We’re all familiar with Microsoft Excel for viewing and editing data. It’s an ideal mechanism for providing reports on which you want to perform analysis, particularly when you don’t have the option of layering a reporting solution over the data (e.g. SSRS or IBM Cognos).
When we need to implement Excel reporting in a web site we’ve developed (using PHP) we use an extension called PHPExcel. This extension gives us the flexibility to create the spreadsheet as the user wants it. Formatting, structure, conditional colours, formulae, everything can be controlled programmatically.
Where the real power lies though is when a user has downloaded a dataset, updated it and wants to push the changes back into the system. PHPExcel can read the Excel files, pulling out the data to process through PHP. You could of course do this using an SSIS package (if you have access to MS SQL Server) but using PHPExcel means that you can process it directly through PHP.