Optimizing Record Lists for Export to Excel

This page provides guidance on optimizing your record list to best take advantage of the Export to Excel feature. The configuration recommendations here take into consideration the constraints of the Excel format so you can adjust your record list accordingly.

To learn how to configure the Export to Excel option for record lists, see Record Types.

What Can Be Exported?

Entity-backed, process-backed, and expression-backed record lists displayed as grids.

How Is Data Exported?


If your record list has images, we recommend adding captions before exporting to Excel. Only image captions will be exported. If a caption is not available, either the document parameter on a document image or the source parameter on a web image will be exported.

The following link types will export as text. All other link types will export as expected.

  • Dynamic Link
  • Start Process Link
  • Authorization Link

Excel only supports one link per cell. When one link is provided, the link will be exported accordingly. If multiple links are provided, Appian will export the link label followed by each link URL as text in parenthesis.

Rich Text

Excel only supports one text style per cell. Therefore, styled text will only be exported accordingly if there is one styled text per cell. Cells with multiple styled text will export as unstyled text. The same rules apply for styled links. Bulleted lists and nested lists are exported appropriately.

Appian recommends you add captions when using images. Below are some scenarios that could happen when trying to export images with links.

  • An image with a caption and a nested link will export the image's caption and the corresponding hyperlink.

  • An image with no caption and a supported nested link will export the nested link as text and as a hyperlink.

  • An image with no caption and an unsupported nested link (Dynamic Link, Start Process Link, or Authorization Link) will export the nested link label as text.

How Much Data Can I Export?

The Export to Excel button will be disabled for entity-backed and service-backed record lists if the filtered record list contains more than 100,000 rows or 50 columns.

For process-backed record lists, only the first 10,000 rows will be exported and the Export to Excel button will be enabled at all times.

We recommend designers to add user filters to record lists exceeding these limits, so that record viewers can filter down record lists to below the limit and still export to Excel.

Avoiding Query Timeouts when Exporting Data

Exporting data store entities from either record lists or smart services relies on sorting the entity by its primary key. This sorting ensures that data is exported consistently - that is, all rows are exported and no row is exported more than once.

Appian export operations use small batches to control the amount of memory consumed. The last row of a batch is tracked and used to determine where the next batch starts. By managing load this way, we avoid high memory consumption when exporting entities with a very large number of rows.

Designers should adhere to Database Performance Best Practices when creating their schema relationships. Because database views do not have a primary key, or the ability to have indexes, Appian recommends exporting data only from tables or materialized views in order to avoid query timeouts with large data sets.

Why is Export for Expression-Backed Records Disabled by Default?

Expression-backed record types require additional logic necessary to handle paging, sorting, searching, and filtering. Export is disabled by default to ensure designers test this logic prior to enabling it.

Designers can test their expression by opening the Record List URL and trying the functionality described above. However, in order to export an expression-backed record list to Excel, designers should follow a few additional steps:

  1. When a record list is displayed on a web or mobile device, it is typical to have a small page size such as 25 or 50 rows. Since record lists are exported using batches to minimize memory usage, we require designers to support a page size of 1,000 rows which is the page size used when exporting expression-backed records. Make sure to test your Web API or Integration with this page size to determine whether the export operation will succeed.
  2. Temporarily enable the Show Export to Excel Button on your record type and save it.
  3. From the record list, try the Export to Excel operation a few times to test for additional errors. Any error raised by the source expression is logged to the Excel file. Use the error message for further troubleshooting.
  4. If #3 succeeds, you can enable the Show Export to Excel Button checkbox on your record type and save it.
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