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PHP Excel 1.8.0 / PHP7 on Ubuntu 16.04 does not work


I am developing on Ubuntu 16.04 and using PHP7.

The library seems to include fine as I do not get any issue reported
require_once '../toolbox/PHPExcel-1.8.0/Classes/PHPExcel.php';

whenever I call a PHP Excel method the system does not return any indicator what is going wrong.
$inputFileType = PHPExcel_IOFactory::identify($this->_targetFile);

I have put the statements within a Try... Catch
catch (Exception $e) {
            echo 'error : '.$e->getMessage();
However the process aborts without any notification at all.

can somebody help me with this issue please ?