Calc Spreadsheet

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-10-02 Print this article Print


Calc Spreadsheet

In addition to the formula com??ípatibility enhancements made pos??ísible by the new ODF 1.2 format, 3's spreadsheet application, Calc, packs a hand??íful of useful new features aimed at bringing the application more closely in line with Microsoft Excel's feature set.

One such new feature is the Solver, a tool for analyzing multivariable solu??ítions that's been available for a while in Excel as a standard add-in. I located a sample spread??ísheet configured for use with Excel's solver, and ana??ílyzed the data using both Excel 2007 and OpenOf??í 3. With the excep??ítion of a difference in the way the two applications defined non-contiguous fields in their respective solver tools (Excel used commas between field labels, and allowed me to control-click on non-con??ítiguous variable cells, while Calc used semicolons and made me type them in), both solver tools performed the same.

The version of 2.4 that ships with Ubuntu and other Linux distributions already includes a solver tool, but licensing issues have kept it out of Sun's official build. I tried the same test with this earlier solver version and couldn't get the tool to work with non-contiguous cells.

Also on the feature parity and file compatibility front, the version of Calc that comes with 3.0 now supports custom error bars in charts, and a boost in the number of columns a sheet can hold from 256 to 1,024. To compare, Microsoft raised its column limit in Excel 2007 from 256 to 16,384.

Calc also now includes a spread??ísheet collaboration feature that enables multiple users to work together on spreadsheet documents.

Other Applications

Beyond its PDF import functional??íity, 3's presentation application, Impress, includes a cou??íple of promising new enhancements, chief of which is support for embed??íded tables in Impress documents. Previously, the only way to embed tables in Impress was to paste in a spreadsheet object from Calc.

Impress also sports a polished pic??íture-cropping tool, which abides by the typical, corner-dragging interface metaphor that you would expect to see in an image-editing application.

The 3 word processor application, Writer, now comes with a much-improved document-annotation feature, which places inserted notes in the margin of a document, with a line that traces back to the annotated por??ítion of your document. What's more, notes from different editors appear in different colors.

In previous versions of, inserted notes appeared as tiny yel??ílow boxes in the document that you had to click on to read. As implemented, the feature was practically worthless, and it complicated collaborative editing with those taking advantage of Word's much-better-implemented notes feature.

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

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