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John McNamara > Excel-Writer-XLSX > Excel::Writer::XLSX::Shape



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Shape - A class for creating Excel Drawing shapes


To create a simple Excel file containing shapes using Excel::Writer::XLSX:


    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Excel::Writer::XLSX;

    my $workbook  = Excel::Writer::XLSX->new( 'shape.xlsx' );
    my $worksheet = $workbook->add_worksheet();

    # Add a default rectangle shape.
    my $rect = $workbook->add_shape();

    # Add an ellipse with centered text.
    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape(
        type => 'ellipse',
        text => "Hello\nWorld"

    # Add a plus shape.
    my $plus = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'plus');

    # Insert the shapes in the worksheet.
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'B3', $rect );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'C3', $ellipse );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'D3', $plus );


The Excel::Writer::XLSX::Shape module is used to create Shape objects for Excel::Writer::XLSX.

A Shape object is created via the Workbook add_shape() method:

    my $shape_rect = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'rect' );

Once the object is created it can be inserted into a worksheet using the insert_shape() method:

    $worksheet->insert_shape('A1', $shape_rect);

A Shape can be inserted multiple times if required.

    $worksheet->insert_shape('A1', $shape_rect);
    $worksheet->insert_shape('B2', $shape_rect, 20, 30);


add_shape( %properties )

The add_shape() Workbook method specifies the properties of the Shape in hash property => value format:

    my $shape = $workbook->add_shape( %properties );

The available properties are shown below.

insert_shape( $row, $col, $shape, $x, $y, $scale_x, $scale_y )

The insert_shape() Worksheet method sets the location and scale of the shape object within the worksheet.

    # Insert the shape into the worksheet.
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'E2', $shape );

Using the cell location and the $x and $y cell offsets it is possible to position a shape anywhere on the canvas of a worksheet.

A more detailed explanation of the insert_shape() method is given in the main Excel::Writer::XLSX documentation.


Any shape property can be queried or modified by the corresponding get/set method:

    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape( %properties );
    $ellipse->set_type( 'plus' );    # No longer an ellipse!
    my $type = $ellipse->get_type();  # Find out what it really is.

Multiple shape properties may also be modified in one go by using the set_properties() method:

    $shape->set_properties( type => 'ellipse', text => 'Hello' );

The properties of a shape object that can be defined via add_shape() are shown below.


Defines the name of the shape. This is an optional property and the shape will be given a default name if not supplied. The name is generally only used by Excel Macros to refer to the object.


Defines the type of the object such as rect, ellipse or triangle:

    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'ellipse' );

The default type is rect.

The full list of available shapes is shown below.

See also the program in the examples directory of the distro. It creates an example workbook with all supported shapes labelled with their shape names.


This property is used to make the shape act like a text box.

    my $rect = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'rect', text => "Hello\nWorld" );

The text is super-imposed over the shape. The text can be wrapped using the newline character \n.


Identification number for internal identification. This number will be auto-assigned, if not assigned, or if it is a duplicate.


Workbook format for decorating the shape text (font family, size, and decoration).

start, start_index

Shape indices of the starting point for a connector and the index of the connection. Index numbers are zero-based, start from the top dead centre and are counted clockwise.

Indices are typically created for vertices and centre points of shapes. They are the blue connection points that appear when connection shapes are selected manually in Excel.

end, end_index

Same as above but for end points and end connections.

start_side, end_side

This is either the letter b or r for the bottom or right side of the shape to be connected to and from.

If the start, start_index, and start_side parameters are defined for a connection shape, the shape will be auto located and linked to the starting and ending shapes respectively. This can be very useful for flow and organisation charts.

flip_h, flip_v

Set this value to 1, to flip the shape horizontally and/or vertically.


Shape rotation, in degrees, from 0 to 360.

line, fill

Shape colour for the outline and fill. Colours may be specified as a colour index, or in RGB format, i.e. AA00FF.

See COLOURS IN EXCEL in the main documentation for more information.


Line type for shape outline. The default is solid. The list of possible values is:

    dash, sysDot, dashDot, lgDash, lgDashDot, lgDashDotDot, solid

valign, align

Text alignment within the shape.

Vertical alignment can be:

    Setting     Meaning
    =======     =======
    t           Top
    ctr         Centre
    b           Bottom

Horizontal alignment can be:

    Setting     Meaning
    =======     =======
    l           Left
    r           Right
    ctr         Centre
    just        Justified

The default is to centre both horizontally and vertically.

scale_x, scale_y

Scale factor in x and y dimension, for scaling the shape width and height. The default value is 1.

Scaling may be set on the shape object or via insert_shape().


Adjustment of shape vertices. Most shapes do not use this. For some shapes, there is a single adjustment to modify the geometry. For instance, the plus shape has one adjustment to control the width of the spokes.

Connectors can have a number of adjustments to control the shape routing. Typically, a connector will have 3 to 5 handles for routing the shape. The adjustment is in percent of the distance from the starting shape to the ending shape, alternating between the x and y dimension. Adjustments may be negative, to route the shape away from the endpoint.


Shapes work in stencil mode by default. That is, once a shape is inserted, its connection is separated from its master. The master shape may be modified after an instance is inserted, and only subsequent insertions will show the modifications.

This is helpful for Org charts, where an employee shape may be created once, and then the text of the shape is modified for each employee.

The insert_shape() method returns a reference to the inserted shape (the child).

Stencil mode can be turned off, allowing for shape(s) to be modified after insertion. In this case the insert_shape() method returns a reference to the inserted shape (the master). This is not very useful for inserting multiple shapes, since the x/y coordinates also gets modified.


Use $worksheet->hide_gridlines(2) to prepare a blank canvas without gridlines.

Shapes do not need to fit on one page. Excel will split a large drawing into multiple pages if required. Use the page break preview to show page boundaries superimposed on the drawing.

Connected shapes will auto-locate in Excel if you move either the starting shape or the ending shape separately. However, if you select both shapes (lasso or control-click), the connector will move with it, and the shape adjustments will not re-calculate.



    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Excel::Writer::XLSX;

    my $workbook  = Excel::Writer::XLSX->new( 'shape.xlsx' );
    my $worksheet = $workbook->add_worksheet();

    # Add a default rectangle shape.
    my $rect = $workbook->add_shape();

    # Add an ellipse with centered text.
    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape(
        type => 'ellipse',
        text => "Hello\nWorld"

    # Add a plus shape.
    my $plus = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'plus');

    # Insert the shapes in the worksheet.
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'B3', $rect );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'C3', $ellipse );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'D3', $plus );

See also the shapes_*.pl program in the examples directory of the distro.



Dave Clarke


(c) MM-MMXVI, John McNamara.

All Rights Reserved. This module is free software. It may be used, redistributed and/or modified under the same terms as Perl itself.

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