I was really tempted to make this post a couple days ago, when I really had to get my feet wet with OpenOffice. Used to be, I had MS Office XP on my computer, and OpenOffice was like the "backup". Well, I've decided to make a clean break from MS Office. I almost reinstalled it for my experience with Word and Excel, but I made it work, all the while wanting to say some very unkind words to the developers. But, I cooled off, and would still like to raise some issues I had, in a more civilized manner:
Calc - Borders are a real pain to work with. in Excel, I feel like I have total control over the borders. In Calc, for example, I cannot apply two thicknesses of lines to a cell or set of cells; this is trivial in Excel. If I want to do that, I must set the borders for one thickness, hit OK, go back in, and set the borders for the next thickness.
On top of this, Calc makes certain unnecessary assumptions about what I want to do. I highlight the cells in my A column, and attempt to put a thick border on the left. But I can't just put the border on the left, it draws a T, rotated counter-clockwise 90 degrees, and if I hit OK, it draws the thick border on the left, and between the cells. I don't want this. What I ended up having to do was, I inserted a column before A (making A, B) and highlighted the appropriate cells in the new Column A. For some reason it let me apply just the right side, not the horizontal lines.
I suppose Calc is good for calculations, but what I really love about Excel 2002 is the ability to create really sharp forms, and reliable bordering is required to do this. You have to be able to have a design in mind and apply it without the software second-guessing you.
Write - No apparent way to make a Landscape document? I searched and searched, but couldn't find it. Is there really no way? I ended up using Impress to make my cover sheet. I found the WordArt function (what it's called, I can't recall) but not the method of changing the text. I realized you just type it, as it appears over the WordArt if you click the right way.
Sounds simple now, but I was ready to throw something or hit someone Friday night.
What I did was, I took my database of Rock Band songs (we have 394 currently) from MyRockBandSongs.com and imported it into Calc to make a better booklet than the site offers. They use the PlayStation 3 difficulty levels, which are different from the Xbox 360 ones; for some reason PlayStation uses a 0-6 scale, while Xbox uses 1-7. So for the individual instrument ratings, I just made a column beside each, did something like =k+1, and dragged it down, then hid the original column. (But, is there a way to convert the result of the equation to plain text, so I can delete the original column?) The whole-band difficulty was not so easy, as it was graphics, that did not line up with the rows. That was a chore. As for Write/Impress, I wanted a fancy cover sheet.
Anyway, Microsoft's argument that Office costs less than OpenOffice because you have to re-train your people to use it is now clearer to me; it's not just something they're saying because they want you to pay for their product instead of using OpenOffice for free. MS Office is smart, and intuitive. However, I'm sticking with OpenOffice - despite Microsoft being right, OpenOffice is an open source project currently in development. MS Office XP is no longer in development, and I'm not paying for a new one, only to have it outdated a year later by a more expensive version. Besides, if I want to jump to Linux -- and I do, eventually -- I can't be tied to something that's only for Windows.
So, I know this sounds like a long rant -- and, it kind of is -- but are the features in question still being worked on, or did I do something wrong perhaps?
I'm still using 3.0.1 at home, and I'm pretty sure PortableApps.com has 3.1 up, with 3.1.1 on the way, so I will certainly upgrade before I tackle another project.
And keeping that spreadsheet database up to date will be trivial compared to the effort required to get it started. Now when we buy songs for the game, I'll just enter them manually, as well as update the site separately.
Oh yeah, one last question: I have two files, the spreadsheet and the cover sheet. Is there any way to get them in one file? Whether it's an OpenOffice-editable file (unlikely) or a PDF I can link to on my blog? If not, I'll just post the database, but the cover sheet is nice. I suppose I can take a screenshot of it and put it above the spreadsheet; is that my best bet?
Sorry for the long post.