PyXLL: Deploy Python to Excel Easily

Feb 06 2014 Published by under Canopy, Enthought Canopy, Finance, News, Python, PyXLL

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Today Enthought announced that it is now the worldwide distributor for PyXLL, and we’re excited to offer this key product for deploying Python models, algorithms and code to Excel. Technical teams can use the full power of Enthought Canopy, or another Python distro, and end-users can access the results in their familiar Excel environment. And it’s pretty straightforward to set up and use.

PyXLL is free for non-commercial and evaluation purposes, and in Canopy you can simply grab it from the Enthought repo via the Package Manager as shown in the screenshots below (note that at this time PyXLL is only available for Windows users). The rest of the configuration instructions are in the Quick Start portion of the documentation. PyXLL itself is a plug-in to Excel. When you start Excel, PyXLL loads into Excel and reads in Python modules that you have created for PyXLL. This makes PyXLL especially useful for organizations that want to manage their code centrally and deploy to multiple Excel users.

Enthought Canopy Package Manager   Install PyXLL from Enthought Canopy's Package Manager

To create a PyXLL Python Excel function, you use the @xl_func decorator to tell PyXLL the following function should be registered with Excel, what its argument types are, and optionally what its return type is. PyXLL also reads the function’s docstring and provides that in the Excel function description. As an example, I created a module and registered it with PyXLL via the PyXLL config file. In that module I put a simple function pyfib(): a naive Fibonacci implementation.

When I start Excel, I can access the Excel function wizard and find my pyfib() function and use it. The function documentation in Excel comes from my docstring. PyXLL parses the “n: integer input” portion as the variable documentation.

If I go back and make a change to the function, I can reload PyXLL without restarting Excel and update the cells. If I add another function to my module, it too will get loaded and be available to use in my worksheet.

So if you are developing Python models or functions for a large number of distributed Excel users, you can manage the code centrally. PyXLL will load new versions and new functions from the central repository whenever a user starts Excel. Deployment is very straightforward, and central management of all the code reduces the risk of Excel macros and functions proliferating uncontrolled.

I can also create menu functions using the decorator @xl_menu. PyXLL ships with several examples that you can start with. The one below adds a menu item to the Excel Add-in menu, and pops up a message box when selected.


As I said earlier, PyXLL is free to download for non-commercial and evaluation purposes. In Canopy it’s available in the Package Manager (as long as you upgrade to Canopy v1.3 first), and for other Python distros it’s available from our PyXLL store page. You can also find more details and documentation on the PyXLL product pages.

12 responses so far

  • avatar Marcos Carreira says:

    I’m not finding pyxll as an available package in the Package Manager (Canopy

    • avatar Courtenay Godshall says:

      Hi Marcos – at this time PyXLL is only available on Windows due to its core integration with Microsoft Excel. Are you possibly on a Mac?

  • avatar Brian says:

    This is great, but a bummer that it is not planned for Mac. I hate using Python on a windows machine because I use the bash shell a lot when working on the Mac.

  • avatar Vincent says:

    I started learning Python because I cannot use EXCEL macro on a Mac. It does not make sense that PyXLL does not support Mac. Why would anyone want to do it on a PC where it is jammed with powerful VSBasic is beyond me….

    • avatar Brett says:

      Vincent, there are a few reasons people use PyXLL on Windows over VBA:
      - productivity: Python is a clean, powerful language with a large analytic library ecosystem
      - performance: It’s straightforward to access C++, Cython code, and parallel processing from Python functions
      - management: instead of embedded VBA models, organizations can manage their Python code centrally and load it on start-up into each user’s Excel – no more uncontrolled version creep
      Sorry we don’t have it on Mac (for on this see below)

  • avatar Magne Hillestad says:

    I am using Windows 7 and Windows Office 2010 and Python 3.3 64 bit. I have installed the pyxll on c:\pyxll. From excel/options /add-ins I have tried to install the pyxll.xll.

    The message is pyxll.xll is not a valid add-in.

  • avatar Brett says:

    Re Mac (several):

    Sorry we don’t have PyXLL on the Mac. Enthought has taken this great, already-existing product for Windows, and given it much wider exposure by integrating it into Canopy and providing licensees with support.

    Why was PyXLL written for Windows only? First, that’s where the strongest demand is. Most Excel users, by far, are on Windows, and Python in Excel via PyXLL has distinct advantages over VBA, as we describe above (see Vincent’s comment). Second, while Python itself is cross-platform, Excel is not really. It uses a very different architecture on Mac than on Windows, so it is not simple to port PyXLL to Mac. It would be an extensive and expensive rewrite, and so far it is not obvious that there is enough demand to support such an effort financially.

    For Mac users who wish to take advantage of PyXLL, you can use it (as many of us at Enthought do), in a Windows Virtual Machine such as Fusion. Your single PyXLL and Canopy licenses are good on as many physical and virtual machines as you use.

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