlsx package maintained by : Alexander Walker.

The package is described by the author like this:

openxlsx: Read, Write and Edit XLSX Files

Simplifies the creation of Excel .xlsx files by providing a high level interface to writing, styling and editing worksheets. Through the use of ‘Rcpp’, read/write times are comparable to the ‘xlsx’ and ‘XLConnect’ packages with the added benefit of removing the dependency on Java.

This can make a repetitive task where the deliverable is a multi-tabbed Excel workbook a scriptable task. I only used a small part of the package’s capabilities and found the tools easy to use. The basic gist in the way I used the packages was to:

  1. Create a workbook object in R
  2. Add data sets to it (each data set is a tab)
  3. Write it out to a file

There is also tooling to do all sorts of styling and other ways to impress your boss.


## Load dependencies
if (!require('openxlsx')) install.packages('openxlsx')

## Split data apart by a grouping variable;
##   makes a named list of tables
dat <- split(mtcars, mtcars$cyl)

## Create a blank workbook
wb <- createWorkbook()

## Loop through the list of split tables as well as their names
##   and add each one as a sheet to the workbook
Map(function(data, name){

    addWorksheet(wb, name)
    writeData(wb, name, data)

}, dat, names(dat))

## Save workbook to working directory
saveWorkbook(wb, file = "example.xlsx", overwrite = TRUE)


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