diff-xls-text - Diff the text of two Office spreadsheets (.ods, .xls, .xlsx) as two directories of CSV files


This document describes version 0.012 of diff-xls-text (from Perl distribution App-DiffXlsText), released on 2022-11-26.


Use like you would use the Unix command diff:

 % diff-xls-text [options] <FILE>...

Sample old.xlsx (*foo* marks bolded text):

 # sheet 1: en_id
 |  english  |  indonesian    |
 | boy       | anak laki-laki |
 | girl      | anak wanita    |
 | man       | Laki-laki      |
 | lad       | pemuda         |

 # sheet 2: id_en
 |  indonesian  |  english    |
 | pemuda       | young man   |
 | pemudi       | young woman |

Sample new.xlsx:

 # sheet 1: en_id
 | *English*  | *Indonesian*   |
 | boy        | anak laki-laki |
 | girl       | anak perempuan |
 | man        | laki-laki      |
 | woman      | perempuan      |

 # sheet 2: en_su
 |  English   |  Sundanese     |
 | man        | lalaki         |

Sample session:

 % diff-xls-text old.xlsx new.xlsx
 Saving sheet to /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv ...
 Saving sheet to /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-id_en.csv ...
 Saving sheet to /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv ...
 Saving sheet to /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_su.csv ...
 diff -ruN /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv
 --- /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv 2022-11-26 07:43:56.293111001 +0700
 +++ /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_id.csv 2022-11-26 07:43:56.661107387 +0700
 @@ -1,5 +1,5 @@
  boy,"anak laki-laki"
 -girl,"anak wanita"
 +girl,"anak perempuan"
 diff -ruN /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-en_su.csv /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_su.csv
 --- /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-en_su.csv 1970-01-01 07:00:00.000000000 +0700
 +++ /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-en_su.csv 2022-11-26 07:43:56.661107387 +0700
 @@ -0,0 +1,2 @@
 diff -ruN /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-id_en.csv /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-id_en.csv
 --- /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/old.xlsx/workbook-id_en.csv 2022-11-26 07:43:56.293111001 +0700
 +++ /tmp/IZxMSeSyr_/new.xlsx/workbook-id_en.csv 1970-01-01 07:00:00.000000000 +0700
 @@ -1,3 +0,0 @@
 -pemuda,"young man"
 -pemudi,"young woman"


This is a wrapper for the Unix command diff. It assumes that each input file is an Office spreadsheet (.ods, .xls, or .xlsx) and tries to convert the file to a directory of CSV files (where each CSV file is converted from a single worksheet) using xlsx2csv. It then passes the converted directories to diff -ruN command. Thus, formatting differences will not be diff'ed.


These are options that are interpreted by diff-xls-text and not passed to diff.

Please specify these options before file names.

  • --transpose-csv

    Transpose CSV first using csv-transpose from App::CSVUtils. This allows you to do column-based instead of row-based diff.



If set to true, do not cleanup temporary directories.


String. Can be used to set path to diff command. See also "DIFF_XLS_TEXT_DIFF_CMD" which takes precedence.


String. Can be used to set path to diff command. The defaultl is diffwc if available in PATH, or diff. Takes precedence over "DIFF_CMD".


Please visit the project's homepage at


Source repository is at


Unix command diff.

ssdiff from Spreadsheet::Read which also diffs two spreadsheets but presents the result differently.

xlsx2csv from Spreadsheet::Read


perlancar <>


To contribute, you can send patches by email/via RT, or send pull requests on GitHub.

Most of the time, you don't need to build the distribution yourself. You can simply modify the code, then test via:

 % prove -l

If you want to build the distribution (e.g. to try to install it locally on your system), you can install Dist::Zilla, Dist::Zilla::PluginBundle::Author::PERLANCAR, Pod::Weaver::PluginBundle::Author::PERLANCAR, and sometimes one or two other Dist::Zilla- and/or Pod::Weaver plugins. Any additional steps required beyond that are considered a bug and can be reported to me.


This software is copyright (c) 2022, 2021, 2020 by perlancar <>.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.


Please report any bugs or feature requests on the bugtracker website

When submitting a bug or request, please include a test-file or a patch to an existing test-file that illustrates the bug or desired feature.