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NewsForge Reviews Excel Clone for Linux 312

Posted by Hemos
from the breaking-the-XLS-tyranny dept.
martin-k writes "NewsForge has a glowing review about PlanMaker for Linux, a new spreadsheet for Linux that is much more compatible with Microsoft Excel than the competition and speedier, too. PlanMaker has Excel-compatible charting and AutoShapes and reads and writes any Excel file you throw at it. Here is a chart comparing Excel, OpenOffice.org, and PlanMaker." Yes, Virginia, NewsForge is also part of OSDN, like Slashdot.
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NewsForge Reviews Excel Clone for Linux

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  • Interesting.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Luscious868 (679143) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:23AM (#9537178)
    I think I'll look at it. Sometimes OpenOffice.org chockes on certain Excel spreadsheets that I try to open in it. I'm curious to see if this will do any better.
    • Re:Interesting.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bugmenot (788326)
      This is nice, but the last thing that the open source community needs is more choices. This software will only weaken the openoffice user base and make Microsoft stronger. They should join forces with the OO developers and build ONE great product.
      • Re:Interesting.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tarantolato (760537) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:40AM (#9537278) Journal
        This has nothing to do with the open source community. It's a proprietary app that happens to run on Linux. Also, OpenOffice spreadsheet already weakened userbase of Gnumeric, which was and is a better and more compatible app. I don't see you whining about that.
        • Re:Interesting.... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Donny Smith (567043)
          Noone said it's got anything to do with F/OSS community - it's just a _better_ spreadsheet for Linux.

          > weakened userbase of Gnumeric, which was and is a better and more compatible app. I don't see you whining about that.

          As far as most practical users are concerned, who gives a damn.
          Sure it'd be great if Linux had a perfectly compatible and "free" Office application but it doesn't (yet).

          Why is it that "yet another" syndrom is always welcome when the other app is F/OSS and trashed when the other app is
      • This is nice, but the last thing that the open source community needs is more choices.

        I disagree. The opensource community is about choice. Could you picture a world with 1 linux distribution or 1 browser? Part of the power in opensource that freedom of choice. The question is not "where do you want to go today?" it is "how do I get job done today". Also, I find the whole opensource vs. MS thing a waste of energy. At the end of the day open source has no competition because it's a debate of ideolog

      • Re:Interesting.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eyeye (653962) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:04PM (#9537409) Homepage Journal
        What linux actually needs is a spreadsheet app that can run VBA.

        From working in a large company I can say that most people only ever used a small number of features - excel becomes a requirement because "programmers" write utilities in VBA!

        Surely being VBA compatible wouldnt be that hard, it is a joke of a language.
        • Re:Interesting.... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jody Goldberg (61349)
          amen

          Unfortunately it's a non-trivial amount of work to write a vba clone. Not impossible by any means, but it does require a community to do it. We started the gb project years ago, but it faded away without real progress. I'm currently pinning my hopes on mono and it's basic implementation.
      • Re:Interesting.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by willCode4Beer.com (783783) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:15PM (#9537468) Homepage Journal
        Never tell me that the last thing I need is more choices. I use linux specifically because it give me MORE CHOICES.

        ARRRGGG. This is the attitude that has caused there to be a dominant platform.
        I don't want Linux to be dominant, I don't want Macs to be dominant and I don't want Windows to be dominant. When there is a variety of system, they need to embrace open standards (open source or not), and compete. This can provide better software for all.

        Now mod me down because my rant is off topic.
        • it's not OS dominance, or even hardware dominance, it's standards. what is noce about OO.org (and apple's Keynote) is that it's files are XML based. office's lock-in didn't come because it was, or even is, the superior product. in fact, word is by and large, a bloated pile of crap. but, the problem for most is not the app, it's the file. look, you can use mozilla, IE, safari, opera, lynx, etc., to view web pages, but you really have one choice to view .doc files. the lock-in is file compatibility. mi
  • Let me be the first (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:25AM (#9537184) Homepage Journal
    Let me be the first to say what everyone else is gearing up to say.

    gnumeric exists. Acknowledge both its existence and superiority in the world of spreadsheets.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      why not try gimp [gimp.org] instead?
    • gnumeric exists. Acknowledge both its existence and superiority in the world of spreadsheets.

      Superiority? Almost everyone else uses Excel... and the ability to read other people's spreadsheets is a very important characteristic in most environments where spreadsheets are used.

      That's why Planmaker (and OpenOffice to some extent) should scare Microsoft. People may think MS Office stinks, but the pain of having to convert all your existing files, and finding a way to exchange files with your MS Office u

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Errm... I think the grandparent was referring to Gnumeric's capabilities as an office-compatible spreadsheet, rather than an all-or-nothing rival. Gnumeric has been fast, capable, and very complete for some time now. It's the most polished office app available for GNOME, quite probably.
      • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:13PM (#9537818) Homepage Journal
        Actually it's an excellent product. Granted the Mac Version is better (amazing by how much), but it is in my opinion the best office suite available. My only complaint is the price.

        I like OpenOffice as well, however I never use any features that would conflict between OO and MS Office with the exception of passwords. However, you should never use an MS password if what your storing is actually important. Downloading cracking tools is very easy and free (astalavista.box.sk). Real encryption is necessary for critical documents/spreadsheets not the garbage built into access/excel/word. I've cracked so many competitors stupid presentation info it's sad really that they trust adding a password at all (pdf's as well).

        MS Office is great but overkill for my company so we just use OO and it works well and is missing any license violations/bsa audits.
  • Pfft (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:27AM (#9537195)
    50 bux for a spreadsheet app? I'll stick with the free Gnumeric [gnome.org] instead.
  • Any bets.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bugmenot (788326) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:28AM (#9537199) Homepage Journal
    on how long it will take until MS changes Excel to make it incompatible with this application?
    My guess is that they will release a new security patch for Excel within a month.
    • I think the better question might be, "when is MS office going to be able to save files in other formats?" there will come a time when MS will have to adapt to the other programs and formats. Microsoft is supposed to be about ease of use, and compatability, which is why so many people use their products.
    • Re:Any bets.. (Score:3, Informative)

      Stop spreading FUD. I dislike MS and there tactics as much as the next guy but the format has not changed for several years now and only when they needed to add new features.
  • by Travis Fisher (141842) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:28AM (#9537201)
    One of the best spreadsheets for linux, gnumeric [gnome.org] has support for 100% of Excel's functions as well as most of its other features. Its one of the highest quality and most stable pieces of software I've ever seen for linux. Its amazing they overlooked this as competition.
    • by Tarantolato (760537) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:35AM (#9537246) Journal
      The extent to which OpenOffice is hyped has sadly cut into a lot of Gnumeric's mindshare, despite it being the better product by far. I know some people like to hate Miguel de Icaza for trying to port .NET, but he did a fuck of a good job on the foundation of Gnumeric and the present team has kept on making it better. Don't fall for "bundling": use the better program.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:44AM (#9537304)
        As the vast bulk of the excel spreadsheets I deal with are embedded in word documents, the "bundling" in Open Office is far more important to me than anything else, and Open Office's excel compatibility is already "good enough" for most people.

        This is what FreeDesktop.org people need to realise: The single MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is agree on a standard Linux component embedding (OLE/COM) technology, and then maybe one day people _will_ have the choice of using gnumeric instead of OOo Calc to read excel data embedded in word documents being edited in OOo Writer. But
        it DOESN'T WORK YET.

        Microsoft just dictates their OLE in their normal stalinist style, but we can't. So we need to have a lively technical debate, and then broad agreement on a baseline set. I recommend specifying protocol, not binary API, in the normal X fashion, but make it good!

        • We already have it. It's called KParts. :D
          • by Anonymous Coward
            KParts make the same mistake as microsoft OLE - they work on the concept of particular programs being associated with embedded data. What should be the case, is the embedded data should have a mimetype, and _any_ embeddable program that can handle that mimetype should be able to edit it-the parent program should query for a data handler i.e. specify protocol, not method.
      • In speaking of not talking about GNUmeric because people may not like Miguel de Icaza for the Mono project:

        I don't really understand what is the real problem about it. Yes, .NET is a "creation" of Microsoft and we all know that Microsoft is the big bad wolf that wants to eat all our grandmothers - but still it may have good ideas and just because they are the bad guys, we should not forget the good things they may come up with and adapt those ideas (with even more good ideas from the free software comunity
        • The "ECMA and ISO ideas" only cover a small part of Dotnet, the rest is proprietary.

          The problem is that Mono falls between two stools: it's neither a complete Dotnet clone, meaning that users get no true Dotnet/Mono portability; nor has it confined itself to merely "adapting" ideas from Dotnet - it's similarity is a good deal closer than that.

          Mono is therefore asking its users to risk infringing MS's IP without delivering the associated benefit of real portability. There's little likelihood of Mono ever b
        • .NET is the next step in the logarithmically expanding Microsoft security problem. DUH!
    • by tashanna (409911) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:48AM (#9537326)
      As much as I applaud Gnumeric for their great implementation, it's still a Linux/Unix only implementation. PlanMaker and OO are both cross-platform for those who can't ditch Windows. If a user can't leave Windows behind, that places Gnumeric out of the running.
      • This is true, but if you're limited to Windows, there's a case to just use MS Office. If you're looking for cheap (free) implementations, OpenOffice is certainly the way to go, and PlanMaker is certainly something to consider, but if you're going to go with a closed-source application on a Windows platform *anyway*, it makes sense (as much as it's uncharacteristic to admit it) to consider MS Office as a full office package. After all, if you're on Windows, you won't necessarily have too much issue with the
        • What are you talking about?

          For most people Windows comes pre-installed on their computer, and Dell (or whoever) didn't pay too much to Windows for the license. And they probably need Windows anyway for some other applications.

          But to get MS Office means sending a lot more of your money to MS, or pretending you're a teacher or something like that. And if you do buy MSOffice you're going to start spreading MSOffice documents. If you install some cross-platform MSOffice alternative you'll be one (giant) st
      • GnuMeric, as with the rest of GNOME 1.4 or KDE 3.1.4, runs just fine on Windows when compiled in the Cygwin Linux API implementation. You can also use Cygwin as a host for XFree86, this is the only way to get a free, fully featured X-server on Windows.

        References.
        Cygwin homepage [cygwin.com]
        Gnome 1.4 apps for Cygwin [sourceforge.net]
        Cygwin Gnome homepage [sourceforge.net]
        KDE on Cygwin homepage [sourceforge.net]

        Cygwin is a brilliant tool to help manage a migration from Windows to Linux. I don't know why we dont hear of it more.
        • Apparently, though, if you wish to run GNOME 1.4 you need to use an older version of Cygwin (1.3) and XFree86 4.2. The Cy-GNOME project team are working on porting GNOME 2 and are unlikely to make the necessary changes to the 1.4 tree to support it on current Cygwin releases.

          Whether this means currently the available binaries won't run, I'm not sure. It may be necessary to do a manual compile from the Gnumeric source code using Cygwin-GCC. This has caught my attention now.....
        • There's already Gnome 2 for Cygwin [cygnome2.sf.net], but Gnumeric wasn't ported (or at least packaged) yet.

          It would be nice if Debian MS W32 [debian.org] went forward, so that we'd have a better installer than Cygwin's.

      • >
        As much as I applaud Gnumeric for their great implementation, it's still a Linux/Unix only implementation.

        No, it is a Gnome implementation. That means it can be relatively easily ported to MS Windows (Red Hat Cygwin) or Mac OS X. There were some Gnome ports around, don't know if they live still.

      • As much as I applaud Gnumeric for their great implementation, it's still a Linux/Unix only implementation. PlanMaker and OO are both cross-platform for those who can't ditch Windows. If a user can't leave Windows behind, that places Gnumeric out of the running.

        Gnumeric 1.4 with Windows support is just around the corner. Abiword List post by Jody [abisource.com]

      • We run on osx www.openosx.com
        and cvs head is ready and all of its dependencies compile under win32 with gtk-2.4.x. We're very very close to getting a release out.
  • by stroustrup (712004) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:31AM (#9537217) Journal
    The greatest limitation of excel for scientific calculations is that number of rows is limited to 64k.

    I was hoping the open source or free versions would overcome this limitation but none of them do so as this makes them incompatible with excel.
    can't someone figure out a smart solution for this without asking the user to modify the source themselves??
  • More sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barcodez (580516) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:31AM (#9537223)
    Wouldn't it make more sense to work with OO.o not against them?
    • Re:More sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:40AM (#9537273) Homepage
      In this case the question is simply wrong. SoftMaker is around longer than most software companies. I remember the first SoftMaker adverts in a PC magazine in 1987, where they announced their TextMaker for 149,- DM (Deutschmark), which was a 5th of the usual price for a text processing software at the time. Germany had always several small office productivity companies, and one of them brought us on the road to OpenOffice (StarDivision, now bought by SUN), and SoftMaker is also still alive and kicking, working from the beginning with a "sell cheap, sell enough" model for their software.

      They survived all the storms of time by getting large contracts with public administrations like towns and counties. And there they probably got most of their bugreports from, because a town administration can be sure to get lots of quite strange documents, in content and in form.
    • This is for-pay, just below 50 euros. I guess you cannot take OOo sources and license it proprietary...
      • Re:More sense (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sique (173459)
        You can charge money. You just have to provide the sourcecode. See the GNU FAQ [gnu.org]. You can't change the license because you got other people's work with this license and THEY have to agree to the change.
  • Non-Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4im (181450) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:36AM (#9537249)

    Whatever it's qualities may be, this PlanMaker thingie is non-free (as in speech and as in beer). This makes it very much uninteresting for quite some people. If there's a decent alternative that's free (hint: there are, several), then that's the way to go IMHO.

  • by RLiegh (247921) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:36AM (#9537250) Homepage Journal
    If it's as good at working with Microsoft's patented file format, and is so close of a clone of Excel; how long until Microsoft eliminates them through legal means?
    • by Sique (173459)
      Not until software patents are valid in Germany. There is still a certain way to go. Of course Microsoft could stop the distribution in the U.S. by legal means, but SoftMakers market right now is Germany, and they are slowly expanding to the E.U.
    • > how long until Microsoft eliminates them through legal means?
      It depends. Maybe they paid MS for a .so port of some .dll. Who knows?
  • Obvious question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrjb (547783) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:37AM (#9537255)
    We all assume that once it being a Linux product, it's open source, but I see nothing in the article mentioning that it is. So.

    Is it open source?

    Second, they claim better Excel compatibility than OOo, how did they manage this.

    Maybe they licensed some code?

    I like having good compatibility, from a technical point of view, we are only going to benefit from better compatibility if there is documentation on how it was achieved. Could anyone mail OOo a link to those specs?
    • Re:Obvious question (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jody Goldberg (61349)
      1) not open source
      2) They certainly have good filters for such a young project, but the claim of _better_ seems questionable. The test cases they provide are not consistent with my testing of the beta.
  • by t482 (193197) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:39AM (#9537269) Homepage
    The product is $50 USD and is closed source commercial-ware. Why not just buy win4lin ($99) and run an old version of Excel 97?

    Alternatively you get codeweavers wine for $40 and run your old MS Office tools and at the same time support wine development.

    More important is to have OpenOffice have all the Excel charting functionality. Currently OOo Charting tools are a bit more crude.

    Compatibility for WordArt is not at the top of my requirements list for compatibility.

    • Compatibility for WordArt is not at the top of my requirements list for compatibility. Oh Jesus! People here bitch about Flash, but they obviously haven't been in an office where WordArt is in heavy use. It's a fucking monstrosity that offends god and man, I tell you.

      It's definitely on my list of things I don't want to see compatibility for.
    • The product is $50 USD and is closed source commercial-ware. Why not just buy win4lin ($99) and run an old version of Excel 97?
      Err.. because $50 is less than $99 + >$100?
  • by frontloader (96227) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:40AM (#9537277) Homepage
    i havent bothered to look at planmaker, but i use gnumeric [over OO.org] for spreadsheet work.. and it rocks the house.

    besides.. :
    tengu:/home/mschupp# apt-get install planmaker
    Reading Package Lists... Done
    Building Dependency Tree... Done
    E: Couldn't find package planmaker
  • by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@@@foresightlinux...com> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:41AM (#9537283) Homepage
    Okay, so I always seem to be posting this in reply to any Excel clone news whatsoever, but I still feel it's a totally valid point, and whilst this is the case I shall continue to post it.

    What about the Macros? Surely this is one of the most important parts of Excel, and could even be one of the things that makes it such an indespensable tool for many companies. It gives it the freedom to move outside of the solely number crunching arena, and into a million and one other places.

    It's all very well having a new Excel clone for linux that can retain my conditional formatting better than ever, but 99% of the sheets I use here involve macros to open many .csv files, process the data in a particular way and then dump it all into pivot tables that are linked to other Excel spreadsheets. These are business critical, and until these work 100%, with no additional effort (some of the people that have to use these sheets are barely computer literate at all), there is no way on God's earth that I can persuade the IT department to switch over to an alternative.

    I guess at the end of the day, lockdown isn't lockdown after all when there isn't a viable alternative.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:17PM (#9537489) Homepage Journal
      ``99% of the sheets I use here involve macros to open many .csv files, process the data in a particular way and then dump it all into pivot tables that are linked to other Excel spreadsheets.''

      That sounds like a database to me. Using Excel as a database is one of the most harmful things there are. It's slow, eats a lot of memory, and I have seen entire databases go to hell because of slight bugs in the macros or the interpreter.
      • But a database requires MUCH more knowledge and effort to set up and administer. Everyone who uses it either has to have an interface designed for them, or has to know SQL and how *not* to screw up the database. What if something has to be modified? Are we going to let just *anyone* add/alter tables?

        And you STILL have the problem of having to pull data from many sources, process it, reformat, etc. So now we need a REAL coder (no insult intended, VBA guys) to write programs in- C#? Java? Even perl or pytho
    • Well Gnumeric for sure has you covered, and OpenOffice has most working. Don't know about this new thing.
    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:59PM (#9537723)
      I'm sorry, but if these data handling functions are business critical, then you need a proper database (sql, basically) combined with proper data in/out.

      The number of cases of huge excel/macro combinations dieing messily, or corrupting the data is legion. I'm no database specialist (network admin myself), but the guy I work with who is, has several stories of companies that regretted relying on access or excel/vb for critical data processing, and one of them nearly went under when they found one of their (many) linked spreadsheets had been corrupted and had been feeding bad data into their conclusions for months.

      Seriously, PLEASE don't rely on a cheap and cheerful desktop products (which is what ms office and openoffice are) to manage your company dataflow. Get a proper system on the backend. Use excel to munge a bit on the front end, do the graphs etc, fine - but put your data-storage and processing into a proper database system. It'll cost you more, but it just ain't worth the risk.
    • What about the Macros?

      From the article:

      "The Windows edition does have a certain amount of programmability through a bring-your-own-language method. By importing PlanMaker's type library into Visual Basic or Borland Delphi, you can program macros and scripts in an interface similar to that of Microsoft Excel. SoftMaker does have a VBA-compatible macro language called BasicMaker, but currently it is only supported in the Windows version of the SoftMaker office suite in the German language. Translation of

  • by eamacnaghten (695001) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:41AM (#9537288) Homepage Journal
    As end office users become more and more savy - which in my experience they are - the importance of OLE type functionality is becoming more and more essential. The ability to embed spreadsheets in word processor files, presentations etc etc is becoming vital, as is the ability for third party apps to insert data into it. I cannot see any mention of this on their site.

    Also - the ability for it to follow the theme of the user's desktop is not yet considered important it is getting there.

    I do not know the product, but I do not see the advantages it gives me ofer the free ones significant, and many of the free ones have advantages over it.

    As far as interplay is concerned, can it talk the OpenOffice formats? These are becoming more and more deployed.

    I'm sorry SoftMaker - you may have a good product, but it has no relevance to me - and I do not seeing it have in the future either.

    • The ability to embed spreadsheets in word processor files, presentations etc etc is becoming vital,

      In my experience of teaching supporting, teaching and using office software, this kind of thing was very fashionable a few years ago, but most experienced users don't do it.

      Why? Because its a memory hog, and it is extremely version and system dependent. Its a very mixed software world, and not everyone runs Office XP. Far more important than embedding applications is the ability to exchange the informati
  • Shameless. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raven42rac (448205) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:41AM (#9537289)
    This is utterly shameless. You can save things in compatibilty mode in excel, so that they can be read by previous versions of the software, most users know this already. How the hell is it OOO's fault if the file is password protected? The chart is from the company that makes the software, not a unbiased third party, I could craft a document that would work better in one program or the other, I have not seem OOO stoop to that level. And another thing, Planmaker costs money $50 USD or Euro. This is an advertisement masked as an article.
    • If it is an advertisement masked as an article, then every review of hardware is an advertisement masked as an article.

      Or is it possible that some people use Linux because they like Unix? I was using BSDi and Coherent before that. I've bought hundreds of dollars worth of commercial Linux software over the years, and been very happy with it.

      Many of the things that people have bitched about being "not available for Linux" have just not been available _free_ for Linux. Over time, there have been FOSS proj

      • I see your point regarding advertising and reviews. One of the links led to a chart that was totally biased toward that company's own product, not very impartial, IMHO. I don't mind paying for Linux software either, Crossover plugin comes to mind, as does Winex. I agree that there is plenty of software available to replace common Windows apps, you just have to pay for them sometimes. Most Linux users recognize the difference between free as in beer, and free as in speech.
  • by dilute (74234) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:46AM (#9537314)
    If you don't have to be absolutely compatible, there are plenty of free (really free) spreadsheets. Gnumeric, being considerably more lightweight that Openoffice, does the trick for me most of the time.

    When nothing other than Excel will do, why not just run Citrix (or some virtual box if you don't have access to a Citrix server) and run real Excel?

    If you seriously need Excel, I doubt this will be a satisfactory long-term solution, for any number of reasons. Plus, it ain't free.

    In sum, who needs another me-too piece of proprietary software?
  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:48AM (#9537324)

    Does anyone maintain a list of features OO doesn't support?

    I know that the only incompatibility I found was when I had a formula that referred to a calculated value in another tab, and then yet another cell that referred to the first formula, I got an error when I opened the file in Excel. When I opened it in Excel, went to the formula and hit enter, it recalculated and got a non-error.

    To example, sheet 1 A1 = 1, sheet 1 A2 = A1 * 2, sheet 2 A1 = sheet 1 A2 * 4, sheet 2 A2 = sheet 2 A1 * 5. In this example, sheet 2 A2 is an error in all versions of Excel I could find, and was good as of all versions of OO I could find last December.

    I always got the OO errors about how data may be lost by saving in the non-native file format, but aside from the above case, I never lost any content.

    • When you save in non-native formats you lose a little formatting and some structure information. It's not that bad, but it can be annoying. It's better to keep the OpenOffice.org file around for later editing, if possible.
  • by meganthom (259885) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:52AM (#9537347)

    Does anyone know if you can make a bulleted list within PlanMaker without too much trouble? Yes, I know that this feature doesn't make much sense, but it's one of the major factors preventing my father from switching to Linux and from regularly using open-source office software. My dad gave up on Open Office in short order.

    It seems that for open-source software, and Linux in particular, to appeal to the business world, the software must make the features business execs regularly use, such as tools for making memos, readily accessible and as similar as possible to the features in MS Office. My father, for example, is eager to try something new, but becomes frustrated when he needs to relearn everything or when he has trouble importing documents and spreadsheets from other programs

    Maybe PlanMaker will convince him to give Linux another chance. I hope so.

  • by OYAHHH (322809) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:52AM (#9537350) Homepage
    Can it open OpenOffice spreadsheets? And how fast can it do it?

    As a person who writes software which can read/write OO files I see a couple reasons why OO sheets may tend to read/write more slowly.

    - The OO files are compressed zip files. Gotta spend a few precious seconds uncompressing them.

    - The files contain very verbose XML which has to be parsed. My guess is that Excel sheets in a lot of cases have far fewer bytes to accomplish the same thing.

    • OpenOffice filters are being worked on, they aren't finished yet, though.
    • Frankly I prefer MS Excel's xml to OOo's OASIS xml. We've got parsers for both in Gnumeric, although neither has seen alot of testing. The oasis format irritated my because it felt like it had been designed by the xml people rather than the spreadsheet people. For example, there is no explicit cell addresses in the content. The structure is implicit in the ordering. This means that people can't easily lookup the content of a specific cell without at least a moderate amount of parsing. It also complete
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:53AM (#9537353)
    First of to all those screaming gnumeric, rtfa!

    Second, I can understand that people want to run a system that is 100% open source. If you want to, do it, but please also stop your whining, that this has not been ported to linux and that has not been ported to linux.

    Softmaker is offering a spreadsheat that seems to be more compatible with Excel then other spreadsheats on linux. I can't possibly see how this is bad.
  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:12PM (#9537449) Homepage
    The review says it has no support for macros.

    What sort of serious spreadsheet user doesn't employ macros?

    And they're selling it for Linux - a platform where most users know how to do a bit of scripting.

    If I were in a Linux shop and had to do power-user type spreadsheet stuff, and this were the only Linux option, it would be enough to motivate me to sneak in a copy of Windows so I could get my job done efficiently.
  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StuartFreeman (624419)
    Considering this software is non-free (in both senses), I am more tempted to ask what makes it better than Excel rather than what makes it better than OO.o
    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by martin-k (99343)
      Speed. Price. Multi-platform support -- there are even versions for Pocket PCs and Handheld PCs, and we are also working on a Zaurus port. [softmaker.com]
  • by Roger Whittaker (134499) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:38PM (#9537611) Homepage
    This (and the company's word processor, textmaker) are included in the boxed version of SUSE 9.1 Professional.
  • It works well for me (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guenhwyvar (637828) <<guenhwyvar> <at> <swm1.com>> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#9537778)
    I have some xls files that contain a several graphs that are generated from thousands of data points.
    • Open Office takes 10 minutes or more to open them.
    • Gnumeric opens them quickly but doesn't draw the graphs correctly.
    • KSpread doesn't draw the graphs.

    However, I just tried the trial version of PlanMaker for LInux and it had no trouble displaying the graphs exactly as they should and was able to open even the largest file in just a few seconds.

    Horay for a viable alternative, even if it is not open source.

  • While it might be nice to have more compatiblity, the days of a single 'standalone' app are long gone in the business world ( the target for this product ).

    Integration is what is reqired, to be able to interact directly with other applactions natively, i.e. a 'suite'.
  • CLI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Faux_Pseudo (141152) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (oduesP.xuaF)> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:32PM (#9537914) Homepage
    Thats great, now they just need to make a command line interface for it. I was doing a project a year ago where we would get ms files and need to convert them. And the only way to do that was to manually launch excel and click click click to make it a CSV file text file. Simple functions like this greatly increase the use of applications because when you have to do 15 or 1500 in a day so that the rest of process which is completely automated can take over because you kill the week link in the chain.

    This isn't a case of CLI is better than GUI. It is a case of CLI is easier to automate.
    excle2csv foo.* | automated && echo Done.
    You just can't do that with a GUI app. There are things that are easier with a GUI. But the basics (Save As file conversion being one of them) that should be available from the command line.
  • I went through the whole key sequence TWICE, but it wouldn't let me into the Hall of Tortured Souls OR the Spy Hunter game!!
  • Excel's power (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MoronGames (632186) <cam.henlin@gmail.GINSBERGcom minus poet> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:35PM (#9537927) Journal
    Over the last couple of weeks, I have been programming with Visual Basic and Excel Spreadsheets for a major corporation (The Visual Basic + Excel part is not by choice). I have really learned about how powerful Excel is.

    I think the main thing Open Source spreadsheet programs need to compete with Excel is something fully compatible with Visual Basic code, as crappy as it might be. Or at least something to migrate from the Visual Basic to some other kind of scripting language with the same functionality.

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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