I love open source software. In fact this blog is open source (kind of). For those that don’t know, open source software is software whose source code (or the guts of the program that you can’t see) is open and available to anyone who wants it. Normally they edit it change it and redistribute it. And the best part is that it is usually FREE for regular users who don’t know how to write such programs. And especially for a wannabe computer geek like me, its great because I can play with, mess it up and still have support from the community, all the writers of said program.
So I finally decided to give OpenOffice, the biggest open source competitor to MS Office a whirl, since I needed to do a database and wanted to learn something new. A buddy of mine did it in Access in about 10 minutes and it looked good. So I dowloaded OpenOffice, all 175 megabytes of it and installed it. I started playing around with Base (their version of Access) and got nowhere. I needed to take some numbers, like dates and distance, and make a simple graph. I wanted it to plot out how many miles I rode a certain day, depending on data I input into a form. So I design the table and the forms, and then set out to do a report with a chart.
Now, the nice thing with OpenOffice is that everything is integrated. Meaning I can open a word document while in the database piece, or open a spreadsheet while in the word processor. But there is such a thing as too much integration. Designing a report and chart should be easy and simple to do. With OpenOffice, when I told it to do a report, it opened up Writer (Word equivalent) and wanted to do the report in there. So I said, fine, no problem. But then when I told it what i wanted to do, it added the dates and miles together and gave me some wacky numbers like 8/12/2016 and 535 miles!!!!
I searched and searched, and came up with nothing. No help nowhere. Everytime I searched for the possibility of graphs and charts in Base, it kept redirecting me to Calc (Excel). Even my buddy, a self proclaimed Access guru, couldn’t figure it out. I mean, if the point is to take Microsoft down and overtake some market share from MS Office, you’d think you’d make the software intuitive and easier to use? But if a techie can’t get it working, how do you expect regular joe schmoe to?