Ask the Expert

Open source spreadsheet alternatives

I don't really like Gnumeric as much as OpenOffice Calc, but because the Gnumeric Web site stipulates: "100% of the worksheet functions in MS Excel (tm)," I have sent an email to them in hopes that someone will get back with me and help me understand how to do one of the Excel formulas successfully in Gnumeric.

It is true that I can load my Excel spreadsheets into Calc or Gnumeric with ease. However, upon doing so, formulas other than simple adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, become non functional. I will have to rewrite these other formulas and check their results.

Can you explain why this is happening? Can you offer another spreadsheet alternative? I want to take advantage of open source offerings but most of my office uses Excel.

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I'm not very familiar with Gnumeric, so I can't comment on that. I also haven't experienced problems putting functions from Calc into Excel (just tested with IF and it worked correctly, for instance) but I haven't of used all of the functions. One thought would be to make sure that you save as Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP, rather than another version of Excel. I also saved the Calc file in Text CSV format, then opened it in Excel and the function carried over correctly that way.

You might try the following resources to get more information about specific functions.

  • The mailing list: users@getopenoffice.org
  • The archives of that mailing list: http://www.openoffice.org/servlets/SearchList?listName=users
  • The web site: www.openofficetips.com, which focuses on Calc

There is the option of Google spreadsheets; they're slow currently, but if the online availability is a benefit then you might consider that.

This was first published in November 2006

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