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Old 4th August 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Default OpenOffice and MS Office Docs

Hello,

I know that OpenOffice and open MS Office documents (more-or-less, the formatting sometimes is off) - but, can it reliably save documents as MS Office? I know that it can, but my question is how well? Would someone know that the file (Word & Excel mainly) wasn't done in MS Office because the formatting has been all messed up?
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Old 5th August 2008
drhowarddrfine drhowarddrfine is offline
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I don't know but, as a side note, the author of "High Performance mySQL" has written several books and says that Office is far buggier than OpenOffice and is a pain to work with for writing books. He very much prefers working with OO than Office.
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Old 5th August 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by drhowarddrfine View Post
I don't know but, as a side note, the author of "High Performance mySQL" has written several books and says that Office is far buggier than OpenOffice and is a pain to work with for writing books. He very much prefers working with OO than Office.
I don't disagree (though, I doubt I'd write a book in OpenOffice - more like vim with tex ). But, it's not a question of performance or stability, it's a question of compatibility. If my boss says give me this in an MS format, I have one of two choices - use Office or use OpenOffice and export to Office format. If the OpenOffice conversion is suboptimal, I'm then left with only one choice.

Unfortunately, I don't have MS Office on my home computer to do comparisons on. So, I can't tell myself how well the conversion is - though I do know that converting from MS format isn't always 100% effective (i.e., formatting).
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Old 5th August 2008
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I've had mixed luck going in either direction. It depends a lot on the document complexity, as is well known. I deal mainly with NIH forms, and OO.o does OK, but not well enough.

You really just have to try it and compare.
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Old 5th August 2008
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Piers Anthony, the well known science fiction and fantasy author, uses OO and sends his novels in with their format, I believe. Of course, the fact that his books are always best sellers is going to help keep the publisher from sending it back and saying, Manuscripts must be in .doc format.

His books over the years had several "Afterwards" where he spoke about his trials and tribulations getting Linux to be usable for him. (This goes back many years, when it was harder to use than it is these days.) He had decided that he really didn't like MS, and was looking for alternatives.

Of course, if some unknown author sent in a manuscript in OO format, it would probably be rejected.
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Old 5th August 2008
kazcor kazcor is offline
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Personally, the only thing I have recognized is a problem with graphics. When you embed graphics in a OO writer document, save it as DOC and afterwards open it with M$Word, those images are either not existent or they are not interpreted as objects in their own frame, so you don't have a chance of modifying any of their options (including positioning/size).
Another thing is the conversion of tables between OOimpress and M$Powerpoint - I don't remember in which direction, but if you're going to have a table of size 2x2 on one side, you'll end up with 4 text-frames on the other side Of course, not to speak about fonts and animations

A few years ago the german - well, let's call it - "federation" started on migration guides. Version 2.0 is available in English and explains migration problems between M$2003 and OOo (page 273 et seqq.). This document is quite old (2005) and does not deal with all problems and migration in both directions. The new version 3.0 (dated Apr 2008) unfortunately is only available in German right now, but it is a really good comparison as far as I can see.
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Old 5th August 2008
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Save the doc as *.rtf (which is the default in Wordpad by the way).
Won't save every *.doc feature, but what it'll save is portable.
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Old 5th August 2008
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by lvlamb View Post
Save the doc as *.rtf (which is the default in Wordpad by the way).
Won't save every *.doc feature, but what it'll save is portable.
Not all of my files are going to be .doc - many (and the most important so far) are Excel (spreadsheet) documents. And I don't have any experience with converting Excel files in OpenOffice - either in or out.
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Old 5th August 2008
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Well, Excel, ... Gnumeric is said to be more compatible to Excel than Excel itself.
But,
not all macros pass, not all graphs pass, ...
I personally find Gnumeric a better spreadsheet than OOcalc. Same non-compatibility btw.

There is an Open Document Architecture, the FLOSS version is comprehensive in OO, unfortunately Redmond designed an Open Document Architecture which is said better ('course you pay a license fee!) hence no full compatibility.

Now, as these are compressed XML files, you can always decompress them and mull them through sed.
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Old 5th August 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvlamb View Post
But, not all [gnumeric] macros pass, not all graphs pass, ...
I personally find Gnumeric a better spreadsheet than OOcalc. Same non-compatibility btw.
I agree. I never use Calc -- too many incompatibilities (unless it has changed recently). Gnumeric falls down on graphs, but otherwise is pretty decent.

FWIW, I think graphics from all spreadsheets are useful only for crude data exploring. For anything more complicated you need a plotting package. I like Grace on Unix; there is a clone on Windows (I can look up the name if you care, but this is getting OT).
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Old 6th August 2008
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Hello,

Thanks - Gnumeric looks interesting (aside from forcing Gnome to be installed). I haven't had to do any graphs yet. I'm going to give OpenOffice a shot and see how it does (and I'm planning on having WinXP available via virtualization).

What I'm using Excel for instance - my boss wrote a perl script that takes an Excel generated CSV file and converts it to a DHCP entry(ies), so all you have to do is cut and paste into dhcpd.conf. This is nice for when you have to add 70 new hosts and someone emails you an Excel spreadsheet with their information in it. This method takes less than five minutes compared to how long to type in all that information manually (though, I still see room for improved automation).

I use Word to write up reports on, say, usage of a certain program. I could easily, probably much more so, write it up in OO and save it as an .odt or .rtf file, but my bosses would probably flip their lids if I did (not good for me). Where I work is slooowly coming around to alternatives, but they are still very hand-in-hand with Microsoft.
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Old 6th August 2008
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If you do simple text with paragraphs, some mixed fonts and little else, then OO.o is fine. It gets hairy when you have complex tables, fill-in forms, images and stuff like that. For straight text there are no problems.

For the simple spreadsheet application you describe, most anything will work. csv is a standard format, and simple tables with strings they all do.

I'd personally do the Perl script in awk, but I'm old school.
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Old 6th August 2008
drhowarddrfine drhowarddrfine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
This is nice for when you have to add 70 new hosts and someone emails you an Excel spreadsheet with their information in it.
That sounds like a strange use for a spreadsheet.
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Old 6th August 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drhowarddrfine View Post
That sounds like a strange use for a spreadsheet.
On the contrary, managers, administrative assistants, & Human Relations personnel tend to live in Microsoft Office (and/or Microsoft Project...). Creating a list of new employees for the coming week is frequently in the purview of HR-types & distributed to managers who either have new charges coming into their departments or passed on to IT personnel & payroll to ensure that all bureaucratic paperwork is completed by the time these new people start.

Converting back-&-forth between CSV & Excel's native format has been a product feature since day one, & of course, manipulating comma separated value records is exceptionally easy in Perl or any other language which supports regular expressions.

Collaterally, I have seen technical writers keep track of API calls they have to include in printed documentation in either Excel spreadsheets or Access databases -- both of which I have written Perl scripts to manipulate.

Microsoft Office has been a huge money maker for a reason. Much of business lives in the various applications.
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