Viewing and Inspecting Excel Data

Liz Sanderson
Liz Sanderson
  • Updated

FME Version

  • FME 2020.1


Let’s begin working with Microsoft Excel data by first viewing the data through Visual Preview in FME Workbench. Visual Preview is used to preview data, both before, during, and after a translation, and is particularly useful for identifying where additional data formatting may be necessary. It is important to note that Visual Preview is not an editing environment, and changes cannot be made to the source data through this window. Optionally, you can also view data with FME Data Inspector. 


This video was recorded using FME 2016, please note that the interface and dataset are different but the concepts are still the same. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Add an Excel Reader
Open a blank workspace in FME Workbench. From the top menu, select Reader to add a new reader onto the canvas. 

In the Add Reader dialog, for the Format, type in Microsoft Excel. For Dataset, click on the ellipsis, then browse to the Precipitation.xlsx file that can be downloaded from the Files section of this article (on the top-right corner). Click OK to add the reader to the canvas. 

2. Open the Popup Menu
This Excel spreadsheet has four workbooks, by default FME will read them all in. Each of the worksheets will appear on the canvas, these are called feature types. Let’s inspect one of the worksheets (feature types). Click on the 2020 reader feature type to open the popup menu. From the popup menu, click on Inspect Source Data, which will open the dataset in Visual Preview. If FME Data Inspector opens, you may be using an older version of FME, but the functionality is the same. 

3. Review Data in Visual Preview
In the Visual Preview window, there are three different views, a table view, graphics view, and feature information view. Since this data doesn’t have an x and y coordinates, only the table view will be displayed. 
The Table View displays the data contained in the Excel spreadsheet, with attribute (column) names displayed in bold. Right-clicking on the attribute name allows you to sort using several criteria; alphabetical/numeric, and ascending/descending. Text values are presented left-aligned, and numeric values are right-aligned. 

For more information on Visual Preview, see the Getting Started with FME Desktop tutorial or the documentation. For more information on FME Data Inspector, see the tutorial or documentation

Data Attribution

The data used here originates from open data made available by the City of Vancouver , British Columbia. It contains information licensed under the Open Government License - Vancouver.

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