Open Office

Open Office excels where Excel doesn’t

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I don't use Excel except as a crude database for names. Macros and the like are a mystery to me; simple formulas are as good as I get. Today I installed the excellent Connections plugin on a new website I'm building for Ryde Business Forum. It's going to be the member directory. As well as using the free plugin I bought an add-on which allows me to upload a .csv file of names, addresses and the like into the database. How hard can it be? Even I can create a .csv from Excel. But that's where it all started to go pear-shaped. I use Excel 2008 for Mac, and while it can create a .csv file it didn't create it with quote marks around each cell content, which is what Connections needs. Nor could I find a way to make the program do it. I looked glumly down the barrel at manually putting quote marks around membership details for 150+ members. Not only would it take hours, I'd have RSI at the end of it. A web search found me a macro that would create a .csv with quote marks, so I stopped swearing for a bit. Only to find that - guess what! - it doesn't work on Excel 2008 for Mac as Microsoft decided this particular version wouldn't support Visual Basic macros. Earlier versions do (but I don't have an earlier version) and later versions do (but I don't want to pay hundreds right now just for the privilege).  I started swearing again. Sometimes I really hate technology. Sometimes I really hate Microsoft. Well, most of the time I really hate Microsoft; with Word in particular it has made what was once a decent WP program into a clunky monster and PowerPoint has got worse rather than better in usability. More searching pointed me in the direction of Oracle's Open Office, which is free and which, with a mere click or two, can produce a .csv file complete with quote marks. I simmered down and had a cuppa while OO downloaded and installed. True to its promise I got my .csv as I needed it in less than twenty seconds. Another minute later and I had a database mapped to Connections. There is still some work to do - loading logos, social media links and company descriptions, which have to be handled manually. Unfortunately the current version of Connections doesn't support the very important fields of Contact First Name and Contact Last Name in the .csv import but I understand this will be rectified in a later one. When I have some time over the next couple of days I'll explore OO more fully to see how it compares with the accepted standard, Microsoft Office. I am already using Mac's Pages as a rival to Word for some small client jobs. It's quicker to use, actually, and much better for adding images and creating DTP jobs for the web and email (but not pro print), even if you have to go through the fiddly step of loading them into iPhoto first. Right now though, it's wine o'clock on a Friday, I still have a headache from my sweary session earlier in the day, and it's quittin' time.