Excel vs

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2004-04-26 Print this article Print

. Calc"> Excel vs. Calc

eVAL testers were split between those who use spreadsheets very little or for fairly simple tasks and those who are accustomed to using Excel 97/2000 as an analysis tool.

The latter group includes some of FN Manufacturing's finance and engineering personnel. They leverage Excel's statistics capabilities, among others, and appreciated the improvements made to the Pivot Table feature in Excel 2003. OpenOffice.orgs Calc offers a similar feature, called DataPilot, but testers had trouble locating it because of the differences in the way Calc and Excel are organized.

Our advanced testers also were interested in Excel's Watch Window feature, something Microsoft added to the application in Office XP. A Watch Window is a separate, small window that remains "on top" and enables users to monitor a selected set of cells. Calc does not have a similar feature, but this wouldn't likely be a deal breaker for FN Manufacturing users because the versions of Excel they currently use dont offer this functionality.

Among the more casual spreadsheet testers, the differences between the spreadsheet applications were less jarring. Romuald Dufour, an IT manager at Fabrique Nationale, said of Excel 2003: "There was not much difference between Office 2000, OpenOffice.org and Office 2003 for my use."

Melinda Vause, who works in finance at FN Manufacturing, said Calc felt "similar to Excel, and it would be easy to learn the slight differences."

Most of the Excel spreadsheets we used during testing were not heavily formatted, but we did experience compatibility issues between Excel and Calc. For the most part, these problems related to charts.

OpenOffice.org tester Vause noted that "graph names were converted to row numbers in some cases, and some formatting was dropped."

The severity of these issues differed from document to document, and the significance differed from tester to tester.

FN Manufacturing bookkeeper Suzan Widener reported that the Excel-formatted spreadsheet she used during the eVal was compatible with Calc. However, Joan Curfman, who tested Office 2003 during the eVal but who had been part of an earlier OpenOffice.org test group, estimated it would take weeks to convert FN Manufacturing spreadsheets from Office 97 and 2000 to OpenOffice.org.

Next page: PowerPoint vs. Impress

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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