Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

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bennachie
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Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:39 am

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but this area really is a mess. There is some good news. PlanMaker can save a document in XLS format, and later open that document correctly (which, as you know, is a good deal more than can be said for documents saved in XLSX format). Excel 2010 can also read the document, without complaint. I haven't been able to test Excel 2003 on it yet, but will report back soon. Furthermore, PlanMaker can save a document in PMD format (2010 version) and later open it correctly. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for PlanMaker 2010 (the Linux version - I haven't yet tested the Windows version, having over-written that to install the beta versions of 2012). That throws up heaps of errors when presented with the saved "PMD 2010" document - essentially, the result is unusable.

These appear to be serious problems, given the claimed interoperability of PlanMaker and Excel 2010.

We might yet need a beta 4 version ...

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:38 pm

Since my earlier post, I have been able to complete one or two further tests. I don't actually have access to Office 2003 anymore, but I have been able to confirm that LibreOffice Calc will open a reasonably large and complex XLS spreadsheet created by PlanMaker. There appear to be no functional problems with the resultant document although, as is the case when PlanMaker opens an XLS or XLSX document created by Office 2010, there are quite a few cosmetic glitches associated with conditional formatting. Sorting these glitches out is a bit tedious, but not a major issue providing that conversion is a one-off activity (however, the workload would currently make it difficult to use PlanMaker as one's basic system while routinely interacting with colleagues using Office 2010). You do have to remember that conditional formatting is picked up by "Format Painter" in LibreOffice Calc, but not in PlanMaker - that aside, in this particular area, PlanMaker probably takes a more logical approach than LibreOffice Calc, but neither comes near to matching Office 2010 for convenience and flexibility.

In my experience, for both PlanMaker and LibreOffice Calc, if you want to convert a document to a form that can be opened by Office 2010, your best route is via XLS, although there will be some minor loss of functionality associated with the various conversions. Excel 2010 claims to be able to read documents in ODS format, but I've had little success in attempting the direct conversion route. I'm not aware of any software packages other than PlanMaker that can open documents in PMD format - either the 2012 version or the 2010 version - but would be happy to be proved wrong.

If PlanMaker really could read and write XLSX documents seamlessly, that would represent a genuine competitive advantage over LibreOffice Calc. At the moment, reading is fairly good, but not perfect, and writing does not work reliably once spreadsheets reach a realistic scale (it may, for all I know, work well for small, simple test cases). In those circumstances, the only real advantage that PlanMaker can rely upon is computational speed. Here, PlanMaker is a bit better than LibreOffice, but not as good as Office 2010. Unfortunately, it appears that the speed comes at a considerable cost in file size compared with either of these packages.

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:11 am

I may have been a little hard on the performance of the PlanMaker 2012 to PlanMaker 2010 conversion. The underlying problem turned out to be a confusion over dates. The Linux version of 2010 appears to be stuck in US date mode, whatever regional layout is selected at system level (I don't know whether the same is true of the Windows version -certainly the Windows version of 2012 handles this issue competently).

The fix is tedious and time-consuming, but does restore a semblance of order to the conversion (which I would now describe as far from perfect, but just about acceptable).

The date issue may be something to bear in mind when working on the Linux version of 2012.

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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by sven-l » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:00 am

bennachie wrote:I may have been a little hard on the performance of the PlanMaker 2012 to PlanMaker 2010 conversion. The underlying problem turned out to be a confusion over dates. The Linux version of 2010 appears to be stuck in US date mode, whatever regional layout is selected at system level (I don't know whether the same is true of the Windows version -certainly the Windows version of 2012 handles this issue competently).

The fix is tedious and time-consuming, but does restore a semblance of order to the conversion (which I would now describe as far from perfect, but just about acceptable).

The date issue may be something to bear in mind when working on the Linux version of 2012.
Which Linux distribution are you using? Was the document with the wrong date mode created with PlanMaker 2010 or 2012 for Windows and saved as .pmd or .xls file?
Sven Leßmann
SoftMaker Software GmbH

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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by sven-l » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:02 am

bennachie wrote:Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for PlanMaker 2010 (the Linux version - I haven't yet tested the Windows version, having over-written that to install the beta versions of 2012). That throws up heaps of errors when presented with the saved "PMD 2010" document - essentially, the result is unusable.

These appear to be serious problems, given the claimed interoperability of PlanMaker and Excel 2010.
Can you please attach a small sample file or send it to forum(at)softmaker.de as I cannot reproduce it here? Thank you!
Sven Leßmann
SoftMaker Software GmbH

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:47 pm

@Sven

The document was created by using PlanMaker 2012 Windows to import a reasonably large XLSX spreadsheet which had originally been prepared using Office 2010. The resultant spreadsheet was saved in PMD(2012) format. I then adjusted the PMD(2012) version was to remove various cosmetic glitches (mainly associated with conditional formatting issues, as noted elsewhere). The revised version then passed a series of tests that had originally been applied to the XLSX spreadsheet. Dates were handled perfectly. I subsequently saved a copy of the updated PMD(2012) spreadsheet in PMD(2010) format, and tried to open it using PlanMaker 2010 Linux. The dreaded date problem arose in both Fedora 16 (.RPM) and Ubuntu 11.10 (.DEB).

I don't particularly want to fiddle about with "small sample files" - many of the problems of PlanMaker 2012 seem to result from an overuse of such files for testing purposes - but the "US dates only" issue for PlanMaker 2010 Linux should be easy enough to reproduce on a small scale. I'll get back to you on that as soon as practicable. I would have assumed this to be a known issue with PM 2010 Linux, but accept that not many accountants (for whom this factor is most likely to be critical) use Linux as their primary operating system. As I commented, this is really an issue for PlanMaker 2012 Linux (PlanMaker 2012 Windows Beta already handles dates correctly and so, very possibly, does PlanMaker 2010 Windows - I'll try to confirm that later today on one of my other systems).

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:13 am

@Sven

I have now been able to test my exported spreadsheet with PlanMaker 2010 Windows.

The good news is that PlanMaker 2010 Windows generally makes a decent job of reading a spreadsheet prepared in PlanMaker 2012 Beta in PMD(2010) format. Dates are handled correctly (unlike PlanMaker 2010 Linux) and the spreadsheet continues to operate correctly from a functional perspective.

The only serious hiccup that I encountered was with cell formatting, where confusion was the order of the day. For example, telephone numbers formatted with a ten-leading-zeroes custom format magically became formatted as currencies, currencies that were straight dollar amounts with two decimal places took on an unusual format where the dollar symbol was replaced by "[$$]", and so forth. The list of custom formats included with PlanMaker 2012 is quite a bit more extensive than the corresponding list included with PlanMaker 2010. Possibly the fact that I had added four or five custom formats of my own to the original spreadsheet may have contributed to messing up the mapping between the 2012 and the 2010 lists that is presumably an integral part of the conversion process from 2012 to 2010. That should be fairly easy for the developers to check. The spreadsheet itself runs to some 16.7 MB in PM(2012) format, so might not get through as an email attachment.

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:03 am

I can now confirm that, not altogether unexpectedly, when I return to PlanMaker 2012 Beta, and use it to open a version of the PMD (2010) document referred to in my earlier post which has had the original cell formatting errors corrected, the resultant PMD (2012) spreadsheet contains a new (and only slightly less extensive) set of cell formatting errors. So the custom-format mapping is broken in both directions.

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:35 am

It's quite easy to demonstrate that that custom formatting becomes detached from cells when a small spreadsheet is prepared in PM 2012, exported in PM 2010 format, and then opened by PM 2010. The custom formats themselves do not disappear from the list, but the links to them from the cells have vanished. On this scale, I haven't been able to replicate the impression of chaos created by converting my large spreadsheet. This may be because lots of extra entries appear in the list of custom formats included in the large spreadsheet. These were presumably introduced during the original conversion from XLSX. At sample scale, however, all cells with custom formatting simply revert to the "general format" when the file is saved in PMD(2010) format. That is unhelpful, but less surprising! As requested, sample spreadsheets are attached. Sample-PMD(2012) was created with PM 2012 Beta and saved in PMD(2012) format. Sample-PMD(2012-2010) was saved by PM 2012 Beta in PMD(2010) format.
Attachments
Sample-PMD(2012-2010).pmd
(16.5 KiB) Downloaded 264 times
Sample-PMD(2012).pmd
(16.5 KiB) Downloaded 249 times

sven-l
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by sven-l » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:13 pm

Ok, I can now reproduce this here (even under Windows) and informed the developers. Thank you for the information and sample files.
Sven Leßmann
SoftMaker Software GmbH

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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by sven-l » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:19 am

This was a problem in PlanMaker for Windows 2010, and is fixed now. It will not occur anymore in the next service pack.
Sven Leßmann
SoftMaker Software GmbH

bennachie
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Re: Saving and Converting Spreadsheets - Chapter 2

Post by bennachie » Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:13 am

@Sven

Thanks for your prompt and constructive response.

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