Joseph Michael Pesch
VP Programming

Excel to PDF Conversion Using Office Automation

by 31. January 2012 08:17

I wrote a simple C# method to open and Excel file and save it as PDF using basic Microsoft Office automation via the Excel COM.  In my case this method was inside a Windows Service that was scheduled to refresh the external data links (to datawarehouse and SSAS cube).  The initial code was problematic in that after the initial execution the output PDF file would often be locked causing the subsequent executions to fail.  Restarting the service would release the file, so it was apparent that the method was not cleanly releasing it's resources at end of execution. After some research and testing I now have a cleanup sequence that seems to reliably releasing all the resources so the service can now run indefinitely without conflict.  Below is a subset of the C# Excel COM code that illustrates the basic steps.

As a side note, while researching this issue I found an interesting article on using OpenOffice to perform a similar operation.  In my case I'm not sure it would work (at least not without further research and extending the method), as I need to refresh external data connections (which was not a feature covered in the sample I found).  However, it did sound like an interesting option as it only requires a few DLL's and not the full application install that the Office COM automation seems to require.  I included a simple version of the OpenOffice code (along with a reference link to the original article I read) below as well.  I will try to research this option later and update my post with the findings. 

Important side note:  Running this code on a Windows 2008 Server will fail with generic file access error if you don't have the folders shown below (i.e. create empty folder to resolve the issue):

  • Windows 2008 Server x64: C:\Windows\SysWOW64\config\systemprofile\Desktop
  • Windows 2008 Server x86: C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\Desktop


Microsoft Excel Sample Code:

// Start application
Application excel = new ApplicationClass();
// Turn off message boxes
excel.DisplayAlerts = false;

string sourceFilePath = @"C:\SourceFile.xls"; 
string targetFilePath = @"C:\TargetFile.pdf";  

// Open the file
// Important, do not double up on objects in COM
// Notice the Workbooks variable used to open the workbook
// DO NOT DO THIS: Workbook wkb = excel.Workbooks.Open(sourceFilePath, false, true);
Workbooks wkbs = excel.Workbooks;
Workbook wkb = wkbs.Open(sourceFilePath, false, true);

// Refresh data connections and do some formatting
Worksheet sht = wkb.Worksheets["Summary"] as Worksheet;
sht.get_Range("A1").EntireColumn.ColumnWidth = 21;
sht.get_Range("B1", "E1").EntireColumn.AutoFit();

// Delete target file

// Export to PDF
, targetFilePath, Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel.XlFixedFormatQuality.xlQualityStandard
, true, false, Type.Missing, Type.Missing, false, Type.Missing);

// Clean up to release resources
// IMPORTANT: This cleanup sequence was required when running
// this inside a service that remains open and recycles on a schedule
// otherwise multiple EXCEL processes would be running and resources
// left open causing file access problems and memory leaks.
wkb.Close(false, Type.Missing, Type.Missing);

Here is a good article on cleaning up Excel COM objects:

OpenOffice Sample Code:

You need the following DLL's from OpenOffice and reference them in your project:


using System;
using uno.util; 
string sourceFilePath = "file:///C:/SourceFile.xls"; 
string targetFilePath = "file:///C:/TargetFile.pdf";  

// Start OpenOffce or get a reference to an existing session 
XComponentContext localContext = Bootstrap.bootstrap(); 
XMultiServiceFactory multiServiceFactory = (XMultiServiceFactory)localContext.getServiceManager(); 
XComponentLoader componentLoader = (XComponentLoader)multiServiceFactory.createInstance("");  

// Set the file open properties
PropertyValue[] openProperties = new PropertyValue[2]; 
// Hidden...
openProperties[1] = new PropertyValue(); 
openProperties[1].Name = "Hidden"; 
openProperties[1].Value = new uno.Any(true);  
// Read only...
openProperties[0] = new PropertyValue(); 
openProperties[0].Name = "ReadOnly"; 
openProperties[0].Value = new uno.Any(true); 
// Open the file 
XComponent sourceDocument = componentLoader.loadComponentFromURL(sourceFilePath, "_blank", 0, openProperties);  

// Conversion parameters - overwrite existing file, use PDF exporter 
PropertyValue[] conversionProperties = new PropertyValue[3]; 
conversionProperties[0] = new PropertyValue(); 
conversionProperties[0].Name = "Overwrite"; 
conversionProperties[0].Value = new uno.Any(true); 
conversionProperties[1] = new PropertyValue(); 
conversionProperties[1].Name = "FilterName"; 
conversionProperties[1].Value = new uno.Any("calc_pdf_Export");  

// Set PDF export parameters 
PropertyValue[] filterData = new PropertyValue[3];  
// JPEG compression quality 70 
filterData[0] = new PropertyValue(); 
filterData[0].Name = "Quality"; 
filterData[0].Value = new uno.Any(70); 
filterData[0].State = PropertyState.DIRECT_VALUE;  
// Max image resolution 300dpi 
filterData[1] = new PropertyValue(); 
filterData[1].Name = "ReduceImageResolution"; 
filterData[1].Value = new uno.Any(true); 
filterData[1].State = PropertyState.DIRECT_VALUE; 
filterData[2] = new PropertyValue(); 
filterData[2].Name = "MaxImageResolution"; 
filterData[2].Value = new uno.Any(300); 
filterData[2].State = PropertyState.DIRECT_VALUE;  
conversionProperties[2] = new PropertyValue(); 
conversionProperties[2].Name = "FilterData"; 
conversionProperties[2].Value = new uno.Any(filterData.GetType(), filterData);  
// Export the PDF 
XStorable xstorable = (XStorable)sourceDoc; 
xstorable.storeToURL(pdfFile, conversionProperties);  

// Close document 

OpenOffice API documentation can be found here:  Here is a link to the artical I used for basis of OpenOffice version of code:


C# | Excel

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