More Work Remains
Finally, more work remains for OpenOffice.org's password-protected document support-while I could open documents saved in Microsoft's OOXML formats, I could not create password-protected documents in the new formats. For instance, when I opened a password-protected .xlsx document using the suite's Calc application, the spreadsheet opened in a read-only mode. I create a second copy of the document by clicking an "edit file" toolbar button, but the password protection check box in the app's file dialog was grayed out. I could, however, save password-protected files when using Office's older, binary formats. Elsewhere on the file format compatibility front, version 3.2 of OpenOffice.org adds support for OLE objects, form controls and Pivot Tables embedded in Excel spreadsheet documents. I opened an Excel spreadsheet with an embedded Pivot Chart in both OpenOffice.org 3.1 and 3.2-in the earlier version, the embedded bar chart appeared, but without any bars, numbers or labels. With version 3.2 of Calc, the chart information came across intelligibly.Beyond the file format improvements I noted above, one of the few places where the 3.2 update touches the suite's word processor component, Writer, involves the removal of a feature: The project has migrated Writer's support for exporting documents in MediaWiki markup format out of the core of application and into an OpenOffice.org extension. Extensions for OpenOffice.org work a lot like Firefox extensions-they're developed separately from the central OpenOffice.org project, but once installed, they can integrate well into the suite's component applications. With the Wiki Publisher extension installed, for instance, the MediaWiki export option in version 3.2's file dialog looked and worked just the same as that in version 3.1. Another extension added to the OpenOffice.org library since I last reviewed the suite is a MySQL Connector, which provides a native MySQL driver and an easy way to configure MySQL databases for use across the suite. Without the driver, setting up a link to a MySQL database takes a lot of steps, and the process is different on each of the operating systems that support OpenOffice.org. With the extension installed, MySQL appears among the options in the "connect to existing database" drop-down menu in the database creation wizard of the suite's database component, Base. Rather than direct the wizard to a previously configured ODBC or JDBC data source, as was previously required, I was able to opt for a direct connection and key in my database name and IP information or socket as I would in a typical SQL browser application. I was able to shuttle the Base database file I created while setting up the connection between machines running OpenOffice.org with the connector extension, register the database file with that instance of the suite, and have all the tables and views in my MySQL database available for analysis from Calc. I was also able to save my SQL queries within the Base file or create new ones using the application. eWEEK Labs Managing Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the other spreadsheet enhancements included in OpenOffice.org is support for copy and paste of non-contiguous cell ranges, which is a feature gap that's annoyed me while using previous versions of the suite. For instance, in version 3.1, it's possible to highlight a series of non-contiguous rows, but it's not possible to copy those rows into another sheet. In OpenOffice.org 3.2, this feature now behaves as I'd expect: I was able to select a series of arbitrary rows, copy them to my clipboard, and paste them in a new sheet, where Calc consolidated the rows into a single range.