Archive for the ‘OpenOffice’ Category

Smurf on 2011

Saturday, 1st January, 2011

My 2010 predictions were a little tame I think, so I’m going to go more out on a limb this time around. I’ve covered a broader area this time too. I normally limit myself to spreadsheets and software, I’ve had a pop at some more general stuff this time.

IT Market

  1. Google will overtake Microsoft in market capitalisation (190 v 240 currently)
  2. MS won’t bid for Adobe.
  3. MS is fading fast as a general brand, especially with consumers, this will continue and probably accelerate
  4. Apple will pick up most of that consumer mind share in computing and software.
  5. I think someone might bid for HP this year, possibly Oracle if they can digest Sun in time. I don’t see too much anti competitive hassle from this and Larry has been softening them up with body blows for a few months
  6. Yahoo will surely disappear, I’m not sure how they survived this long
  7. Once people get bored of facebooking about facebook surely it will do a myspace?
  8. Linux won’t do much in 2011, I really thought netbooks would do it 2009/2010, but I was wrong. I don’t see a better chance in 2011. Tablets? I’m not convinced this time around.


  1. Phone and tablet software will be massive in consumerland. iOS and Android (and Blackberry), not Windows phone.
  2. PC consumer software will be a non story (in the general media)
  3. MS Office is in a death spin where no one understands the value it can generate so no one invests so no one discovers. MS will continue to fail dismally to market Office. They will cut marketing spend so they will send less of the wrong messages to the wrong people.
  4. Quite a few corps will start to migrate to O2010 in 2011 as many skipped 2007 and 2003 will be 2 years out of mainstream support. They won’t leverage many of the new features though, as its ‘just Office’ not an integrated part of strategic IT infrastructure like it should be. (message/people…)
  5. I think Windows 7 may be due for deployment in a lots of companies too.

Office development

  1. We will still be undervalued.
  2. We will still be loved by users and loathed by IT, who will continue to prevent us from using the best tools for the job.
  3. Office will continue to be userland so VBA still key, although job ads will request a knowledge of C#, but then not let you have Visual Studio.
  4. Microsoft will still not have a plausible .net/Excel development story. VSTO isn’t it
  5. .net developers will continue to abuse Excel as they don’t understand the object model or native code.
  6. Access will still be looked down on as a zero credibility toy – an image which hampers SharePoint uptake as Access is a million times better for managing lists than the 1970’s web UI. I’m currently calling my Access development Jet development to avoid raising the Access Alert.
  7. Office 15 Beta 1 will probably make it out of the door before the end of the year. Expect the ribbon to be nearly as good as 2003 toolbars, lots of unusable lock-in to server components that corps won’t deploy. Beefed up power features like cluster udfs in 2010 (perhaps performant .net udfs???). More eye candy cabbage/inappropriate intra suite standardisation. Closer Excel/Access integration may be on the cards, even as many corps seek to ban Access altogether, it may cheat death once again.
  8. Plenty more vacuous ‘spreadsheet control’ projects will start in 2011, although most will be tick box half hearted affairs. The crash knocked a bit of the wind out of the compliance gravy train sails. (can I mix methaphors like that?)
  9. there will be plenty of opportunities in financial services for folks with Excel/VBA/business – this market is hotting up after being depressed for 18 months or so – so many devs will have moved on.
  10. LibreOffice will continue where OpenOffice once went as the leading Office competitor, before Oracle alienated the whole dev community. Still won’t be much of a competitor though, sadly. OpenOffice will be gone by the end of 2011 imo, at least ‘gone’ like StarOffice.

General development

  1. Java will lose some light as it has been scuttled by Oracle, I think this will cause more of a general splinter rather than a mass migration to .net for example. Ruby, Python etc will likely be winners on the web/server, but maybe C++ will find some love, it has done with MS in VS2010.
  2. Or maybe there will be an unbreakable Oracle Java?
  3. Silverlight is doomed, so VS2012 might be useable. Silverlight is the Access of UI. MS just don’t know what to do with it. Smart devs will steer clear till they decide. Gone by 2012 imo.
  4. Objective C will probably be a worthwhile skill in 2011 (not a great synergy with VBA though :))
  5. F# will get plenty of buzz, but not a lot of actual traction, just because OO is inappropriate for whole swathes of software doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply engrained (as the ‘correct/best/professional’ way of developing anything)


  1. Well derr – tablets will be a big news story in 2010
  2. Netbooks will be replaced by tablets, in news, if not physically.
  3. The march to smartphones will make iPhone/Android/Blackberry development a very viable business model, especially compared to banging your head against the office dev wall.
  4. If the Ubuntu Tablet appears I’ll buy one ASAP.

I try not to be a ‘Microsoft watcher’ blogger partly because lots of people already do that, and partly because its hard to hit the right tone between sycophant (I earn my living in their tech after all) and irrelevant moaner.  But…


  1. MS is in a cost control phase at the moment. That means every investment/spend needs justifying.
  2. Plenty of possibly viable techs have been axed after massive investment over the past few years
  3. some of those have been brave (or mad – depends your pov) decisions
  4. This means very little is unquestionably safe – its perceived cost benefits, financially, ruthlessly.
  5. I think MS have lost the consumer space so they will focus more on the enterprise (which seems to work well for Oracle for example).
  6. Tight Office/.net integration? cost? benefit in increased unit sales income? – unlikely then…
  7. Windows phone? If it goes well in the next 6-12m then maybe, if not its out. Microsoft could exit this whole market with no obvious income loss (short term at least). (imo gone by 2012)
  8. Silverlight? compelling benefits or the next VB script? (imo gone by 2012)
  9. VSTO? essential .net/Office bridge? unfinishable unloved bodge? (imo VSTO will survive for a while as it joins a couple of cash cows)
  10. VBA? trusty workhorse? or poor implementation of a bad design? (imo safe as houses, there will be nothing that could be construed as a hint of retirement plans for this utterly vital (to MS) tech. Unless you take the complete lack of investment and development of the IDE as a hint of future plans of course)
  11. VSTA? remember that? VS editor in Office. Hmmm… I really don’t know if better .net/Office is coming to Office, If you pushed me I would say no, I don’t think O15 will have an integrated C# IDE.


  1. No double dip recession (if anyone thinks we are out of the last one yet) just a slow (er than reported) creeping recovery.
  2. 2011 will, in line with solar physicist predictions (again), be colder than 2010 by any reasonable measure.
  3. The Urban Heat Island effect will get some attention to try to explain the gaping void between what global warming ‘scientists’ say and what normal people see and feel.
  4. We will see more climate comedy – where a council or org has made a big business decision based on promises of global warming, only to be totally shafted by actual weather. Step forward Geneva canton and Lytham council – both allegedly sold their snow clearing equipment in recent years then struggled last winter and this winter. (could we include Heathrow?)(we can take UK road salt supplies as a consistent snafu.)
  5. Financial market volatility will increase, especially on the down side as algorithmic trading gets more aggressive safety cut outs.
  6. 2011 will be even more fad-tastic than 2010, game shows, reality tv, shit music, phone apps, blankets with sleeves…
  7. No big UK bank failures
  8. Another couple of Euro zone rescue plans will be required, someone might even notice the state of the UK economy.
  9. A Euro will almost certainly be worth more than a pound, although they are both in a race to the bottom at the moment.
  10. More intrusive security pantomime mischief will make air travel even more unpleasant but no more secure.
  11. Did I mention that spreadsheet development will still not be cool?

That’s about it for now, I need to go out mountain biking now the snow has melted. Sorry this is so long!

What do you see as the big news stories of the next 12m?

All the best for 2011



2010 looking back

Wednesday, 29th December, 2010

I just re-read my predictions for 2010 and I note I hardly went out on a limb, with most of them being either blindingly obvious or un-falsifiable. Here they were.

The big (IT) 2010 story for me is how Oracle and Microsoft fell in love. I totally didn’t see that coming at all. By destroying first the OpenOffice dev community, and secondly the Java community Oracle has hamstrung two of the few viable competitors Microsoft had. I’m not clear what Oracle get in return, MS maybe promised to keep Steve Ballmer in charge.

I’ll just skim over the predictions I made:


All the new stuff got released as expected, Office 2010 seems ok, they fixed some of the most obvious badness of 2007. VS2010 is the slowest, most bloated piece of pap I have ever used. I have 2008 and 2010 on my works machine and use 2008 wherever possible because you need a Cray super computer just to load VS2010 in under 3 minutes, never mind compile something.

I don’t think VBA went into freefall, it is still the user automation tool of choice (its a choice limited to one after all). But most financial services jobs are now looking for some C# in addition. Many seem to be trying VSTO and rejecting it though, and a lot of people I have spoken to recently are going the ExcelDNA route instead.

Sharepoint does seem to be hotting up, spreadsheets are ever more the scourge, Microsoft is becoming less relevant. There were quite a few spreadsheet risk/quality projects going on in 2010, they will be sharepoint clean ups in 2015.


Apple had a brilliant 2010 and that looks set to continue. The ipad still has no viable competition and they are flying off the shelves. Apple are reliving Microsoft from the 90’s before MS forgot that apps sell platforms. I can’t imagine Apple being too scared by the arrival of the Windows phone. I won’t get an iPad, but I could be tempted by the 11″ Air as a decent netbook to run Linux. Although rumours of an Ubuntu tablet in 2011 piqued my interest the other day.


Consumers are certainly living their lives more and more away from a pc on their ipads and iphones, not so sure about the corps? Blackberry still doing well.


I really hadn’t expected that you would have to be sexually abused in order to get on a plane, but I did forsee an increase in regulation. Luckily (?) with the change (?) in government in the UK the rate and intrusiveness of regulation seems to have slowed down, a little. Glad I’m not a banker though.

OLAP/BI seemed to stand still in 2010 as a lot of the column inches went on security and cloud fluff. Whilst we can argue about whether user requests could get a lower priority, I don’t think anyone would say they got higher in 2010.

Android seems to have picked up some credibility, although the Motorola Droid I have is the worst electrical device I ever owned.

Santa brought one of the kids a netbook for xmas but he gave up trying to find a Linux one and just got a windas 7 one. WTF happened to Linux on Netbooks?? They are as rare as rocking horse poop suddenly. Its pretty cool here though as all the kids want Ubuntu because it has the best games, so I’ll be replacing Microsofts’ finest with NBR 10.10 (no silly name this time?), obviously without caring about Ubuntu One.

So overall, many things seem to have turned out roughly as expected, a few haven’t (yet), some might never.

I’ll do my predictions for 2011 within the next few days, although from a spreadsheet point of view its hardly exciting.

What were your standout moments/trends/events from 2010?



non error error

Wednesday, 2nd June, 2010

how come this = 0 and not #REF or something?


=SUM(G8,#REF!) = #REF! as expected

=SUMIF(E7:E12,#REF!,F7:F12) = 0 too.

All in 2007 (and 2010), I don’t have a 2003 to check just now, is it the same? (just the SUMIF obviously, you dinosaurs don’t have the luxury of SUMIFS ;-))

OpenOffice returns the #REF! I would expect.

Would you expect a formula to return an error if one of its required arguments is an error?

In fairness if there are #REF!s in the data it matches them and returns the total, so in a literal sense it ‘works’, but I’m not sure its what I would expect. What about you?



IBM move to OpenOffice

Monday, 14th September, 2009

Allegedly anyway, and its actually to Symphony, which is based on OOo.

Here is a bit more info.

I bet there are a few unhappy bunnies in finance and marketing wondering how they are going to get their VBA stuff working properly in 10 days.

The main goal seems to be to move off MS file formats to ODF, which is fair enough, unless that means you need multiple versions of the same doc in different file formats, for example if customers mandate MS Office formats.

I have seen gasping reports that this could spell the end for MS Office. But to paraphrase Winnie C, I don’t think this is the end, not even the beginning of the end, it could, however, be the end of the beginning.

I’ll start investing in OOo when I see jobs on Jobserve, just like I’ll consider any tech. I do however use OOo, probably as much as MS Office for my own bits and bobs, but that Starbasic is grim.

Do you use OOo much?



Some Marketshare stats

Thursday, 10th September, 2009

I just found a link to here on el Reg.

Some really interesting info, gathered from about 10,000 volunteer machines. Of course there are plenty of arguments that the sample is not representative. What with them having to volunteer on-line, install some (never in a million years gonna get corporate approval) software, no non Windows OSes, etc.

So I’m thinking the best way to treat the data is to believe anything that backs up my personal views and assume a flawed sample for anything that might suggest I’m wrong. (don’t tell me you don’t do that?? ;-)). That and wonder why some of the charts add up to way more than 100%.

In reality I think the sample will be heavily biased to fairly (but not highly) tech savvy individuals.

The big surprise for me is how high the Office 2007 figures are, balanced in a way by how high the OOo proportion is. And Vista seems to have done better than I would expect. Both of these could be explained by the (assumed) sample bias to individuals.

What do you think? Any surprises in there for you?




Wednesday, 18th February, 2009

Interesting story here the author is discussing another post proposing that MS cut the MacBU to bolster their O/S marketshare, and save a few quid. The idea being that if MS stop writing software for the Mac then Macs marketshare would decline as everyone rushed back to Windows.

I don’t think Mac marketshare would decrease if MS Office was suddenly not available on Macs – do you?

Personally I think that is the best possible thing Microsoft could do for OpenOffice. OOo is already the best cross platform option, but it has only recently got a native look and feel on Macs.

If MS did bin Mac Office, then I think OOo would quickly become the standard on none MS o/s which is just over 10% – thats enough to start a trend. And I think it would, and that trend would be away from MS Office and in turn away from MS Windows.

So I agree with the post I linked to, and I reckon the guy he linked to is well wrong.

Whats your take?



OpenOffice Dev

Thursday, 5th February, 2009

I was chatting with a fellow dev the other day and he told me about one of the jobs he had had.

The client had worked out their Ms Office licence fees were x thousand per year. They estimated that to get everything working in Open Office would cost about x thousand (including recoding all the VBA as Star basic).

So they paid this guy the same x to do the work over a period of months and have paid nothing for office suite licensing since.

I find that very interesting for several reasons.

  1. Payback in 12 months is a good return
  2. The figures were 10’s of thousands of pounds so they must have had a significant investment in MS Office.
  3. I still don’t see why these projects seem to be so rare.
  4. Is this a future opportunity?
  5. In a few more releases the VBA would probably have worked in OOo.
  6. I’m watching IEs marketshare plummet, watching the strange things happening in MS Office, and wondering if OOo can do what Firefox has?

I know whenever we discuss this, very few people see any signs of migration. If you do see any evidence then let us know, even if its to Google etc.



Is OpenOffice attrifying?

Monday, 5th January, 2009

Michael Meeks certainly seems to think so

Whilst he accepts there are plenty of flaws in his analysis, the broad picture is pretty discouraging.

He reckons OO has about 24 active (code) contributors. MS Office 2007 had 700 staff! Although I’m not sure how many of them were coders, or how many were actually sabotaging the interface instead of enhancing the product. I’d guess 100 coders? (I can’t remember where I read that 700 staff number, anyone got a link?)

Michael points to some grim procedures as part of the cause, and I’m sure that is the case. My personal opinion though is that there are very few C/C++ coders who are that interested in office suites.

Its the same story in the MS world – Vista has had all the headlines, very few bothered to delve into the actual apps that ‘users’ use.

I looked at contributing to OOo, and its still on the list of ‘one day’s, but I want to start off with Gnumeric as that codebase seems easier to follow. A couple of things put me off contributing code though

  1. The need to sign over some part of the copyright to Sun – that doesn’t seem very ‘open source’ (thats OOo not Gnumeric)
  2. Getting into coding in Linux
  3. The need to earn a living

I hope to get there one day, but for now it seems that those with the technical skills don’t have the interest in the applications, and those with the interest in the applications do not have the requisite technical skills.

This conundrum is something Microsoft have come very close to solving with Office VBA. And something it now looks like they have thrown away with the spurning of VBA in favour of .net developer technology.

There are a few .net/Office devs around, and some great resources, but not many compared to the huge body of VBA resources available. Even though VBA has been unloved (in MS) since the 90’s.

If OOo made it possible for ordinary users to write add-ins and extensions, with no more difficulty than VBA do you think that would boost the community contributions?

(Michael is one of the folks working on getting VBA into OOo)

I don’t know if it would show up on his stats but I do think it would boost the OpenOffice ecosystem. Frankly you would have to be pretty dedicated to port a VBA app to StarBasic.

I think End User customisation and development facilities are essential in this end user productivity space, OOo seem to know that, MS used to know it but seem to have forgotten. And I do mean END USER, ‘professional’ dev tools are handy enough, but its the application users who need the power more than the IT team.

I want OpenOffice to do well, if it does it could easily replace MS Office as my target environment. Even if it doesn’t reach those heady heights, if it just gives MS the kick up the arse they need to listen to their actual customers instead of corporate IT middlemen, it will have succeeded for a lot of knowledge workers.

Maybe I need to re-prioritise OOo a little higher.



Microsoft PAYG patent

Wednesday, 31st December, 2008

MJF has a piece about a recent patent MS got for pay as you go computing of some sort.

I was going to leave this comment there but there were far too many hurdles to leave a simple comment.

This might be appealing to groups who can’t afford netbooks.

Microsoft has no current software targeting this form factor – Vista is too resource greedy, Office 2007 UI is too screen greedy. Win 7 is not going to fix this.

I think Linux netbooks are the main competition for this PAYG, and IMO are much better. I have Ubuntu netbook remix on my Acer Aspire One, its superb.

With corporates pulling out of SA and EA, I think Microsoft subscriptions are proving to be unpopular. Possibly because of the ‘OW starts now’ with EVO (Exchange Vista Office in 2007).

Thats my view, I’m not a fan of rentals, what do you think?

Is renting software by features used/needed radical and new and exciting? or not?

I think MS need to do something to target netbooks – OS and Apps. My kids got Linux netbooks for Christmas and are now learning OOo not MSO, Firefox not IE, Linux not Windows. (in fairness they are just playing flash games found through google!)

Maybe MS should resurrect Office 2003 (as they did with Win XP – just for netbooks) – at least that UI can be customised to work on a 600px high screen.



Safe spreadsheeting

Tuesday, 16th December, 2008

Has anyone done the safe spreasheet assessment from Q-Validus here?

A few (/load) of us did it at Eusprig last year as a trial run. I thought it was pretty good. Better than some of the on-line assessments I have done over the years.

Has anyone implemented a policy where only people who have passed that test and/or done some advanced training get to work on mission critical spreadsheets? How did that work?

One of the papers at Eusprig last year had it as a proposal that seemed logical and yet was strongly resisted. I can see why it would be, given the freewheeling nature of the end user computing world. But I can also see how it makes sense from a risk management pov.

Would you take the test (if ‘encouraged’)?

Do you think you could get the folks you work with or support to do it?

Do you have some ad-hoc or in house assessment process for managing access to these important resources?