Slow PHPExcel Support

Topics: Developer Forum, User Forum
Mar 14, 2011 at 5:00 PM

My new job has been fallen through, and I'm on notice from my old job. This means that I'll be unemployed in two weeks time unless I find a new job elsewhere. I'm sure that you'll appreciate I can't provide 24x7x365 support for PHPExcel until such time as I'm gainfully employed again.

Mar 16, 2011 at 12:41 PM


I really am serious here. I have less than two weeks to get a new job before I find myself on welfare. That is not something I am looking forward to.

The number of requests and "help me" messages and e-mails that I've received has actually increased in the past two days (since my initial post asking for some breathing space). Clearly a lot of people don't care if I can afford to put food on the table for my family or not; but still expect me to be at their beck and call, to write their code for them, or to save them the effort of reading a bit of documentation. My priority in life is not providing free support for PHPExcel... it is to myself and my family. If you think that I'm being selfish in taking that attitude - tough! live with it! For the past four years I have spent an average of over 4 hours a day developing and supporting PHPExcel: that's the equivalent of 180 working days a year... and that's on top of a full-time job, and maintaining a family.

Now, while I am looking for a new job, I do not have the time to answer questions:

  • that have already been answered a hundred times before here on the discussion board (there is a search box)
  • that can be answered just by reading the PHPExcel documentation (it may not be the best documentation ever, but it does answer some questions)
  • that are already flagged up on the issue tracker
  • that are totally unrelated to PHPExcel itself, such as how to select data from a database, or replace characters in a string
  • that can be identified by using standard PHP debugging methods (such as error logging)
  • that can be solved by looking at the source code... Yes!, PHPExcel is simply a set of PHP scripts that can be opened and read using any text editor... that's what "Open Source" means.

PHPExcel is "Free as in beer" as well as "Free as in speech". Apart from the occasional donation, I gain no recompense of any kind for all these hours of development and support. I'm not asking for money now (in case anybody thinks that I am). All I'm asking is that people give a bit of consideration for my current situation, and reduce the demands that supporting their use of PHPExcel makes on my time for a short period until I've managed to find and get myself settled in a new job.

There are things that users can do for themeselves before calling on my help:

  • Read the documentation (both API and the Word documents), and look at the example code in /Tests... you might find a solution to your problem there
  • Enable basic PHP error logging, and look at the error logs. Note that it's better to log to file rather than screen. This can help identify bugs in your own code, as well as potentially real problems in PHPExcel
  • Read/Search the Discussion forum here on as there's a good chance that other users may have raised the same problem, and there may be a solution described in that thread. This applies in particular to anything related to:
    • Charts
    • Out of Memory Errors
    • PDF Output
  • Look at the Issue Tracker to see if your problem is already a known issue... don't simply raise a duplicate issue
  • Double check if you're reading files with setReadDataOnly(true)
  • If you do find a bug in PHPExcel itself, try a few diagnostic tests to try and identify the conditions that cause this bug; describe the problem in detail; test if it applies to all readers/writers or just to one particular reader/writer; does it only happen when running PHPExcel on Windows or on Linux; does it only happen when you're using a particular feature, such as adding an image, or reading a file containing VBA macros, or conditional formatting; try to create a small script, or a small workbook that demonstrates the problem, etc.
    • Open any resultant Excel files that "don't work" in a text editor to see if there are any PHP error messages displayed in the file.
    • Anybody that simply says "It doesn't work" will be ignored... I do not have the time to wade through the entire PHPExcel codebase looking for possible bugs on the offchance that I might find yours (without even knowing what it is).
    • Anybody that sends me 200MB Excel files to demonstrate a problem will be ignored: it should be possible to replicate any bug in a small example
    • Anybody that sends me 10,000 line PHP scripts will be ignored: it should be possible to replicate any bug in a small block of code


Mar 16, 2011 at 1:07 PM
Hi Mark. I really appreciate the code and support you have provided thus
far w/PHPExcel. It's an immensely and uniquely helpful and useful
script-set, much better than any code like it. Good luck in finding your
new job. :)

On 3/16/2011 7:41 AM, MarkBaker wrote:
> I really am serious here. I have less than two weeks to get a new job
> before I find myself on welfare. That is *not *something I am looking
> forward to...
Mar 16, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Hi Mark,


I for one really appreciate all the effort you have put in the development and support of a fantastic php library. I wish you all the best of luck in finding a new and challenging job. (If had one to offer you I certainly would ;).


Kind regards,


Mar 16, 2011 at 6:28 PM
Edited Mar 16, 2011 at 6:29 PM

send a resume to me at sean at

Mar 19, 2011 at 12:30 AM

Sorry to hear about the job Mark!

Maybe it would be a good time to remind users of the convenient, easy to use, donation page you have setup? It'll even make you feel warm and fuzzy!

Thank you for all your hard work, it's appreciated even when it's not vocal. I hope things start looking up!


Apr 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Thanks for the support (and thanks for the offer @seanx820, though I'm not sure your American contacts could have been particularly helpful finding me work, given that I'm based in Britain).

I've just been offered (and accepted) a new role with iBuildings, starting on Monday. For those of you who don't know iBuildings, it's one of the most respected PHP consultancies/development houses in Europe (predominantly Britain, Italy and Benelux), and it's a great opportunity to work with some of the best PHP developers around... hopefully it will help improve the quality of my own code, and this will be reflected in future versions of PHPExcel.

It will take me a little while to get up to speed at iBuildings, to familiarise myself with their business processes and preferred methodologies; but hopefully that shouldn't take too long, and I'll be able to spend more time working on PHPExcel again.


Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Apr 2, 2011 at 8:10 AM

Congratulations! Great news for you (first), your family (second) and the project (last but not least). All the best to you and a good start in your new role!