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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

By Bruce Byfield on October 11, 2007 (9:00:00 AM)

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In earlier articles, I compared OpenOffice.org 2.3's and MS Office 2007's word processors and slide show programs. It seems appropriate to round off the comparison with a look at spreadsheets, the third of the core programs in any office application.

I spent a couple of days testing OOo Calc and Microsoft Excel features for formatting, list-making, formulas, and formula tools. Since the range of user expertise in spreadsheets tends to be much wider than in slide shows or even word processors, I considered the programs largely from the perspective of an average user who might require a spreadsheet for home or business use.

Cell, sheet, and page formatting

Calc's and Excel's options for formatting cells are so similar that their tabs are in the same order. The main difference in options is in number formatting, where Excel offers a Special category for phone numbers, social insurance numbers, and zip codes, and Calc offers Boolean values, as well as settings for decimal places, leading zeroes, coloring negative numbers red, and the thousands separator -- values that Excel tucks away under the Excel button in the ribbon. Calc also has an option not only for text wrap within cells, but also for hyphenation, which may be useful to those who use spreadsheets primarily for making lists. Otherwise, the cell formatting options are virtually identical for format, font, border, background, and protection, differing mainly in names.

Both programs include themes for formatting whole sheets, and, in both, you can also click the upper left corner of the sheet to select all its cells before you apply formatting changes. Page formats for printing are similar, too, including similar options for fitting spreadsheets, which are primarily intended as online documents, onto paper.

However, although the options are similar, Calc's treatment of cells and pages as styles is not only more convenient, but also similar to the functionality of other programs in OpenOffice.org. In particular, the Styles and Formatting floating window is especially efficient for designing. By contrast, Excel's basic formatting options are more chaotic to manage.

Both Excel and Calc also provide for inserting charts, diagrams, graphics, and text art into spreadsheets. The development of these extras seem so closely connected -- first one program getting a feature, then another one -- that there is little to choose between them. Right now, they seem approximately equal.

Verdict: Calc, because of its emphasis on styles.

List-making and sorting

List-making is one of the most basic uses of a spreadsheet. Both Calc and Excel have similar basic functionality, with custom fills for automatically entering patterned information, and pivot tables (or "datapilots," to use Calc's term) to rearrange information in order to gain new insight into it. The two programs also allow you to group rows and columns so that they can be shown or hidden with a single mouse click, although, if you didn't expect such functionality, you could easily miss it in Excel's new ribbon layout that combines menus and toolbars into one.

In both, too, you can sort data and filter it, either by custom filters or an autofilter, which creates a drop-down list of possible filters at the top of a column. However, Excel has an advantage because of its advanced filters, which allows cells to be arranged by things like format, or color, or whether a cell's content matches the average in the column, or is above or below the average.

Verdict: Excel.

Functions and formulas

Functions are the equations and expressions that, for advanced users, are the main point of a spreadsheet. A comparison of Calc's and Excel's functions (in French) of earlier versions of the programs shows that better than 80% of all functions are identical in the two programs, including all the most-used ones for basic arithmetic and simple statistics such as averages, medians, and means. In the remaining 20%, Calc has features that Excel lacks at least twice as often as Excel has features that Calc is missing. This situation seems unchanged in the latest versions.

The main difference lies in how functions are inserted. To enter functions, both programs have a function bar at the top of the editing window that opens on a list of functions. Excel's list includes a handy search field, in which you can enter natural language queries if you choose -- although with mixed success. Only after you have searched for a function does Excel open the Functions Argument dialog. Alternatively, you can choose a function from the separate icons for each category of functions on the Formulas tab of the Excel ribbon, although the inability to move between them means a delay if you click the wrong icon.

In comparison, Calc opens directly to its function wizard. The function wizard could use a search field like Excel's, but has an advantage over Excel's Function Argument dialog in that it always lists required fields, lists errors before you insert a function into a cell, and offers a tree view of the formula structure that is invaluable for users composing complex formulas. For those who require less help, Calc offers the more stripped-down Function List.

Verdict: For most users, Calc. Excel might be preferred by advanced users who need a particular function that Calc lacks.

Function tools

While Excel's ribbon works well enough for most purposes, it obscures many of the tools for working with functions once they are inserted on a sheet. You can find the analog of Calc's Detective function on Excel's Formulas tab in the form of the Trace Precedents and Trace Dependents option, but you will probably need to resort to the online help before you locate Goal Seek, Subtotals, or Validation. In fact, if you are not an experienced spreadsheet user, you might not even guess that they are there. Calc's arrangement of these options between the Tools and Data menus is not perfect either and seems equally arbitrary, but has the advantage of being familiar to advanced users who want the options, and discoverable by new users.

Verdict: Tie. The functionality is much the same, but neither arranges the tools in very logical order.

Choosing a winner

I have heard -- but lack the knowledge to verify personally -- that Calc tends to be slower than Excel when performing advanced calculations. However, if true, this complaint does not apply to the needs of the average home or business user, most of whom rarely dabble in advanced physics or mathematics on a daily basis.

Users of either program may consider a minor feature not considered here as absolutely essential. A particular keystroke combination or formatting option may seem trivial to others, but if it's part of your workflow, you are unlikely to give it up easily.

However, for most functions that the average user is likely to want, there is no major functional reason for preferring either Calc or Excel over the other. While OOo Writer outperforms Microsoft Word, and Microsoft PowerPoint offers more features than OOo Impress, with the spreadsheets, there is no clear winner. Even when one has an advantage over the other, it never seems to be a knockout victory. The one recurring theme seems to be that functions are more accessible and logically arranged in Calc, and that advantage may be due to the switch in Microsoft Office 2007 from menus and toolbars to ribbons.

Although individual preferences are always a factor, chances are that, in opting for Calc and free software, you are not putting yourself at any functional disadvantage. In fact, depending on your exact needs, in some ways, you may find yourself ahead.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com.

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on Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.6.15.13] on October 07, 2007 06:07 PM
Having used MS Excel for years as an accountant, and having only just downloaded Calc, I was very interested to see this review. Now, I wonder why the firms I have worked for have wasted thousands of pounds/dollars on buying MS Office licences when there is no need. Am I missing something here?

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.248.236.96] on October 10, 2007 05:43 PM
It's one thing to compare the two when starting from a clean slate. For people migrating from Excel to Calc, it's a very different story. There are dozens of little details where the two differ fundamentally. Unless you do the migration very carefully, verifying results each step of the way, and are prepared for some serious spreadsheet debugging to fix the glitches, you are likely to end up in a ditch. When the spreadsheets are business-critical, spending a few thousand dollars on Excel, rather than risk a lot of money--maybe more than the MS licenses--on a careful migration, starts to look like a no-brainer. Yes it's short-term thinking since after that you never spend another dime on MS licenses, but that's the way it is.

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Re(1): Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.77.120.218] on October 16, 2007 11:51 AM
Many Excel "documents" contain plenty of advanced functionality - integration with Word documents, Visual Basic for Applications code in macros and so on. Converting it to OO.o is not an easy task (even if the documents are perfectly converted, OO.o don't uses Visual Basic for Applications).

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.100.71.226] on October 11, 2007 07:17 AM
- Often third party software not linking to Calc, only to Excel.
- Calc being relatively unknown.
- Calc has improved a lot last years (as the whole suite speeds up fast). Thus few years agoo, IMO comparison would be less positive for Calc

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.19.67.58] on December 06, 2007 02:57 PM
Im sorry, but this article is a bit over biased towards OpenOffice - What do you mean by "the winner is not clear" Make a quick search for differences in behavior or take the OpenOffice.org migration guide. Yes, Calc is slower, yet if your job is not time critical or you open under 20 spreadsheets a day it does not matter. If You get on daily basis spreadsheets full of macros. most probably even the simplest You'll have to use Excel. The true question is, was and will be: Do i really need those 5 new, and ugly features offered in Excel 2007 or can i live with my old school Excel '97/2000.
Now a simple question: HEY, where is my beloved SOLVER in OpenOffice, doing more than SIMPLEX?
I can assure you if You where a economics student you would fall in love with SOLVER for quick data check-up.
How do i use inOOo that Text to column funktion? etc. Personally either have that money or be ready to take trade offs.
Oh, yeah i forgot - Open Office suits me well, i had to write a comparison between OOo 2.3 and MsO 2007. Your series of articles had been a great help. I hope you will write a review on Microsoft Office 2009 (or how they will call it)

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 206.248.158.187] on October 08, 2007 03:28 AM
No look at the graphing capabilities? I'm a long-time user of both suites and have converted a number of people to OOo. That being said, I've always found OOo's graphing capabilities to be very rudimentary and unusable when compared to excel. I haven't done the comparison in over a year so I was hoping to see some mention of it in this article. Is OOo Calc still lacking in this respect?

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.100.71.226] on October 11, 2007 07:19 AM
I made some nice bar's in Calc, with gradients, borders, sitting on the rows they represented.
But I needed some smart tricks to do that.

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.45.200.154] on October 11, 2007 11:47 AM
Graphing has been (at least until v2.3) behind even Office 97. No comparison of pivot tables etc.

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.236.3.71] on October 12, 2007 01:51 PM
In both Excel and Calc I allways found graphics possibilities to be poor. Someone remembered QuattroPro incredible graphic possibilities, especially when the graph was also manipulated in Presentation the Drawing/Presentation part of Corel's suite? So I kept QuattroPro's behavior and exported it in OOo. How? I do my main graphic in Calc (by the way, Calc 2.3 has a better graphic tool now) and when my graphic suits me, I copy it in Draw (OOo's drawing tool). I can then dissociate it's elements to do whatever I want. Export the final result in svg (for pdf) or wmf (if you're stuck with windows) to keep vectorial capabilities, or keep native draw's format for inclusion in any OOo's component (writer, calc, impress...).
Don't forget that every component of OOo's suite share a lot of functionnalities, use them! The file format (OpenDocument) is also a worth to mention!
Finally, you forgot to mention that PivotTable is protected by a patent, you can't use the name in another spreadsheet, explaining the choice of DataPilot in OOo.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 202.139.21.118] on October 08, 2007 08:25 AM
I'm a spreadsheet junkie and my spreadsheets definitely open slower in Calc

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What about the printing?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.240.137.171] on October 10, 2007 04:00 AM
No comparison of printing capabilities.
For what I know, Calc is better becaus it permits ton define a printing zone accross multiple sheets, what Excel can not.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.3.203.141] on October 11, 2007 09:31 AM
Hi, why does Calc not have Solver in his code? I can't use Calc because there isn't Solver in it. And i'm an Ubuntu user and so ungry this failure in Calc.

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.5.210.71] on October 11, 2007 06:07 PM
Novel employees have written a solver & it is in goopenoffice.

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Scripting ?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 161.231.132.16] on October 11, 2007 01:33 PM
The one area where excel is heavily used in corporate environments is scripting. How does Calc perform there ? Excel uses horrible vba, but people gets tons of things done with it anyway. I wonder how does Calc compare ... thanks!

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Re: Scripting ?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 200.123.168.169] on October 11, 2007 04:35 PM
well... as far as I know, calc provides scripting (or macros) in vba, javascript and python... i haven't tried them yet, though

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Re(1): Scripting ?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 161.231.132.16] on October 11, 2007 05:56 PM
python would be great ! I'll check it out ... it is so, so much better than vba !

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Re(1): Scripting ?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: unknown] on October 12, 2007 04:09 PM

And better never try.

OOo scripting is experience full of frustration..

After OOo scripts I have suddenly started liking VBA...

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The ribbon

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 141.123.105.3] on October 11, 2007 02:31 PM
"Calc's arrangement of these options between the Tools and Data menus is not perfect either and seems equally arbitrary, but has the advantage of being familiar to advanced users who want the options, and discoverable by new users"

You're missing the point of the ribbon: to make ALL of the functions available and discoverable by new users. Burying functions in menus is so last century. Having everything you need right in front of you makes it easy to find stuff, and learn new features that have always been there, just hard to find.

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Re: The ribbon

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.249.17.94] on October 12, 2007 12:06 PM
Riiiight. OK, quick - open a virgin install of Excel and write a macro. Quick now! It took Google for me to discover the option (buried in preferences, which is buried in a *hidden menu*) that makes the Macro ribbon even *visible*. I'm afraid when it comes to hiding critical functionality, *nobody* beats Office 2007!

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel - Autocomplete

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.148.167.135] on October 11, 2007 03:30 PM
I use Calc for inputing several multiple similar values, and as such I am grateful for Calcs far superior autocomplete features.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.206.3.254] on October 11, 2007 06:00 PM
Calc is definitely slow on large (not necessarily complicated) spreadsheets. I have a sheet with a 7 to 8 hundred rows of data that doesn't do much other than subtract and divide to calculate change and percent change. It can take a noticeable amount of time to recalculate on my machine (athlon xp 2500, 768Mb ram). The same spreadsheet is noticeably faster under Gnumeric. I don't have a copy of excel, but can confirm that calc is slower than other spreadsheet programs.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on October 11, 2007 07:49 PM
I would love to also see Gnumeric vs Ms Excel

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 96.224.252.165] on October 11, 2007 10:52 PM
I agree and also abiword vs msword. I use OO rather rarely on linux. Usually for presenter amusingly enough (given Bryce's conclusion that it is inferior to Powerpoint).

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.57.29.101] on October 12, 2007 12:31 AM
Charting in OOo/Calc is just ridicules to put it in gentle words. I hoped the situation will improve over the years (at least four years of waiting for me) but to no avail. Even Gnumeric (a light weight commpared to OOo and its resources) outperforms OOo/Calc. I can cope with work arounds but many of my fellows not, thus they stick to EXCEL. Start a comparison which compares a real scenario and not that based on the assumption of a single user. You say home or business use. Well I don't know what to say about that.
(No offence intended here!).

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.237.174.94] on October 12, 2007 03:39 PM
Seeing as a completely redesigned charting module was one of the main feature additions in 2.3, I wonder if it might be time for you to give it another shot.

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Two more items...

Posted by: NoCalDrummer on October 12, 2007 04:48 AM
Were it not for the fact that some of the keystrokes aren't the same (e.g Ctrl D does NOT "Copy Down") between Calc and Excel (at least older versions, so I'd HOPE they kept that in MSO2007), my boss probably wouldn't know the difference between Calc and Excel. But he touch-types (even faster than I do) and became frustrated when that "function" didn't work.

However, Calc can have MUCH larger formulae within a cell than Excel. I created a spreadsheet that used data from 12 months of timesheets (one for each month) to create a year-long total. Each page was identical in terms of layout, so once the formula was created for one person's month, I could replicate the formula and merely change a row number for each employee, then add that to the one for the previous, etc. The formula grew to be quite a lot of text, but OpenOffice's Calc handled it with no problem. Excel choked on it, so I had to create a separate page just for interim calculations, and break up the formula into three parts, which then got summed on the "totals" page. It was a pain to have to do, and I'm always afraid someone is going to unwittingly diddle the broken-up pieces which constitute the formulae.

So that's one in favor of Excel, one in favor of Calc. Considering it runs on Mac & Linux as well as Windows, I'd say that's a BIG plus for Calc, and I'll keep using it whenever possible.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.158.5.251] on October 12, 2007 05:31 AM
The key question is does Calc serve the needs of most users? I'd say the answer is yes for 90% of users.

And that's also the case for all of the other elements of OpenOffice.org

You might have 10% of users who are "power users" and may "need" this or that bell or whistle in MS Office because they have become dependent on it.

So businesses and organizations can save hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars/pounds/euros/yen/etc. by rolling out OpenOffice.org to the vast majority of users and buying M$ licenses for that tiny minority of "power users" who feel they need certain features.

If organizations are planning to migrate from older versions of MS Office it's the right time to consider a rollout to OpenOffice.org.

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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.57.2.85] on October 12, 2007 07:58 AM
I can no longer stand to read all the time the "businesses and organizations can save hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars/pounds/euros/yen/etc.". This is just funny. Do you know what happens when Novel, IBM, Sun, Redflag and Conical withdraw even a small number of developers who work on OOo because won't no longer afford to pay other for others? It will take ages to fix bugs, it will take ages to integrate a new feature and so forth. I have never heard that any of the people/companies/organizations who now say "we save so much money with OOo in comparison to another commercial product" ever donated a single penny. Is this do much asked for. Making a donation and giving something back instead of taking all the time?

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Re(1): Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.249.17.94] on October 12, 2007 12:11 PM
I'm sorry - I missed the long list of contributions that *you* have made to OOo. Could you elaborate, please? Your selflessness and dedication to unpaid work (as opposed to the army of developers paid by Novel (sic), IBM, Sun, Redflag (sic) and Conical (sic) to give them a *competitive market advantage*) will be an inspiration to us all.

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max number of rows & vba scripting support

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.241.94.180] on October 12, 2007 07:30 AM
What about the limit in number of rows in Calc? Is it still around 65000? I had a large spreadsheet last night and I thought I managed to open it completely in MS Excel while Calc gave me just around 65000 rows.

Then what keeps me from introducing Calc at my office is that in the financial services, excel is so widely used and I have come across spreadsheets with vba macros which I can't get working under Calc. It's no blame though because I know how MS feels about open source but that is the only thing that keeps me from doing it. If I only could send the excel spreadsheet to a Calc developer....(but he would have to sign a nda with me because I would be jeopardizing my employer's intellectual property)

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Re: max number of rows & vba scripting support

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.57.2.85] on October 12, 2007 08:08 AM
Some companies offer OOo/Calc with VBA support (to name Novell here).
http://www.linux.com/articles/58348

Moreover there should be no difference between to number of row in OOo/Calc and EXCEL since OOo 2.0.
search in the following link for "row limit":
http://marketing.openoffice.org/2.0/featureguide.html

BTW, Gnumeric (www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/ ) has no such limit .

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Re(1): max number of rows & vba scripting support

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.249.17.94] on October 12, 2007 12:14 PM
We've moved some complex script-based tools from Office 2003 to OOo 2.0. It wasn't automatic, but was at least straightforward and only took a couple of weeks to achieve identical functionality. The downside is that we have to maintain two different code bases in configuration management, but the upside - having the same tools on Linux and Solaris as are available on Windows - makes it worth the extra cost.

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Re(2): max number of rows & vba scripting support

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 161.231.132.16] on October 12, 2007 12:31 PM
That's cool, what scripting language did you use ? (I started the previous thred, asking about scripting)

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Re(1): max number of rows & vba scripting support

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.173.81.125] on October 14, 2007 07:58 AM
the limit of max number of rows is 2^16 in Excel, Gnumeric and Calc.
Calc with choke on large data sets that Excel handles easily. I have submitted bug reports to the OO team a few years ago.
Graphing in OO-calc is a pain in the ass, but it does have some nice features.

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Another Functions and formulas item

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.76.168.112] on October 12, 2007 11:14 AM
I routinely create inordinately complex spreadsheets and formulas in them. (I am a programmer.) In excel, I often had to create 'boildown' columns that would have a 5-level equation each, and then another column acting on those boildown columns. This is because Excel limits the scope-level (the number of parenthesis deep that you can go) in equations. Earlier versions of Excel limited to 7 or 8 levels. 2000-2003 limited it to 15 levels. I have not yet found the limit if there is one in Calc. This is invaluable when you need to express complex equations and logic in the formulas of cells.

Also, Calc lets you save your work into a spreadsheet file format! Isn't that great! Excel only creates corrupt binary blobs (ew!).

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Pivot tables cross-links broken in Calc

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.251.167.98] on October 12, 2007 01:59 PM
References to data in pivot tables are lost when
saving/loading files in Calc. Gnumeric seems to
work fine when loading Excel files, but all attempts
to use ODF (either through Calc or by exported
using Sun's ODF plugin for Excel) breaks the
references. This stopped my attempts to convert
my office to OOo cold.
Is it a weakness in ODF, or just a bug in OOo (and
Sun's plugin)?
Cheers,
Sam

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.92.1.26] on October 12, 2007 04:11 PM
Calc's drag and drop is no where near as good as Excel's. Makes manipulating SS difficult. In Excel and Calc if you drag field(s) they both overwrite. If you hold shift key while dragging in Excel it moves the data without overwriting (try doing equivalent in Calc take multiple steps), Calc does same as if no shift modify. If you hold down control key while dragging both Excel and Calc copy fields overwriting existing. If you hold down control and shift keys while dragging in Excel it does a copy/insert (again very useful and hard to do without), in Calc it overwrites a link to referenced fields (which in not very useful).

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.92.139.149] on October 13, 2007 05:19 AM
Bruce Byfield, dude, you missed the biggest weakness of Calc: The thing can't plot data worth sh**.

I am a pretty graphical guy, and I use data plots all the time. And I'm not talking about the whimpy business-type, powerpoint only bar charts (or their remarkably complicated cousins, the 3D bar-types), I'm talking about full data scatter charts, where numbers actually plot properly on X-Y coordinates, and where multiple and multiple ranges are plotted on the same chart. And the ranges come from all over the place, so there is never a neat single X-Y table that defines what goes on my plot, it's always a big table here, a small table there, and you need spaghetti plots to link all the data tables to the chart.

XL has this very neat feature where you cllick on the plot, then on a range on the plot, and then the cells that form that range are high-lighted on the spread-sheet itself. Oh, what's the big deal, you say, Calc does this. Yes, the HIGHLIGHTING ONLY. XL lets you drag and drop the highlighted ranges to change what you plot up with a few mouse-clicks. With Calc, you have to manually figure out which cells you must include in which ranges, and type them in.

Type them in?

Eeehhh.

But if you think this is nit-picking, consider this inexcusable blunder of Calc: If your tables are not the same length, you cant plot on the same chart. Sorry, this is where I have to checkout...

Calc is the main reason why I am using emulators on my linux PC - it is the last bastion of MS applications on my linux PC.

The OO team had a pretty long time to fix this (I've been using OO since 2002). Everytime a release comes out, I expect a fix. And everytime, i get disappointed.

Come on, OO team - make something nice out of Calc....



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Re: Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.173.81.125] on October 14, 2007 08:12 AM
Yes, calc is weak in graphing. But my version of Excel only does 0 - 255 axis on a circular chart. How stupid is that? A 360 degree chart that only resolves to 255! OO and Gnumeric does better here. The slowness of Calc is the killer, try using 30,000 rows and a couple of columns with five digit numbers and see OO choke. I can easily graph this with Excel.

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Slow Open / Save - problem might be ODF not the application suite

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.103.74.178] on October 15, 2007 12:52 PM
I'm an heavy user of Excel, probably the only thing that ties me to Windows.
The first big no no I see on Calc is its slowliness when opening or saving large complex files.
Some take 2 or 3 seconds to open in Excel, whether in Calc (tried it in OOo 1.1 a few years ago) it took soooo long that I even forget what I was going to do.
More recently tried also Gnumeric and it was faster than OOo Calc, anyway much slower than Excel and Gnumeric is not yet very stable - lots of bugs.

I believe this is not a problem with the applications themselves but with the way they insist on using and parsing those dumb ODF formats which are not suited for the everyday business life. Can you imagine compiling an application every time you use it?
With ODF that's what's happening. Portability is not such an issue - and the proof is that even Calc and Gnumeric open Excel XLS files.

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Re: Slow Open / Save - problem might be ODF not the application suite

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.0.204.2] on December 04, 2007 04:07 PM
I am a Microsoft-oriented user checking out OO. My comment is that if you checked Excel vs. OO 1.1......what kind of a comment is that to make in 2007? OO 2.3 has been out for months as far as I can tell.

There used to be some issues with Macros in OO Calc that I am looking into because I have heard that this problem was dealt with in OO 2.2 or 2.3.

Yours truly,

An open-minded Microsoft user.

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Limitations of OOo Calc 2.3 vs MS Excel 2007

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.113.254.77] on October 17, 2007 10:13 AM
Although it was interesting to read this comparison so far, I did not found anything being said on practical imitations of both programs. Excel used to be especially notorious for it's memory-limitations in previous versions and it's row-limit. This is clearly documented on the m$ website so I will post that here, if Calc can compete with the current limits, I may start using it. Especially number of rows, memory limit and calculation issues are important to me.

Increased Limits in Excel 2007:
* Grid: Maximum number of rows per worksheet, increased from 65,536 to over 1 million, and the number of columns from 256 (IV) to 16,384 (XFD).

* Memory: Usable memory for formulas and pivot caches is increased to 2 gigabytes (GB) from 1 GB in Microsoft Office Excel 2003, 128 megabytes (MB) in Microsoft Excel 2002, and 64 MB in Microsoft Excel 2000.

* Smart recalculation limits: The dependency limits that enable smart recalculation rather than full calculation are now limited only by available memory rather than 8,000 cells dependent on a single area and 64,000 areas having dependencies.

* Array formulas: Full column references are now allowed, and the limit on array formulas referring to another worksheet is increased from 65,000 to available memory.

* PivotTables: Maximum rows displayed in a PivotTable report is 1 million. Maximum columns displayed in a PivotTable report is 16,000. Maximum number of unique items within a single Pivot field is 1 million. Maximum number of fields visible in the Fields list is 16,000.

* Sorting: Levels increased from 3 to 64.

* AutoFilter Drop-down list length changed from 1,000 items to 10,000 items.

* Maximum formula length: Increased from 1,000 to 8,000.

* Formula nesting levels: Increased from 7 to 64.

* Arguments in a function: Increased from 30 to 255.

* Conditional formats per cell: Increased from 3 to available memory.

* Unique cell styles in a workbook: Increased from 4,000 to 64,000.

* Unique colors per workbook: Increased from 56 to 4.3 billion.

* Characters in a cell that can be displayed and printed: Increased to 32,000.

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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel (Plotting data from experiment)

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.224.26.237] on December 03, 2007 08:26 AM
Try plotting data from an experiment such as period T^2 in seconds versus the radius in meters. Inserting a chart that is a plot of your data is difficult. I havn't been able to do it yet. I end up going to school and using MS excel to do my data plots because I hate plotting data on graph paper by hand.

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