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SYmbolic LinK (SYLK)

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Symbolic Link (SYLK) is a Microsoft file format typically used to exchange data between applications, specifically spreadsheets]. SYLK files conventionally have a .slk suffix. From within a spreadsheet data can be exported in the SYLK format. Comprised of only displayable ANSI characters, it can be easily created and processed by other applications, such as databases.

Microsoft does not publish a SYLK specification. Variants of the format are supported by Multiplan, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Works, OpenOffice.org, and Gnumeric.

Note that even if a SYLK file is created by an application that supports Unicode (for example Microsoft Excel), the SYLK file will be encoded in the current system's ANSI code page, not in Unicode. If the application contained characters that were displayable in Unicode but have no codepoint in the current system's code page, they will be converted to question marks ('?') in the SYLK file.

Sample SYLK code

As an example, the following SYLK code in a text file with the .slk extension:

ID;P
C;Y1;X1;K"Row 1"
C;Y2;X1;K"Row 2"
C;Y3;X1;K"Total"
C;Y1;X2;K11
C;Y2;X2;K22
C;Y3;X2;K0;ER1C2+R2C2
E

would be displayed like this when read by an appropriate spreadsheet:


Row 1 11
Row 2 22
Total 33

Sample SYLK code (for numeric formatting)

The formatting of 2 decimal digits is applied to Column 2 using
F;P2;C2

where P0 is for General, P1 is for no decimal, P2 is for 2 digits, P3 has leading $ sign with 2 decimal points as defined below.

ID;P
P;PGeneral
P;P_(* #,##0_);;_(* \-#,##0_);;_(* "-"_);;_(@_)
P;P_(* #,##0.00_);;_(* \(#,##0.00\);;_(* "-"??_);;_(@_)
P;P_("$"* #,##0.00_);;_("$"* \(#,##0.00\);;_("$"* "-"??_);;_(@_)
C;Y1;X1;K"Row 1"
C;Y2;X1;K"Row 2"
C;Y3;X1;K"Total"
C;Y1;X2;K11
C;Y2;X2;K22
C;Y3;X2;K0;ER1C2+R2C2
F;P2;C2
E

would be displayed like this when read by an appropriate spreadsheet:


Row 1 11.00
Row 2 22.00
Total 33.00

Sample SYLK code (for column width)

 F;W< n1 > [S] < n2 > [S] < n3 > defines the widths of a group of columns:
[S] is one space
< n1 > is the first column
< n2 > is the last column
< n3 > is the width of columns in number of characters<BR>

For example : Adding these SYLK codes will adjust the column width of column 1 and 2 to 20 and 30 respectively.

F;W1 1 20
F;W2 2 30

Sample SYLK code (cell formatting properties)

 ;F < cl > < n > < c2 >
< cl > is one of the following 1-character formatting codes:
D default
C continuous cross-cell display
E scientific exponentiation
F fixed decimal point
G general format
$ leading$and2decimal points
*  bar graph, one asterisk per unit (5 would be *****)
< n > is the number of digits.
< c2 > is one of the following 1-character alignment codes:
D default
C center
G general(textleft, numbersright) 
L left justify
R right justify

For Example : The following SYLK code demonstrates the cell formatting properties

 ID;P
 P;PGeneral
 C;Y1;X1;K"Row 1 Left Justify"
 F;P0;FG0L
 C;Y2;X1;K"Row 2 Right Justify"
 F;P0;FG0R
 C;Y3;X1;K"Total at Center"
 F;P0;FG0C
 C;Y1;X2;K11
 C;Y2;X2;K22
 C;Y3;X2;K0;ER1C2+R2C2
 F;Y1;X2;FF2L
 F;Y2;X2;FF2R
 F;Y3;X2;F$2C
 F;W1 2 25
 E

SYLK Syntax

SYLK_file ::=
	Record +

Record ::=
	RecordType Field* newline

ID record:
Use:
	A header to identify spreadsheet type and creator.
	Must be first record in the file.
Record type:
	ID
Mandatory fields:
	;P program
		-- file creator
		-- possible creators include:
		-- MP (Multiplan)
		-- XL (Excel)
Possible fields:
	;N
		-- If present, file uses ;N style cell protection
		-- If absent, file uses ;P style cell protection
	;E
		-- If present, NE records are redundant
		-- If absent, NE records are not redundant

B record
Use:
	Tells number of rows and columns in the spreadsheet.
	Recommended that it come before C and F records
Record type:
	B
Mandatory fields:
	;X columns
		-- tells maximum number of columns
	;Y rows
		-- tells maximum number of rows

C record
Use:
	Cell contents
Record type:
	C
Mandatory fields:
	;X column
		-- column position (one based)
	;Y row
		-- row position (one based)
Possible fields:
	;E expression
		-- expression for the cell
	;K value
		-- value of the cell
	;C column
		-- column reference
	;R row
		-- row reference
	;G
		-- defines shared value
	;D
		-- defines shared expression
	;S
		-- references shared value or shared expression
	;N
		-- If present, the cell is not protected.
		-- If absent and ;N is present in the ID record, cell is protected.
	;P
		-- If present, cell is protected.
		-- If absent and ;N is absent in the ID record, cell is not protected.
	;H
		-- If present, cell is hidden.
		-- If absent, cell is not hidden.
	;M expression
		-- matrix expression from (X,Y) to (C,R)
	;I
		-- inside a matrix
Compatible fields:
	If ;G is present, ;E must be absent.
	If ;G is present, ;K must be present.
	If ;D is present, ;E must be present.
	If ;S is present, ;E, ;K, ;G, ;D, and ;M must be absent.
	If ;S is present, ;R and ;C must be present. (They define the row and column that the shared value/expression is copied from.)
	If ;N is present in the ID record, ;P must be absent.
	If ;N is absent from the ID record, ;N must be absent.
	If ;M is present, ;E must be absent.
	If ;I is present, ;K and ;E must be absent

P record
Use:
	Picture format
	If F records are present, precedes them.
Mandatory fields:
	;P picture
		-- Excel style picture format

F record
Use:
	Format
	If P record(s) are present, follows them.
Possible fields:
	;X column
		-- column (one based)
	;Y row
		-- row (one based)
	;C column
		-- column (one based)
	;R row
		-- row (one based)
	;F format
		-- Cell/row/column format
		-- The format of format is
		-- ch1 digits ch2
		-- ch1 is
		--	D	default
		--	C	currency
		--	E	exponent
		--	F	fixed
		--	G	general
		--	$	dollar
		--	*	graph
		--	%	percent
		-- digits is number of digits after decimal point
		-- ch2 is alignment
		--	D	default
		--	C	center
		--	G	standard
		--	L	left
		--	R	right
		--	-	ignored
		--	X	fill
	;D format
		-- Default format.
		-- The format of format is
		-- ch1 digits ch2
		-- ch1 is
		--	C	currency
		--	E	exponent
		--	F	fixed
		--	G	general
		--	$	dollar
		--	*	graph
		--	%	percent
		-- digits is number of digits after decimal point
		-- ch2 is alignment
		--	C	center
		--	G	standard
		--	L	left
		--	R	right
		--	-	ignored
		--	X	fill
	;E
		-- show formulas
	;K
		-- show commas
	;W col1 col2 width
		-- set column widths
	;N fontid size
		-- font to use
	;P index
		-- Excel picture
	;S style
		-- style
		-- The following characters can be part of style
		--	I	italic
		--	D	bold
		--	T	gridline top
		--	L	gridline left
		--	B	gridline bottom
		--	R	gridline right
	;H
		-- If present, don't show row/column headers
		-- If absent in the entire file, show row/column headers
	;G
		-- If present, don't show default gridlines
		-- If absent in the entire file, show default gridlines
Compatible fields:
	At least one of ;X, ;Y, ;C, ;R, ;D, ;E, ;K, ;W, ;P, ;H, or ;G must be present.
	If ;X or ;Y is present, both ;X and ;Y must be present. (This sets cell format.)
	If ;X is present, ;R, ;C, ;E, ;K, ;W, ;N, ;H, ;G must be absent.
	If ;R is present, ;X, ;Y, ;C, ;E, ;K, ;W, ;N, ;H, ;G must be absent. (This sets default row format.)
	If ;C is present, ;X, ;Y, ;R, ;E, ;K, ;W, ;N, ;H, ;G must be absent. (This sets default column format.)
	If ;D is present, ;X, ;Y, ;R, ;C must be absent. (This sets default spreadsheet format.)
	If ;X, ;Y, ;R, ;C are present, ;P and/or ;F and/or ;S must be present.

O record
Use:
	Options
Possible fields:
	;A iter delta
		-- If present, allow value iteration
		-- If absent, circular references are not allowed.
		-- iter (maximum number of iterations)
		-- delta (step test. If smaller, then finished.)
	;C
		-- completion test at nearest preceding C record
	;P
		-- sheet is protected
	;L
		-- use A1 mode references
		-- Even if ;L is given R1C1 references are used in SYLK file expressions.
	;M
		-- If present, use manual recalculation.
		-- If absent, use automatic recalculation.
	;E
		-- Macro sheet.
		-- This should appear before the first appearance of a ;G or ;F field in a NN record.
		-- This should appear before the first C record which uses a macro-only function.

NU record
Use:
	file name substitution
	If NE record(s) are present, must precede them.
Mandatory fields:
	;L filename
		-- old filename
	;F filename
		-- new filename

NE record
Use:
	external link
Mandatory fields:
	;E expression
		-- Target area on spreadsheet
	;F filename
		-- Source file
	;S expression
		-- Source area on external sheet

NN record
Use:
	Defines names
	More efficient if NN appears before name use.
Mandatory fields:
	;N name
		-- name
	;E expression
		-- expression describing value of name
Possible fields:
	;G ch1 ch2
		-- runable name (macro) with command key alias
	;K ch1 ch2
		-- ordinary name with unused comman aliases
	;F
		-- usable as a function
Compatible fields:
	If ;G is present, ;K must be absent.

W record
Use:
	Window definitions

NL record
Use:
	Chart external link

E record
Use:
	End of file.
	Must be last record.

External links

Detailed examples can also be found at here.

Syntax for SYLK can be found at

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