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March 08, 2006


I have to say that I fully comprehended the Nancy Drew reference. When I was a kid, I read all of the Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew books my library system carried (I now proudly own the entire series of Hardy Boy mysteries).

However, I had not considered the possibility that this desire to be like a detective had bled over into my career, but it had. Every thing I know about Windows, Office products (both MS and OpenOffice), web-development, graphics, etc. are all self-taught by going into the program and figuring it out on my own.

One of my previous employers praised me for the ability to track down the bug in a web application because I could look through the entire layer of tiers to find the issue (and it was almost always NOT where they expected the issue to be). I firmly believe that the best way for us detectives to learn new software is to play with it and find all the hidden secrets.

Hi Charles,

Thanks for posting! I think that your skill in hunting down things in the software stems not just from doing it and having the knowledge, but first from your knowing that playing with the software will work. Many people start off with a sense of helplessness (including me with the networking setup in the house ;> ), without the faith that getting in there and messing around will actually work.


Hi Solveig,

I appreciated your article on Charting in OpenOffice, especially given the dearth of documentation (that I could find the last time I looked).

However, I _am_ one of those users who do technical work and need good graphing tools... and in this area OpenOffice falls quite short (ie. GOOD regression curves) or is unstable in large datasets (I am using V2 right now). I am loathe to admit it, but I almost never use the charting tools in OpenOffice for these reasons.

When it is necessary for me to create graphs I nearly always use Gnumeric for my charts. It offers all the functionality of the OpenOffice charting tools as well as much more.

I would prefer to use the OpenOffice suite alone but until these issues are resolved I cannot - and it does not appear that the graphing tool has much priority within the OpenOffice development community.

Hopefully this will change in the future given the impetus from your article and the attention supplied to the charting tool as so many apply the techniques you illustrate.

Thank you again for an illuminating article.
Respectfully yours,
Brendan L

ps. A colleague suggested it germaine to the conversation to mention that I use Windows XP as my operating system.

Hi Brendan,

Yeah, I'm kind of loathe to admit that OOo charting tools really aren't professional grade. I mean, it's certainly good enough for basic stuff, how much you sell of several books over years, that kind of thing.

No problem with using a pro package--me, I use Framemaker for books rather than OpenOffice.org because OpenOffice.org isn't as good a program for professional book publishing. (Cross references, conditional text, etc.)

But back to the charts thing--so there's one issue, whether it's a professional package. It's not. It's good for everyday stuff, not pro stuff, and I think using another package is great. Choice is good. I understand gnuplot is also a program people use.

Issue 2 with charts is the crazy click, double-click, click, and sometimes two mroe clicks, to get at what you want. It's that issue, Crazy Interface, is what I focused on in the article (since I'm definitely not going to be able to whip up a better graphing program in my spare time ;> ). I'm glad it helped out some.

I suspect that the priorities within the OpenOffice.org community, re the graphing module, won't change. The focus, and I have to admit I agree it's a good approach, seems to be the 80/20 approach. Make the most frequently used features the easiest, and get "regular users", the largest portion of the market by a long shot, who don't need advanced professional users, to see that they can use OpenOffice.org. If you know any highly motivated programmers with lots of spare time, though, you can certainly encourage them to do what they can with the charting module. ;>

Thanks for posting,


The graphics component of Oo2 is usefull once you get tricks like you did.

But it certainly isn't easy to go...

For example I needed to do a logarithmic chart but I couldn't! .

I was in a hurry for a presentation so waht I did was to do the basic graph on Office 2000 and then imported that file in Oo2... and guess: There was the log chart. So I finished it on Oo2.

I miss a way to merge two charts in one like in other spreadsheet programs... chances are there some way to do that... but as in the previous case I haven't discovered a way to achieve this.

I think that the chart component deserve more work, that would be a great differenciator from other spreadsheets.

Just my thoughts.


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