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'The file is not in a recognizable format' when launching Excel due to missing MS Office components

Technote (troubleshooting)


User launches Excel. User receives error message.

User clicks OK. User sees strange-looking spreadsheet appear, called 'ControllerXL.xll', which has text such as:

Microsoft Excel - ControllerXL.xll [Read-Only]
MZ[][][][]model L,[]!


Microsoft Excel

The file is not in a recognizable format
* If you know the file is from another program which is incompatible with Microsoft Office Excel, click Cancel, then open this file in its original application. If you want to open the file later in Microsoft Office Excel, save it in a format that is compatible, such as text format
* If you suspect the file is damaged, click Help for more information about solving the problem.
* If you still want to see what text is contained in the file, click OK. Then click Finish in the Text Import Wizard
OK Cancel Help


There are several different possible causes for the 'The file is not in a recognizable format' error.

  • TIP: For more examples, see separate IBM Technote #1647017.

This Technote specifically relates to the scenario where the cause is that the Controller Excel (.XLL) add-in requires certain Microsoft DLL files and runtime components to be installed, but they are missing.
  • These are typically installed when Microsoft Office/Excel is installed on the client PC.
  • However, if the administrator has performed a custom (extremely minimal) installation of Microsoft Excel, then these required runtime components will not be installed.

Therefore, when Microsoft Excel opens up the .XLL file, it (incorrectly) treats it is a simple .XLS spreadsheet. Instead, it *should* attempt to open the (Visual Studio) .XLL file as an Excel add-in.

Resolving the problem

Re-install Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Office), and ensure that the all optional components are selected/installed. In particular, you *must* have the 'VBA for Microsoft Office' option ticked.

  • Afterwards, please remember to upgrade Microsoft Excel to the latest service pack (for example, at the time of writing, Excel 2003's latest service pack is SP3).

Related information

1647017 - ** Troubleshooting ** Error 'The file is not

Historical Number


Document information

More support for: Cognos Controller

Software version: 8.3

Operating system(s): Windows

Reference #: 1347980

Modified date: 15 August 2013

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