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Thread: Why Excel is not a stardard format

  1. #1
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    Default Why Excel is not a stardard format

    Hi gang

    This is about the boss. He wants a couple of branches to deliver some address data periodically as an Excel file. His argument is that the Excel format is the most widely available de facto standard and thus would reduce costs for the branches.

    For me it's just a big PITA (LAMP here based on openSuSE-11.1). Can you give me some good arguments why Excel is not a standard format and is not well suited to pass data from one organization to another?

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    It's not fully documented because it's proprietary. You don't want your server app breaking because somebody at the sending end used some proprietary feature. Tell him that this might happen at the most inopportune time, e.g. Friday afternoon.

    If he wants to pass spreadsheets, use CSV. It's a text format, well-specified, supported by spreadsheet programs and there are libraries to parse it for many languages.

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    I agree with ken_yap.
    Another reason to use csv is that you can import csv data not only into spreadsheets, but also into just about any database as well and address info, suggest a database somwhere, even if it's only in a contact manager or email program.

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    While I support that csv is the (much) better solution, I know that bosses may not be that intelligent. Maybe the fact that OpenOffice can export as xls helps you. My OpenOffice even offers three (!) different xls formats (so far for it being a standard, ask your boss which one of those 'standards' he wants).
    Henk van Velden

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    Quote Originally Posted by hcvv View Post
    While I support that csv is the (much) better solution, I know that bosses may not be that intelligent. Maybe the fact that OpenOffice can export as xls helps you. My OpenOffice even offers three (!) different xls formats (so far for it being a standard, ask your boss which one of those 'standards' he wants).
    And the new version of M$ Office/Excel will probably have a new and different format for .xls again and yet another Excel 'standard format' will arrive on the scene.
    This will probably also create problems for older windows excel users as well.
    If the boss is intent on using excel format, tell him to use win2000 version since this is probably better supported.

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    I really hate OpenOffice and Excel and all similar applications because they can't be used from bash scripts. There is no way to automate things when using those apps to generate a certain format.

    My data is kept within a MySQL database. I could live with CSV for data exchange, because I can easily generate a CSV-file with a neat and sexy bash/sed script. But the spongeheads at the other end of the pipeline will convert everything again to stuff it into some M$ database. Crazy world.

    Another argument I was thinking of: Excel is not a standard, because the format may/will change with every new release coming out. If one of the branches updates its Excel there is no guarantee that center will still be able to use the files sent.

    Anyone knows how many different Excel formats there are already in use?

    I'm a little bit short of arguments because I'm not familiar with windows. The last time I used it was when it was called "Windows for Workgroups".

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    I also like to ask for CSV because I can then write all sorts of shell scripts to manipulate them. The others are always amazed that they can send me a 10^6 lines where a huge percentage contains a certain error and that I send them a corrected CSV in a nick of time. They can not understand that i did NOT clicked and typed all those fields
    Henk van Velden

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    > Can you give me some good arguments

    will you actually risk your job to win this disagreement with your
    *boss*??

    my advice: do the work in OO and then "save as" an excel doc..

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    platinum

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    Note that because you are asked to parse XLS, it's a harder task. For instance, XLS supports multi-sheet spreadsheets. In OO, it only exports to CSV the current one. So what happens if your user sends you a multi-sheet file? Can you be sure that your parser (which at best would be some kind of converter using OO called through UNO) can handle everything the users might throw at it? Besides that uncertainty, factor in more development time.

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    Default Re: Why Excel is not a stardard format

    On Tue, 08 Sep 2009 10:26:01 +0000, vodoo wrote:

    > I really hate OpenOffice and Excel and all similar applications because
    > they can't be used from bash scripts. There is no way to automate things
    > when using those apps to generate a certain format.


    There's a really good series of articles in Linux Format about how to do
    this sort of thing with OpenOffice. I don't recall offhand if they cover
    spreadsheets, but ODS spreadsheets are basically zipped files that can be
    parsed with a script.

    Jim



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    Jim Henderson
    openSUSE Forums Moderator

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