Having explored the capability and also limitations of Google Spreadsheets I have started evaluating the spreadsheet element of Open-Office and I am pleasantly surprised. If you recognise that Excel 2007 is not a great piece of software for the delivery of professional financial modelling services but think that Google spreadsheet isn’t quite what you need then Open-Office spreadsheet could well be your solution.
The screenshot below shows that at a high level it looks very similar in layout and presentation to Microsoft Excel and this blog entry provides a quick glimpse as the Navigator resource evaluation team commence testing.
What does OpenOffice do that Google doesn’t (yet) ?
Open-Office delivers a suite of office productivity tools, of which the spreadsheet application is one. It looks and behaves in a very similar way to Microsoft Excel and has the following benefits over Google:
- Columns go out to AMJ (that’s 256 years on a quarterly basis….)
- It looks much more like Excel so easier to transition to
- Data is stored locally not centrally
- It has a Macro functionality that looks very similar to Visual Basic
- It is quicker to use, no web delays
How does OpenOffice compare to Excel?
It appears to have a huge portion of the functionality that Excel has, lets look at the similarities keeping in mind the weaknesses of Google.
- The same menu structures and therefore keyboard shortcuts
- In built routines such as Goal Seek and Solver are very similar
- It allows Styles to be used
- It has a neat ‘navigator’ feature which allows different objects to be found readily
- Graphing and data presentation are very similar
- Technically its Open Source so developments and debugging is exponentially quicker than a large corporation
Open Office could be used from tomorrow onwards to replace Excel. It is clearly designed to offer a very smooth transition for Excel users and captures the vast majority of what Microsoft Excel does really well and has focused on preserving that core functionality. Depending on how techy you are will no doubt affect your views on this platform as a new spread-sheeting tool, clearly whenever there is a choice different camps form, this can be seen here but on the whole I am very impressed and think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Some education of the market would be needed with many organisations not able to run an Open-Office application due to policy, however, I propose this is a solid alternative to Excel that can be downloaded, installed and used effectively within four and a half minutes! I know because thats what I did!