OpenOffice 3.0 out

OpenOffice.org overwhelmed by demand for version 3.0

I’m guessing thats a nice problem to have

Linux format has a less than overwhelming, and rather light review of the new version, eventually deciding it does just about justify the full increment

As a matter of interest – does/would anyone use that start centre mentioned in that article? I don’t/wouldn’t.

I’m looking forward to reviewing the download figures once the 3.0 effect has filtered through.

I think I’ll wait for the initial rush to ease off before I download it.

Anyone using 3.0 already? views?

cheers

Simon

[ps I love that VBA compatibility is mentioned as a big win – makes me think that the OOo folks ‘get it’]

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22 Responses to “OpenOffice 3.0 out”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    I was able to download it. Maybe helps to be in the US.

    Anyway, what impresses me is that array formulas in OOo Calc are now very nearly equal to those in Excel. AND the syntax for conditional counting and summing using SUMPRODUCT is MUCH CLEANER, e.g.,

    =SUMPRODUCT(MOD(ROW(A1:A10);2)=0)

    and

    =SUMPRODUCT(A1:A10;MOD(ROW(A1:A10);2)=0)

    evaluate as expected, so the OOo developers seem to have been able to figure out something VERY BASIC that the Excel developers haven’t (or, more likely, are prohibited from implementing): it’s OK to convert boolean values to numeric 1s or 0s automatically in array arguments to SUMPRODUCT *and* MMULT (and, I figure but haven’t tested, other functions expecting numeric arguments).

    Add to this the fact that OOo Calc provides RELATIVE worksheet addresses as well as absolute ones, and it’s almost fair to say OOo Calc has passed up Excel in terms of formula capabilities. The big remaining wart is recalc speed. OOo Calc isn’t as fast as Excel. Then again, OOo Calc supports regular expressions in formulas, so maybe it does beat out Excel even though it is a bit slower.

    From my biased perspective, about the only thing Excel has in its favor is VBA. How long until Microsoft screws that up too? I include sitting on their thumbs, making no true improvements (e.g., adding the ribbon to the VBE would **NOT** be an improvement!), and letting OOo catch up.

    Then again, to be fair, OOo Calc 3 does only provide 1024 columns by 65536 rows per worksheet. No match for Excel’s supersized grid.

    [Can anyone suggest a reason Microsoft is still able to sell Works that doesn’t involve, er, leverage through OEM Windows pricing?]

  2. Rob Bruce Says:

    “Then again, to be fair, OOo Calc 3 does only provide 1024 columns by 65536 rows per worksheet. No match for Excel’s supersized grid.”

    That’s a disadvantage how? The supersized grid is a corporate disaster waiting to happen.

    Given all of the effort MS has put into getting data from external sources into Excel via various means, there is no point at all in having a million rows, other than offering idiots the opportunity to build ever more rubbish spreadsheets.

  3. Ross Says:

    Rob, I’m guessing there was a hint of irony in Harlans comment about the big grid?

    Simon I would not use the start center, I hate the office toolbar thing too.
    I dint see any referance to VBA though?

    Shame that OOo is a bit slow, but looks like its getting better and better with each go!

  4. Simon Says:

    I ended up downloading it (no bother).
    I think the 1024 x 64k is the sweet spot
    I’ve never run out of rows when building something sensible, but have often bumped against the 256 columns (with stuff on the edge of sensibleness ;-))
    First impressions of OOo Calc 3.0 – I like it, bit of a dog to start, but everything is where you would expect. It has OOXML support but no sign of Excel 2007s new functions
    Fuller review to follow at some point

  5. Bob Phillips Says:

    Harlan, when I was in Seattle earlier in the year we were meeting with the Excel team and they were asked why help does not explain conditional testing in SUMPRODUCT. I mentioned that SP uses it, but it applies equally to array formulae as well. The Excel guys we were talking to, which included a help technical writer for Excel, looked blankly at us; they were not even aware that the functions were being used in that way. So I don’t think it is policy, or intent, it is just ‘ivory tower’ syndrome.

  6. Harlan Grove Says:

    Rob – Ross correctly detected the sarcasm.

    Bob – ignorance works as an explanation for inactivity, though difficult to believe in the case of SUMPRODUCT, which has been used this way for at least 10 years. Guess the types of formulas users actually use wasn’t part of the extensive and comprehensive usage data they’ve been collecting since Office 2003. [That’s more sarcasm.] Guess the newsgroup archives aren’t usable data – no one at MSFT knows how to mine text data.(?!)

  7. Simon Says:

    Harlan
    Half the people working at MS were just starting secondary school 10 years ago (dunno what the US equivalent is called, its the school you are start in the year you are 11 in much of the UK). The organisation has amnesia – each academic year they have to relearn what their forebears knew well.

    I reckon that user experience thingy was just the buttons/menus? but so few people enabled it, it was meaningless anyway right?

  8. Jon Peltier Says:

    Harlan –

    “…difficult to believe in the case of {insert feature name here}, which has been used this way for at least {insert number here} years.”

    You have to realize that for all the Excel programmers know structurally about Excel, none of them have ever used it in anger. They forget Excel is merely a tool. They haven’t had occasion to use one feature because another is inadequate. They haven’t learned how to enhance certain features to add relevance to particular sets of users, because they have not had to work in those same businesses. The programmers don’t know of the newsgroups or other forums. Interactions with users is handled by different divisions, and the usage patterns never get relayed back as long as the service tickets are closed out.

    Simon –

    That’s called middle school here, but secondary school also describes it.

  9. Rob Bruce Says:

    Sorry for being so slow, Harlan. In these topsy turvy days when the banks are nationalised to save capitalism and people are pining for the return of hyperinflation in the property market, it’s sometimes difficult to know when real life ends and comedy starts.

  10. Bob Phillips Says:

    Harlan, it is difficult to believe I know, but these are not real Excel users. These guys are typical Excel, non-power users, they pull in data, cross check the numbers, pivot it for a simple analysis, and chart it probably. All nice uses of Excel, but hardly ground-breaking stuff. As for comprehensive usage stats, don’t make me laugh. SQIIRM is the only relevant data to them. Anybody who really uses Excel turns SQUIRM off so MS only gets the LCD. So I guess in reaity the ribbon and the new charting model is our fault, we didn’t send in our data.

    Jon, inadequate is a bit harsh. I think it is fairer to say that they haven’t had occasion to use the inherent flexibility of Excel to create that extra functionality that the designers never dreamed of

  11. Harlan Grove Says:

    I guess it’d be too much to expect for the Excel developers to seek out the opinions of Excel user’s in Microsoft’s own finance or treasury departments. That’s assuming Microsoft employees in those departments get to use Excel rather than so many ASP.Net/web service applications.

    As for help and blank-faced technical writers, given how few changes there have been in online help compared to the number of errata which have been around for years, the technical writer was a part timer, no? If not, what exactly does s/he do since it doesn’t appear to be editing the help files.

  12. Simon Says:

    meetings

  13. sam Says:

    “Guess the types of formulas users actually use wasn’t part of the extensive and comprehensive usage data they’ve been collecting since Office 2003”
    – No, Remember Sumproduct is not used by “real users” – and MS has been interacting only with the real users – those who clicked on the paste button more often than the copy button – Which got recored in the feedback system – and voila – we had a larger Paste button in 007 – never mind the trivial conditional summing/counting capabilities sumproduct

  14. jonpeltier Says:

    Bob –

    Good point. The programmers don’t recognize or appreciate just how flexible Excel is. I’ve had discussions where I mentioned something I do (or wish I could do), and they ask why anyone would want that. I explain why I would want that, and the response is “oh…”

  15. Ross Says:

    Bob what are SQIIRM and QUIRM???

  16. Bob Phillips Says:

    Ross – that is my dyslexia. I am referring to the data that MS gets by people who agree to the automated feed, I believe that MS call it the ‘Customer Experience Improvement Programme’ (you know their biggest triumph). The files are actually SQM files (Service Quality Monitoring?), but I like to call them SQUIRM, because I am a huourous guy and the whole approach makes me squirm.

    Jon – that why question is really annoying. If they were a tad less defensive, they would be jumping on you eager to learn ways that the product is really used. You know that even when you explain why you want that feature, even if the Excel guys think it is a good idea, the chance of anything coming of it is remote.

  17. Doug Glancy Says:

    I checked out OO 3.0, particularly the VBA. You can open an xls with VBA and the code might run as expected, provided there are no events or forms. It doesn’t recognize “application.commandbars” or “commandbars.” I don’t see any capability for addins. It does recognize at least basic properties in a class. It does have a macro recorder (is that new?), that generates javascript, I think.

    I’m hoping 4.0 will have all the above and an IDE with Intellisense and an Object Browser.

  18. jonpeltier Says:

    I downloaded OO 3 the other day, installed it in a VM, and played for about 5 minutes. The interface is semi-familiar: while the icons look a little weird, the overall appearance is much like Classic Excel. It’s probably less disorienting than switching to Excel 2007.

    I tried looking at the programming environment, but didn’t have time to learn how to navigate it. I did notice signs that multiple languages are supported, but didn’t actually try writing a line of anything. When I get past my current crunch (in about two years, I’m afraid), I’ll give it some more attention.

  19. jonpeltier Says:

    I just read about this open office lookalike called Go-oo (http://go-oo.org/). They claim to improve on OO’s Excel interoperability and VBA capabilities.

    I’ve barely gotten into OO3, and now this new thing goes onto my to-do list.

  20. dougaj4 Says:

    Yes, another spreadsheet product is just what I need :)

    Nonetheless, it is downloaded, and will probably be installed before too long.

  21. Simon Says:

    Thanks for the link Jon
    its on my todo list too

  22. dougaj4 Says:

    First impressions of Go-oo 3. I haven’t tried any other oo3, so I don’t know how much is specific to Go-oo and what is in any oo3:

    Good:
    It opens xlsb files (and presumably the other formats new to XL 2007)
    It will run simple VBA macros and UDFs (after fixing the security settings, which are “high” by default)
    You can write a simple VBA UDF and there is a reasonable chance that it will work.

    Bad:
    Some files with macros just didn’t open, maby because they displayed a form when opening.
    Assigning a range parameter in a UDF to an array by declaring it as a Variant doesn’t seem to work. This for me is very very bad.
    The macro editor seems crude in comparison with the VBE; I guess that may be partially due to unfamiliarity.

    Overall:
    VBA support is much better than previous versions of oo, but still nowhere good enough for me to consider spending much time exploring this program, rather than doing something useful in Excel.

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