The XLSM file format is a Microsoft Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook which allows users to run macros, which are programmed tasks that automate repetitive actions within the file. This format became prominent with the introduction of Microsoft Office 2007 when the software transitioned to an XML-based file format structure, often signified by an 'x' at the end of the file extension. Unlike XLSX files, XLSM files support macros written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), enriching the functionality and automation capabilities of the spreadsheets.
How XLSM Files Function
XLSM files contain both the data and the embedded macros in an XML structure that is compressed into a ZIP archive. This ensures both portability and a reduction in file size. When an XLSM file is opened in Microsoft Excel or compatible spreadsheet software, it triggers a security warning because macros can contain malicious code. The user can choose to enable or disable macros execution as a safety measure.
While XLSM files are optimized for Microsoft Excel, other spreadsheet applications such as Google Sheets, LibreOffice Calc, and Apache OpenOffice Calc also support this format, either natively or through import options. These applications may handle macro execution differently or may have different levels of support for the VBA language.
Alternatives to XLSM
For those seeking alternatives to XLSM, there are several options. The XLSX format is virtually identical but does not support macros, making it suitable for sharing data without the risk of macro viruses. CSV files are another alternative, offering compatibility with a wide range of programs but without support for formulas or macros. For collaborative purposes, web-based platforms like Google Sheets can be used to create, share, and simultaneously edit spreadsheets; however, they have their own scripting language rather than VBA.
The XLSM file format stands out for its advanced macro features, which enhance spreadsheet capabilities. Understanding its functions, compatibility, and available alternatives gives users the power to choose the best format for their specific needs, balancing functionality with security concerns.