Falkewave wrote:Is there a way to override this "feature" when opening a file that already contains strings that Calc will assume are dates?
A spreadsheet cell has either text or a formatted number. Unlike Excel, Calc regards the difference strictly. It will never convert text to number or vice versa unless you tell it to do so.
Falkewave wrote:As of now, Calc is automatically changing these strings as soon as the file is loaded.
If the word "file" refers to a plain text-file, some flavour of csv or something, you should honestly tell us about this important matter of fact. In this case I guess that the respective field with values like "12-03" is not quoted as suggested in several conventions on using plain text tables (csv). In this case your problem is that Calc makes no assumptions about your data being text or not. It just treats 12-03 as if you enter 12-03 into the respective spreadsheet cell. Anything else would be auto-magic behind the scenes.
Falkewave wrote:Changing the format to "Text" does nothing in this case.
No formatting will never change already existing values nor will it convert water into wine or vice versa. This is a very important feature, indeed.
My statement ...
Villeroy wrote:Number format "Text" (no number at all) takes all input as literal string.
... implies that you can prepare the cells before
entering any values.
If you are working with plain text files or text-tables in the clipboard, you can specify how to interprete each field's input values. Just pick a column in the import dialog and change it from "Standard" to "Text", "US-English", "Date(YMD)", "Date(MDY)", "Date(DMY)".http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=13587
Unfortunately, there is only one single feature where Calc does not give you the control: menu:Insert>External Data... where you can link a range to a html-table. None of the above methods prevents 12-03 to be imported as numeric "12th of March" or "Dec the 3rd" respectively, depending on your application locale (US style or not). It overwrites all previously existing formatting, trying to apply some of the html-tags.
A database application does not have this problem since it is absolutely clear what 12-03 is supposed to be, depending if you put it into a text field or not. If in doubt, it will simply reject the input as invalid for the respective field.
A spreadsheet has no such fields. It is intentionally designed as freehand-tool, never rejecting any input, happily mixing numbers and text with formulas, which itself implies that each single cell must accept (and interprete one way or the other) whatever you throw at it.