OpenOffice.org and MS Excel are similar in many ways. For starters, the user interface, which includes the icons, menus and toolbars are very much alike in appearance and purpose (except for MS Excel 2007) .
The list-making , sorting and filtering capabilities are comparable . Rows and columns can be shown , hidden or grouped in both. Excel has the advantage of having advanced filters, which allows cells to be arranged according to its format, color , or by some other criteria.
Almost 80% of the functions are identical. This includes basic arithmetic and simple statistics such as averages, medians, and means. Charts, diagrams, graphics, and text art can be inserted into both. The page formats for printing are similar and both programs offer themes for formatting whole sheets.
There are , however, some important differences.
1. The terminology
The entire file is called a “workbook” in Excel, but is referred to as a “spreadsheet ” in Calc. One tabbed sheet in a Calc spreadsheet is a “sheet” . One tabbed sheet in an Excel workbook is a “worksheet “. Callouts which appear when the mouse pointer is positioned over the cell are called” comments” in Excel but are referred to as “notes” in Calc.
2. The User interface
In Calc , when you open several spreadsheets , each spreadsheet opens in its own window. This is called a Single Document Interface (SDI). In Excel , when you open several workbooks, each is displayed within one parent window. This is called a Multiple Document Interface (MDI). When you close the parent window, all files are also closed. This a strong point for Calc because it gives greater accessibility to information about the active document and it is easier to navigate within an SDI. Each Calc window provides menus, toolbars and other features that directly relate to the document in that window. You can even view several spreadsheets at the same time.
3. Functions and arguments
Both programs have a function bar at the top of the editing window that opens on a list of functions. Excel users search for the proper function by using natural language queries. After the search, Excel opens the Functions Argument dialog. Calc , however, opens its function wizard directly when the user clicks on the Function Wizard icon. Like Excel, Calc users can use a search field. However Calc’s advantage is that it lists the required fields and errors before you insert a function into a cell. It also displays a tree view of the formula structure which is helpful when composing complex formulas. More advanced Calc users can go directly to a more stripped-down Function List.
The arguments in Excel uses semicolons to separate parameters in a function. The Calc equivalnet, called parameters , uses semicolons. Calc will generate a “#NAME?” error if you use a comma in place of a semi-colon.
The styles in the Styles and Formatting floating window in Calc are consistent with other OpenOffice.org programs. Excel does not have a similar feature that unifies formatting options with other programs in the MS Office suite.
5. Interpreting cell contents
Calc strictly follows the cell format you specified. A cell that is defined as text is treated as text, even when a number is entered into it. For example, if cell B2 contains the number 6, the formula =B2+1 returns the value, 1. In Excel, this returns a value of 7.
6. Relative addressing of sheets
In Calc, it is possible to have a relative addressing of sheets using the dollar sign . Thus, =$Sheet2!$A$1 always refers to the first cell on sheet 2 because the sheet is absolute. On the other hand, =Sheet2!$A$1 when on sheet one and copied to another sheet will refer to the first cell of the next sheet because the sheet is relative. This is not possible in Excel.
7. Dragging and Dropping
In Excel, you select the cell or range of cells and simply drag and drop its contents to the new location. In Calc, select the cell, drag to select a cell adjacent to it, then drag back so that only the desired cell is selected. Then the cell can be dragged and dropped.
8. Shortcut Keys
To change from relative to absolute references , press Shift+F4 in Calc but press F4 in Excel. To edit cell comments, press Shift+F2 in Excel, but press Ctrl+F1 in Calc to edit notes. To fill right or fill down in Excel, press Ctrl+R or Ctrl+D. This has no equivalent in Calc. When you press F5 in Excel, you can go to a specific cell. WHen you press F5 in Calc, it opens the Navigator. To insert a function in Calc,press Ctrl+F2. There is no equivalent to this in Excel.
9. Deleting cell contents
When pressing the Delete button in Excel, the contents are automatically deleted. To delete contents automatically in Calc, press the Backspace key. When pressing Delete in Calc, a dialog opens up , where you can choose specifically whether to delete strings, numbers, formulas, notes , formats or objects.
In Calc , you can use up to 256 sheets. In Excel, the number of sheets according to the Microsoft web site ( http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel/HP100738491033.aspx) is “Limited by available memory and system resources”.
The above are only a few of the differences between Excel and Calc. To find out more on this topic, access the OpenOffice.org 2.0 Migration Guide from the OpenOffice.org documentation page at http://documentation.openoffice.org/manuals/oooauthors2/