For anyone who has grown weary of the current OpenOffice chart tool, or for anyone who has attended my classes and grown alarmed at hearing that charting is as much art as science, there is some relief in sight.
The chart tool has been improved significantly, and it's going to be included in OpenOffice.org 2.3, to be released roughly sometime this fall. If you're curious, you can download the developer version containing the chart tool here.
Here's a comment from Pete who appears to be involved in the chart development.
Thanks for the nice overview.
Please mentions also that many limitions will be overcome with the next
release. It's not only about a new (and shiny :) ) wizard. For example
multiple data series will be possible. Error bar for most kind of
charts will be possible. Regression lines with the function and R^2 are
implemented too. The performance regarding large data sets is improved.
EXCEL im- and export was improved considerably. Many of these features
are essential for engineers, students and scientists in their daily
Worth to read:
However, there is still a long list of existing issues though OOo is
close to perfection. Any Volunteers will to finish the few remaining
Here's a tour of it. I'm getting to know the details myself right now, but this is the gist. OK, a fairly detailed gist.
Here's the basic data we're working with.
I like to select the data since it means less typing, or just less dragging, later. Select the data and choose Insert > Chart. You get this. Click this and any other illustrations to see them bigger.
Window 1: Chart Type
Note that you get a preview of the chart as you go along, in the document. This preview of course disappears when you click Cancel without creating a chart.
There are more up front variations, it seems. Here are a few.
Who doesn't love an exploded donut?
Or a nice XY Scatter.
Or a Net.
And here are the 3D options.
In this window you just pick a type, a variation, any associated options, and you click Next.
Window 2: Data Range
Here you get the choices for what data is involved. Normally in a simple chart you could just have A1 to D5 in a contiguous block. But when you don't have that, you get to specify that ahead of time. Not that this is new but it's more obvious and easier.
You could change the range just by typing something different in the Data Range field. In this, I skip the D column entirely. Use a semicolon to separate non-contiguous ranges of data.
You also have the option, again not new, to have the data in rows or in columns.
And you also get the options at the bottom of the window, First Row as Label and First Column as Label. This is the same kind of thing you specify when sorting; you're saying, if you check the box, that the first row is identifying data, not data to be charted, and ditto with the first column. You usually want to mark both. Or at least I do.
Here's what the chart looks like with both boxes marked.
And the same chart with both unmarked.
Window 3: Data Series
Here, you get even more control over exactly what cells are used for the labels (Names) and for the data (Y-Values). For instance, if you wanted the label for Sales to not be Sales but to be some other term off in cell J14, you could enter $J$14 instead in the Range for Name field shown.
Select Names, then select each of the items in the Data Series list and make changes if necessary for them in the Range for Name and Categories fields.
Then select Y-Values, and do the same thing for each item in the Data Series list.
If you want to add an entirely new set of data to the chart, just click Add. You'll get an Unnamed Series. Then set the Name and YValues for that one, too. Or click Remove to remove any chunk of data in the Data Series window from the chart.
Note that the Categories will be the same for all data series. If you change them for one item in the Data Series list, they'll change for all.
When done, click Next.
Then click Finish. And you've got your chart.
Modifying the Chart Once It's Created
Modifying after creation is a tish less twitchy though not that fundamentally different.
One thing: used to be, you could just select the chart by clicking on it once, right-click, and choose to change the data series. Now you just need to double-click it, then right-click and choose Data Ranges.
Essentially, you double-click the chart, then either rightclick, use the Format menu, or use the Format toolbar. You can also double-click on an item in the chart.
The menu and toolbar have a fewer options, which will take getting used to but is a little simpler.
Here's the menu, and the toolbar after it.
To make a change to a particular bar in this chart, you do essentially the same thing as you used to. Double-click the chart, click on one of the bars to get the data series, then click on the specific bar to modify.
- Third click
- Fourth click
- Options under Object Properties (right-click, double-click, or use menu or toolbar)
- And results
To change titles, just double-click on them and type (after the requisite click, then double-click). This is the same as before.
Overall, not a makeover top to bottom. But nicer. I'm not a frequent chart user, so please give me your comments on what is the most useful.