Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between XML and XLS


File formats are always evolving, mostly to add new features but sometimes to fix shortcomings or to improve compatibility. XLS is one of the more popular, which is used in Microsoft’s spreadsheet application Excel. Changes occurring in Microsoft Office formats have led people to ask what XML is and how it pertains to XLS and Excel in general. The main difference between XML and XLS is what they actually are. While XLS is a file format, as already mentioned, XML is actually a markup language that is prominently used in web pages.

There are several more distinct differences between XML and XLS. First off, XLS is a proprietary format, which means that Microsoft holds the intellectual rights to it. The proprietary nature of XLS has made it difficult for other programmers to code their applications to read and write XLS files that are compatible with Excel. On the other hand, XML is an open format and the specifics of how things are to be done are documented. This removes the guesswork involved in figuring out how the file is structured and how each element is stored in the file. To complement this point, XML is also text based and can be read on any text editor. It might be a bit more difficult to read due to the tags, you can still find the actual content. With XLS, the file is stored in a binary format. Only Excel can reproduce the contents of the file with absolute accuracy as other applications may not be able to figure out the contents and how they are formatted.

Due to the several advantages that XML has over XLS that Microsoft was using at that time, a new format was introduced. This format carried the extension XLSX and is based on XML. It inherits many of XMLs strengths making it an excellent alternative. XLSX is just one of the new formats as other MS Office applications have also adopted new document formats based on XML. Only the 2007 version or later of MS Office have the ability to work with these files. Older versions need a compatibility patch to read them.


1.XML is a mark-up language while XLS is a file format for Microsoft Excel
2.XML is an open format while XLS is a proprietary format
3.XML is user-readable while XLS is not
4.XLS is being replaced with a newer format based on XML

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1 Comment

  1. That was great explanation. Thanks for posting it.

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