Open Office Calc charts should be able to fill up the entire worksheet - Adventures in Switching to Linux

Friday, February 29, 2008

Open Office Calc charts should be able to fill up the entire worksheet

Happy leap day! Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

I love metrics and statistics. I particularly love historical trends like the how the Euro was once worth $1.10 in 2003 instead of the ridiculous $1.52 high it hit this week (a trip to Europe this summer is looking more and more expensive) and how 59% of you (visitors to this site) are using Firefox on Linux (just based on OS, 66% are using Linux and just based on browser 80% are using Firefox).

I preface this post with all that so you will not think me too nerdy when I tell you I keep track of every mile I drive and every gallon of gas I burn in my car and then stick it in a spreadsheet and graph it. I know the min/max/average/median for the miles I drive between each fill up, my price per mile, my total cost per fill up, and the list goes on. I also know an average of how many miles and how much I spend on gas on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. I admit it is nerdy but it is neat to know and easy to keep track of!

I used to keep track of all this data in an Excel spreadsheet until I moved to Linux and decided to just switch the file over to an Open Document Spreadsheet (ods). That all went great. I even edited the file as an Excel sheet in Open Office for a while. But I do have some beef with Open Office and the culprit is charting in Calc.

I know that charting in Calc has come a long way and is still being improved upon. I applaud the developers and am thrilled that there exists such a high quality open source spreadsheet application. There are lots of little missing features in the current 2.3 release that I would like to see such as better looking chart defaults, trend lines and data label positioning. All of these things are being worked on but the one other thing I really want, I don't see in any development plans. I really want charts to fill up an entire worksheet as they do in Excel.

Excel lets you place a chart in it's own worksheet. When a chart is configured to be it's own sheet it resizes based on the size of the application window. As far as I can tell, Open Office Calc doesn't support a feature like this yet. The best you can do now is stick your chart on it's own worksheet but once there it is set as a fixed size. I realize this is a small issue but shouldn't it also be fairly easy to implement? Maybe not but I sure hope it is and it makes it in to an upcoming release.

See how my pretty graph impoted from Excel looks. Imagine how nice it would look it if filled up the whole window. By the way, this chart below shows the price I paid per gallon for gas since August 2004 and until I filled up this morning before work. I really wish it filled up the whole worksheet! :-)

See that first spike? That was a peak of $3.099/gal in September 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. The next spike was between May and August 2006. And the final bump there is just depressing... I paid $3.129 per gallon this morning. The most I have ever paid.


Chris said...

I recently starting using Calc instead of Excel, and am getting quite annoyed with the same issue you have.
Have you been able to find a workaround? Perhaps OOo3 will solve our problems...

~ Chris

Cristi said...

After 2 years, they still dont have this feature. I am talking about Open Office 3.2

Jacob said...

I'm in the same situation. We're going to Open Office soon and I wanted to play around with it. Most of what I do includes charting, and I am having this difficulty. I am also having difficulty including multiple columns that are not next to each other in the chart range. Any ideas?