Ivor O’Connor

November 27, 2008

DataForm adds efficient input to OpenOffice.org Calc

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 7:16 pm

linux.com has yet another tantalizing article. Perhaps it is their way of giving thanks to the community over the holidays. I hope these good articles continue. http://www.linux.com/feature/153244

Spreadsheets might be called databases for the timid, since they’re more user-friendly than databases and do a good job working with limited amounts of data. Some tools for databases can work well with spreadsheets too. Take for instance DataForm, a new OpenOffice.org Calc extension that provides a form-like interface designed to make entering and finding spreadsheet data easier.

DataForm is based on a similar feature in Microsoft Excel. In both cases, the feature exists because of the difficulty of entering information in spreadsheet cells. To enter data in any spreadsheet, you must either use the input field on the toolbar or click in the field directly; neither choice is particularly convenient. You can use the tab or arrow keys to move around once the cursor is in a cell, but the information you enter may not be immediately visible unless you have taken the effort to customize column widths. DataForm bypasses these limitations by offering a third option: A small form of the sort you can create for entering data in OpenOffice.org’s Base.

Currently at version 0.6.0 but in rapid development, DataForm claims to be compatible with OpenOffice.org 2.1 or higher, but, in my testing, it worked only with OpenOffice.org 3.0. Since its listing also suggests using DataForm with StarOffice 8.0, Update 5, the extension may also work with the latest versions of OpenOffice.org 2.4.

You can install DataForm, like any extension, from Tools -> Extension Manager. Unlike a growing number of extensions, it does not require Java, but is written in OpenOffice.org’s own macro language, which may explain why it is faster than many extensions I have investigated recently.

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