Archive for July, 2009

OpenOffice loses this round

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I use spreadsheets every now and then for pretty trivial things.  Recently I’ve been using google docs spreadsheets because they were online and editable from different locations easily.  A few days ago I tried to use OpenOffice for a fairly simple sheet.  I’ve used OpenOffice on and off for years and years without ever becoming a power user.  After 30 minuets of trying to work with my very simple data, I realized I’d spent 28 minutes trying to figure out how to do basic operations that I took for granted in google spreadsheets. So here are the first few things I tried to do that were not as simple as they need to be:

1) Create a header row.

In OpenOffice, this is a “Window” option, and you find it under “Window -> Freeze”.  In google, I don’t even remember doing it, I think it just happened automatically somehow. (Addition: Even after using Window->Freeze, when sorting you still have to check the hidden box “Range contains column headers”)

2) sort rows by the value in a chosen column.

In google docs, when you hover over a column header, you get a pull down arrow that lets you choose A-Z or Z-A. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.  In OpenOffice, there is a prominent A-Z icon in the toolbar which does something stupid. (Sort the selected column regardless of other data).  The sort rows feature is under “Data -> Sort” and brings up a popup to configure the sort.  More than I needed.

3) reorder columns

In google docs I just drag a column left or right where I want it.  In OpenOffice the only way I found was to copy the data out of column, add a new column, and paste the data into the new column.

It would seem that spreadsheets are for manipulating tables of data, and it seems that there are many more small tables in the universe than large tables.  So why not optimize for quick and simple operations that casual users do all the time?

I guess I’ll stick with google docs for now.