How to handle conversion-issues and macros

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How to handle conversion-issues and macros

Postby klaus_m » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:08 pm

Hello all

I'm working for a big company in IT that starts a project to replace MS-Office (2003) with OO (3.1). For various reasons the decision was made to keep the MS-file-format (xls,doc,ppt...).
Now when starting pilot-testings we discovered that ~ 5 % of the documents have conversion-issues when opening xls or ppt on OO.
We see issues like differences in "imbeded" pictures in xls-files, arrows in ppt-drawings doesn't point to the correct locations (for example in flow-charts), pivot-tables-issues....
Also we discovered that most of the xls-macros doesn't work.

I did some searches on this (and other) forums and often read statements like " ... most of the xls and docs can be used seamless, however some conversion-issues must be expected ..."

I'm not looking for "individual" solutions for specific files (cause I know that rewriting the doc (or xls) with OO would fix most of the problems) I'm more looking for an advice how to cope with this issues in general, because (as every big company) we really have "a lot" of MS-office files! I don'T think we can verify every individual document .

How did other companies solve (or deal) with this issue? Is it advisable not to use the MS-doc-formats anymore? Are there any "macro-converters"? Or is there any OO-setting that supports the "MS-formats" better ?

I know - this is a very general discussion - probably someone can give some feed back?

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Re: How to handle conversion-issues and macros

Postby acknak » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:25 pm

I ... often read statements like " ... most of the xls and docs can be used seamless, however some conversion-issues must be expected ..."

I'm not sure that's accurate as a general statement; I think it would vary from site to site, depending on exactly what features are used in the .doc and .xls documents.

Personally, I would not be comfortable promoting OOo as not a drop-in replacement for MS Office. Any transition of mission-critical technology must be done carefully, with a lot of testing, and different documents will probably require different approaches. From what I hear, it's common to handle the transition by phasing in OOo as the long-term solution, and continue to use MS Office for documents and tasks that present a more difficult transition.

FWIW, I feel strongly that dealing with file-format problems is a waste of time, especially with closed, legacy formats like .doc and .xls. I always work in ODF, and If someone else needs a .doc, I export a copy as .doc, or a PDF if they only need to read it. However, I also realize that that is not practical for many people, and for some documents, unnecessary. The only way to know for sure is to test it.
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Re: How to handle conversion-issues and macros

Postby kabing » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:16 pm

If you haven't sen it already, you might find the Migration Guide available from this page helpful. It is written for 2.x, It looks like an updated version for 3.1 is not yet available.

As a general rule, it is best to work with the OOo native file formats (odt, ods, etc.) and only save as MS or other formats when needed for sharing with those who do not have OOo. If you need to stick with the plan to use MS formats, you will need to carefully detail what OOo features must not be used by your employees because they will be lost when saving to a different format.

For example, OOo includes a "conditional text" field that is not supported by in the .doc format. So, for example, I have a funeral template that includes "conditional text" fields for pronouns and certain other words referring to the deceased. All I have to do is indicate once whether the individual in question is male or female, and then OOo will automatically enter the right pronoun (e.g. "her") or word (e.g. "daughter") in the various conditional fields scattered across the document. But if I save the resulting file in .doc format, all those fields are lost, and there are pronouns and words missing all over the place. I learned this the hard way. :oops:

Some of the displacement issues may not be solvable in a global sense, and may require individual correction each time the file is opened if it is saved in a non-native format.

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