Update: This story has been updated to clarify when the described bug/feature occurs Seven and a half years after some poor soul first complained it was vaporizing his data, OpenOffice is still plagued by a Calc bug/feature that overwrites fields hidden using the spreadsheet's Autofilter tool. "There are only two things …
An OpenOffice technical contact who has no apparent real-world commercial experience, and on the basis of this routinely ignores people who do and who have the nerve to ask for a fix to unhelpful behaviour? Why this must be the rarest of creatures.
You'll be telling me next that they're saying the real reason MS Office users won't swap is because they're stupid and simply don't understand the software.
This isn't really about cloning software
It's about basic functionality.
Free Windows ?
OK - so let's get this straight !
You want a software suit that is exactly like office (but better) and is absolutely free ?
You also want what ? an OS ? exactly like Windows (but MUCH better) and absolutely free as well ?
Hmmmm - perhaps they could call it Winux ?
So why not...
... just put in a check for if any fields are currently hidden and and will be affected, then, if so, pop up a message "Warning: This action will over-write data in hidden fields, do you wish to proceed? Yes/ No"?
points of view. Not exactly consistent
1. Why do people assume that a programme that looks a bit like MSoffice will behave /exactly/ like MS office in the odder corners? A VW passat, a Peurgeot 407, and a ford mondeo are all jelly-mould 4-door saloons, driven using a wheel and 3 pedals. That doesn't mean you can expect to fit the same pollen filter to all 3 air conditioning units.
2. Why do the OOo developers still ignore issues going back to 2001 to which long strings of duplicates get added?
Go OO - but please read bugzilla now and again.
Why no patch?
Surely it's possible to get a patch out for this.
It is open source, after all, right?
So write and submit a patch.
Paris, on the patch.
Is that hard to fix?
I know, I know, I will take care of that one just after I finish the SSL hack I've been developing in the last three weeks.
Now seriously, is there any estimation of the required effort to fix that annoyance? I'll volunteer with my own developer time or even donate a small amount of money to get it done.
You have the source
Make it do what you want.
Sadly it's only one of the many embarrassing traits of OO.
...to use OOo (in particular Writer) to replace MS Word and hence go 100% Linux for work, but it's just not good enough. Editing Word docs causes tables to change shape, text to disappear, graphics to move and complex formatting to get horribly mangled. Bug reports already exist for many issues and I've raised a couple, but nothing happens. If I were a decent coder, I'd try fixing them, but I'm not.
It's with a heavy heart I've gone back to a VMware Windows XP Pro installation with MS Word.
Sounds like people are being pig headed about it. Just because you've said no in the past doesn't mean you cant change your mind. Hell, here is an idea, implement both ways and let the users decide!!
I don't really care one way or the other, but surely if it bothers some people enough not to use OOO then wouldn't it be worth just putting a checkbox in the preferences and letting the users choose?
Free software, free headaches
I am not surprised by this saga and I accept that Open Office doesn't have to be compatible with anything else and must be taken at its own merits.
I use Open Office exclusively now and have not even bothered to install my MS Office during my last update. As I mostly do small word processing jobs I can live with the bugs and quirks and all my docs have been ODT for about two years. But if I was a commercial user I would go nuts. Just a sample,
1. The screen rendering of all fonts is awful. As an old typeset programmer I am offended by the hintless rasterization and sheer ugliness of it all.
2. Using some large point size (greater than 72pt) fonts for posters and the like, results in garbage being printed. I was forced to use Wordpad on at least two occasions to get a job out and it printed the same data perfectly.
3. Getting up-to-date dictionaries, or heaven forbid, Thesauri for some regions, like Australia, is a saga in itself. Many are available, few work properly.
4. Bugs! Settings disappear, things happen without reason, everything goes slow for a while etc. etc. Not frequent enough to be a show-stopper but annoying at times.
5. You need a PhD in comp science to do the equations. A GUI (I mean a proper one) would be nice but I won't hold my breath. Lucky that MathType works well with OO.
5. The charts are an amateurish joke!
6. etc. etc. etc.
I like the package and I appreciate the effort which has gone into it. I can afford the commercial version but like the idea of OS apps doing something useful besides maintaining each other. But this package wouldn't last a week in the real world. You know, where people pay real money for product. And I have had similar experiences with lots of other OSS, e.g. GIMP, IrfanView, Scilab and others. They are decent at what they do, and getting better all the time, but the commercial versions blow them away.
(Aside: Is there any chance whatsoever that Scilab V5 will once again, in my lifetime, have a working Scitab debugger. You know, the one that was broken when upgrading from V4 and has been blithely ignored ever since. As the French say, “Ce n’est pas terrible. Only a sissy need ze debugger for to developing ze complex scientific software avec graphics and real-time input. Pouf!”)
"Editing Word docs causes tables to change shape, text to disappear, graphics to move and complex formatting to get horribly mangled."
Yes, but OO isn't any better. ;-)
@AC I've tried...
"Editing Word docs causes tables to change shape, text to disappear, graphics to move and complex formatting to get horribly mangled."
Yep, MS Word does that to my documents too...
Oh, you were talking about OO, so it really is compatible? With that reassurance, I'll change... maybe tomorrow.
Is this another YMMV argument?
So the answer from the OO adherents seems to be 'code the fix yourself', while wondering aloud why people still pay for MS Office when OO is so wonderful and free.
If the filtering issue doesn't affect how you typically use a spreadsheet app and/or you value your time differently to other spreadsheet users, by all means use whatever suits you for the lowest price possible. My time spent researching, testing, trying to get the current version of Calc to do what Excel does trivially, surpassed the cost of an MS Office license a long time ago.
If one day the OO devs do decide to fix the issues that affect my particular needs, I might be prepared to invest more time to giving it another shot. Until then, ribbon notwithstanding, you will pry Excel from my cold, dead hands.
This bug is irrelevant. OOo Writer is a good editor and Gnumeric is a good spread sheet. There is no need for OpenOffice Calc.
Microsoft Office is well and accurately named
Write something thought as truly unique and original, and watch what happens as the DRM bits send out the SOS/Mayday Calls.
@Robert E A Harvey
Robert, you hit the nail on the head.
I can't believe that IT people knowing what they know, still want to compare these apps and argue about which is better.
Both MS Office (all versions) and Open Office (all versions) have their perculiarities and flaws, er - features and bugs.
As pointed out, Open Office is open source and the brighter ones wishing to be free, can configure it how they like. But this still leaves end users like myself, with the task of reading the manual in order to un-configure various features, that are really automation f*ckups, which cause major headaches until you have the hang of it and decide to get with the program.
As an end user, I just want a simple office system that works as it says on the tin. If I need to get complicated there should be bolt on features that do a particular job or series of related jobs. Isn't that what OO prorgamming is supposed to achieve ?
So why, after all these years of failing, bloated, office software, are the developers still changing things every five minutes and in the process, appear to be either breaking stuff that worked or removing "it" so you have to buy "it" as a special add on next revision time ?
Save us from ourselves, please !
We ain't goin' nowhere fast.
Did anyone read the article?
There are at least half a dozen comments above along the lines of "Why are OO devs being so lazy/pig-headed and refusing the fix the bug?".
Read the fecking article will you? It isn't a bug. It is meant to work that way. You may or may not agree with how it works but that's an entirely different matter. If the software is designed to work one way and that is how it works then it doesn't need fixing!
The spec might need changing but then you've (potentially) got a lot of people who ARE expecting their hidden data to be removed who are going to be really pissed off. I must admit, it's annoyed my both ways, depending on my mindset at the time. Sometimes I'm expecting it to remove everything and that's great. Other times it's caught me out. Same goes for Excel.
But please read the damn article before mouthing off about how stupid/lazy/inferior-to-you other people are.
"There will never be any clone of your favourite software"
Damn right, I've been waiting years for IIS to catch up with httpd.
There is no right
I can see why it happens - yes, it is working to spec.
But I can also see why it upsets people - no, it's not doing what they expect.
Why not pop up a warning window in these circumstances, stating 'There are cells currently hidden by a filter that will be overwritten by this paste command'? OK/Cancel, or even give them the choice of overwriting the hidden cells or only pasting in visible cells.
C'mon, it's not that complicated... OOo is getting bogged down by beaurocracy, usability is suffering.
A few years back, I tried OO on 250 documents
They were submitted by students for assessment, so most were MS Offic or Open Office, a few were from Macs - but a real-world mix. OO wouldn't open 9 of them. Admitted MS Office wouldn't open 3 of those (it's a rare 10,000 word essay which fits in a 4KB file) but it worked out that I couldn't read about 4% of the files I needed to read. If I ran a business, that might mean not being able to read 4% of contracts or tenders. Compared to losing a contract, paying for MS Office seems a minor expense.
GIMP seems OK, Inkscape (tried for the first time so far) fell over (losing all work done so far) within half an hour. I've wasted many days looking at OpenSource libraries for writing ID3 tags into mp3 files. Many claim they can write the more complex forms - but I've yet to find one which actually does.
I've never bothered with *nix, but I have a friend who is a great fan. He spends so much time trying to find working drivers, or rebuilding kernels that if he spent the same time working minumum wage in a burger bar, he could have bought everything retail...
OpenSource is a wonderful idea - but in the real world it doesn't yet live up to expectations.
Not a bug?
OK then, I wish to lodge this change request wot I have here. "Dinnae wipe hidden data yah bunch o' fannies".
Community vote for? [Lots of ayes]
Community vote against? [Tumbleweed]
Huzzah! Now I am sure if all the people who want this CR stumped up $5 each they could pay for a professional coder to sort it out and submit the patch (I assume none of them have the skill to do so, which is highly likely). Yes peoples; opensource != free.
The OOo developers can then be told to go and spin on it - the customer is *ALWAYS* right.
And while they're at that, could the sort out the sheer uglinees of OOo rendering and the fact it randomly smegs up all your careful formatting? I want to like OOo, I really do; but it is still only one quarter baked. Luckily for me, I do not rely on it.
Wishing to be free?
"Open Office is open source and the brighter ones wishing to be free, can configure it how they like."
So, because you decide to obtain an open source product instead of using MS Word 2003 or Excel, that makes you brighter than the rest does it?
It's that elitism and "I use this because I'm smarter than you" attitude that makes me want Open Office to fail miserably now. I feel like submitting a patch - adding even more bugs.
Developer and end-user disagree
This is a typical situation of 'developer and end-user disagree'...
The developer doesn't see this as a bug, but as a feature request and has rejected the feature request.
The developer says this is specced, because it is probably in their specs.
And yes, it may be annoying, but an annoying feature does not mean it is a bug.
It's your own fault
If you will rely on a reverse-engineered copy of Office 97, that's what you'll have to put up with.
What a strange "feature".
I can understand that his is a feature and the product works to spec, however, why would you want it to do that?
Imagine I want to delete a range of cells in a column or fill some of them with some copied data:
In Excel, I make sure that there isn't a filter applied and go ahead.
In Calc, I delete, paste, or whatever == a little less work.
OK, now Imagine I want only to copy data down into, or delete from, the cells that have been filtered:
In Excel I make sure that the data is filtered as I want and delete, paste, or whatever.
In Calc I? Cry? Do it manually? Decide it's shit and use something else?
Seriously, why would you want it to behave that way? I use Linux exclusively on my home machines and I always use Firefox and GIMP no matter which OS I'm forced to use -- but I wouldn't want to use a spreadsheet that's deliberately hard to use.
I work in the multi-channel publishing business and I can tell you from first-hand experience that discrepancies that arise between MSOffice products and OO0, especially those in their XML-based files (.docx, .xlsx, etc) are usually because MSOffice is more fault tolerant than OOo. Whether this is good or bad is up for debate. Personally, I think that working around bugs you have introduced on the first place is EXTREMELY bad practice. A simple example would be MSWord disregarding its own Schema rules when you decide get creative with the layout. OOo Writer then has to try and make sense of something that is not defined in the .docx XSD, and therefore cannot address satisfactorily because it would mean having to deviate from the "standard" yourself.
I couldn't see the video
But I decided to try to recreate what was described using Excel 2003.
I wrote 1, 2, 3 in columns B, C and D
Then I wrote 4, 5, 6 in columns E, F and G.
I hid column C and copied the data in EF&G.
Then I pasted it into column B.
Surprise surprise - it oeverwrote BC&D.
Is that the same functionality that people are upset about in OOo? Why get your knickers in a knot about overwriting hidden rows and columkns when Excel does exactly the same..?
OO isn't worth what you pay for it
Reasons like this, are why people like me still willingly pay for (and use) Microsoft Office.
At the end of the day, the software is there to help you get the job done. If it is interfering with your job, then instead of being an asset, it is a liabilty. Add up the working hours spent wrestling with OpenOffice, and it does not take the biggest business case to justify spending a few hundred euros on a copy of Microsoft Office.
The many freetards who I see online, who keep saying "OO is good enough - now switch to Linux!", obviously do not value their own time, or the time of others.
This is something of a general issue with Open Source/Free software. Users are simply regarded as 2nd class citizens while those who actually spend time writing the apps are 1st class citizens with the right to decide what gets prioritised or even ignored. If you think about it, it's not hard to see why this is and up to a point it's fair enough to say "you want it fixed, you can spend your time fixing it". I see this all the time - the GIMP and GTK mailing lists are particularly full of this attitude; in the latter case it crosses the line and becomes outright hostility to alternative views about what should be supported.
But the truth is that some of these progams are so complex (and some so badly written) that the time it takes just to work out which file contains the code that you want to change is prohibitive for the user-cum-fixer, let alone actually getting a working patch and then getting that patch accepted by developers who are not used to dealing with people who think there's something wrong with their pet project.
The solution is better documentation of source code which would allow more developers to join in with less disruption to those who are more deeply concerned with the longer-term goals of a project, but documentation in Free software is about as good as it is in the private sector - ie, terrible.
@ the BigYin
"The OOo developers can then be told to go and spin on it - the customer is *ALWAYS* right."
that may be correct, as a developer myself i disagree the customer is generally in a fantasy world, but you have to remember that you are not the customer! You are a single user, the customer is all open office users, and that's who the software was specced for.
The actual customer will probably be a group chosen to represent a few average users and supply the requirements of those users, if you disagree with those requirements, well you have to submit changes for evaluation just like everybody else. if it gets turned down after evaluation, then you might have to accept that there is a reason for it working that way
It's the economy stupid
MS Office accounts for 40% of Microsoft's revenue. Compare the billions M$ reaps from its stranglehold on office software with the puny millions Sun and Novell have been able to allocate to Star Office. Like or not, OpenOffice is a very complex, versatile and admittedly somewhat bloated software suite that has conistsently opened all the Word, Excel and PowerPoint docs friends and customers have sent me. To correct outstanding "bugs" would require millions more. We need not just compeition, but also awareness that the future is open-source and fewer and fewer will double the price tag on their shiny new laptop just to have the filtering component of their spreadsheet app behave just like Excel 2003.
If the Public Sector gave the OpenOffice development team just 10% of what they spend on MS Office licences, within a year, we'd have a leaner, faster, more responsive OpenOffice suite and could start fixing outstanding bugs. Besides word processors and spreadsheets should be integrated in the OS preinstalled on your machine. No to the MS licence fee!!!
Seven and a half years...
[Red herring] This reminds me of the old musical "The Pajama Game" ('seven and a half cents' in wage negotiations) [/Red herring]
Yes, I would suggest that this will go on a lot longer than 7.5 years. The complainants (parties of the first part) are attempting to redefine the concept of a bug to be "something that happens unexpectedly and not according to my/our intentions."
The logic of the current OOo behaviour is as follows:
a) column is populated with data
b) column is filtered to <DISPLAY> only some of the data
c) modifying data across the range affected by the filter also modifies unseen data (ie. data hidden by the operation of the filter)
It is perfectly logical, even though it may not be as the user intended.
Bridge --> Build --> Traverse please
Common sense needed on both sides here
Hiding content is just a layout thing. I can see no logical reason to expect that it protects the hidden content as well or otherwise changes the behavior of a Paste. As others have suggested, adding a warning when users try to paste over hidden content is a very good idea (and a very obvious one that should be implemented right away) but hacking the application so that it doesn't do what the specs mandate or what many users would expect would be a really stupid thing to do.
To the guy who says "The customer is always right", I have to ask, "What do you do when the customers disagree with each other over the desired behavior or suggest things that simply do not make sense?"
I actually have to use and admin an app where the customer was always right. It stinks! The system is full of useless and confusing facilities that were put in for various specific customers and make no sense to anybody else. Even half the stuff that was put in for our company is now irrelevant and does us more harm than good. The authors of the software were completely unable to filter requirements and generalise them to something that made sense for all users. Instead they agreed to add any old nonsense and made their app an unusable, unmaintainable, unsupportable mess. Compared to that, OpenOffice is a dream.
Just use Google Docs..
Does a lot of what OO does, I hardly ever have problems with it and can access it anywhere..
Clone V's Compatible
Just becasue OpenOffice started as an alternative to MS Office, doesn't mean that one should necessarily view it as a clone. It's a case of trying to be compatible, opening existing files and allowing you to work with them. And yes there are differences between the two and sometimes formatting gets stuffed along the way.
It makes me smile that people say that OOo messed up the tables of an MS Word Doc. - How about if you started the Doc in OpenOffice and then save it as Word - Opening it in Word breaks the formatting that was OK until them. So the formatting inconsistencies can be claimed from either side.
I've used both sides extensively over the last couple of years - I have to admit that I HATE the MS Office ribbon - I can never find anything quickly and easily when I need to do a task that is even mildly complex. I find the OpenOffice interface more intuitive. If you follow the cloning argument to it's conclusion and OpenOffice was to introduce a ribbon, I'd be the one grabbing my coat and looking for an alternative.
The point: Compatibility is what should be delivered - and that does not mandate cloning.
The video is not showing copy and paste that's a drag fill.
In excel 2003 If you actually do a copy of multiple cells and paste with autofilter on you can overwrite hidden cells, not that I would be doing that sort of thing.
I'd of sorted the data and done it that way or be using a database
For the records, since I've been quoted
Well, I'm the user who wrote about "angry chimps" in a OOo user forum referring to the unbelievable rants in the OpenOffice.org issue tracker.
Indeed, it is my oppinion that OOo has a huge audience, some active supporters, but only a tiny group of supporting developers who can actually change things for the better.
Actually the bug has been fixed a long time ago as far as copy&paste is concerned.
Contrary to other comments, I don't think, this is just a question of a "simple patch" if you consider the full functionality of spreadsheet cells being dragged around with and without modifier keys.
For the drag&drop aspect of the problem, I offered a macro, which (of course) can not be good enough.
And yes, I believe that someone is fighting his personal troll-crusade here, taking the behaviour of one particular application as a "standard". Or is there any other spreadsheet application doing the trick like Excel does?
Again: Technically speaking, the wrong behaviour is not a "bug". This is of importance in any issue tracker for any software project. The existing code does the job it has been written for.
Why linux isn't taken seriously in the office...
I've been an exclusive linux user for years. It's fine and good for the Stallman sycophants with no actual responsibilities to go on about non-free formats and whatnot, but back in the real world, I have to deal with Word documents. For, y'know, my job. So I can do silly and inconsequential things like eat.
Unfortunately, no matter how good your OS is, if you still need to get work done at the end of the day, things like "how well does your office suite deal with Microsoft Office stuff?" matter, whether the zealots like it or not. OpenOffice's various irritations and bugs are the biggest, most constant argument that tells me, on a daily basis, that I should give up and buy a Mac. This saddens me.
Not that I haven't submitted bug reports and even voted on them - it just becomes clear that the devs don't care. Just like the Microsoft response "shut up and deal with it" to complaints about the execrable "ribbon" they inflicted on their users. Apparently, once any project reaches a certain mass, the developers turn into an isolated, intellectually-inbred groupthink homonculous, and that's applicable to open-source projects as well.
Any application which deletes hidden data without a warning is broken.
How compatible is MS Office with itself?
People seem to judge OpenOffice by its compatibility with MS Office. I can see why but it does seem unfair that for OpenOffice every match is an away game with a hostile crowd. What also seems unfair, and rather less understandable, is that we don't hear too much from people complaining about the not quite perfect compatibility between various versions of MS Office on Windows and MacOS. Tables slightly misformatted? Macro issues? Surely not? That only happens with stinky, herring flavoured, open source rubbish, doesn't it? And don't get me started on the interoperability problems once some loser running a bundled copy of MS Works gets into the loop! Give me a .doc written in OpenOffice before you threaten me with a stupid .wps file any day. As for OpenOffice, at least it is compiled form the same source on all three platforms so its behaviour on Windows, MacOS and X11 is pretty consistent with itself. How long before MS Office can claim that?
@ Robert Long 1
That, I think, is a very good point, but I'd go one further: Any application that modifies any of your data in any way without being explicitly instructed to do so or without advising you of that fact is broken. I'd be okay with the app's behaviour merely being documented in a sane, clear, and readily apparent way, but open source projects' documentation always seems inexplicably poor to me.
"Not that I haven't submitted bug reports and even voted on them - it just becomes clear that the devs don't care. Just like the Microsoft response "shut up and deal with it" to complaints about the execrable "ribbon" they inflicted on their users. "
Did you ever consider that it might just be a case of not everyone agreeing with your point of view? I believe MS published the results of user studies into the ribbon interface and those who didn't like it amounted to about 4.5%.
Sorry to disappoint your obvious sense of self-importance but, far from sticking our heads in the sand, us developers do listen and we tend to act on what the majority of users want, not just what you want.
@Robert E A Harvey
"A VW passat, a Peurgeot 407, and a ford mondeo are all jelly-mould 4-door saloons, driven using a wheel and 3 pedals. That doesn't mean you can expect to fit the same pollen filter to all 3 air conditioning units."
But arguably one could assume that when I signal for a left turn, it doesn't stop the wheel from going back to the right afterward. Or empty the fuel tank when I shut it off.
And frankly why in the hell can't similarly sized cars use the same size air filter? Who's big idea was it to make them all different to begin with?
Can someone *PLEASE* explain to me the hatred for the ribbon bar? It is one of the *BEST* designs to come from Microsoft. Before, hit File, drop down menu - and see another drop down arrow to get to the additional choices. You can change some setting somewhere to always have all items displayed, but what a pain. With the ribbon bar, all features are accessible rather quickly as you go from one ribbon bar to another. YES, you DO have to learn where the items are located, but once you actually use it for awhile, it becomes second nature. Custom ribbon bars are EASY to create and use XML. I find it odd that "IT folks" are against change.....
Instead of complaining, what has MS done right?
Windows Server 2003 R2 and 2008/2008 R2
Silverlight 3.0 (wow, 64 bit support, who would have thunk??? Adobe - get a clue)
Still have issued with Project 2007, OCS 2007 R2, and more, but they do have some decent products.
NOTE: I run Solaris x8, Many Linux distros, Windows, etc. and have programmed on pretty much every platform. I am platform agnostic and EVERY O/S, application, etc has BOTH good and bad. Once you add a GUI, Linux is no longer as stable as a server....
" Get real # By Robert Long 1 Posted Friday 17th July 2009 14:13 GMT
Boffin Any application which deletes hidden data without a warning is broken. "
Any application which deletes hidden data without warning is a VIRUS!!!
Paris understands viruses .
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