Feeds

OpenOffice bug/feature stirs 'horde of angry chimps'

The Seven Year Microsoft Itch

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Update: This story has been updated to clarify when the described bug/feature occurs

Seven and a half years after some poor soul first complained it was vaporizing his data, OpenOffice is still plagued by a Calc bug/feature that overwrites fields hidden using the spreadsheet's Autofilter tool.

"There are only two things preventing my organization from ditching MS Office for OOo, and the biggest one is the screwed up autofilter," one user wrote back in January 2002. "Since I use a spreadsheet all day for stuff like this, the screwed up filter behaviour is completely unacceptable."

If you, say, hide several rows via Autofilter and then "drag-fill" data into cells that are still visible, hidden cells are overwritten as well. With Excel, those hidden fields are left untouched. You can see the bug/feature in action here:

But despite countless complaints from OpenOffice users - and former OpenOffice users - the "screwed up autofilter" is still alive and well. Though the issue has turned up in three separate reports - here, here, and here - developers have fixed some hidden overwrites but not the drag-fill overwrite. For instance, overwrites no longer happens with cut and paste.

Just two days ago, another user popped up with another cry for help.

"[The issue] was first reported in January 2002 (yes that's right over 7 and half years ago!) as a defect but the developers obviously believe that destroying data is quite acceptable as they changed it to an enhancement request and refused to change it back," he wrote. "It has dragged on over 2 further issues which is quite unbelievable if it [weren't] so true. From the issue comments it is obviously causing major grief especially amongst those who championed the installation of it in companies and organisations."

Ed Hawley, a British-based IT type, tells The Reg he first encountered the bug in 2003 - and hasn't gone back to OpenOffice since. "No one seems to accept that it's a major problem. Developers say it works as specified," Hawley says. "But it's like if you had an iPod and it deleted tracks when you shuffle tunes."

An OpenOffice press contact declined to speak with us about the bug/feature. He's a Sun employee, and thanks to the Oracle acquisition - which was just approved - he feared that chatting with us would put his life in danger. Others have yet to respond for requests for comment.

One user doesn't quite see the bug/feature as a serious problem. But he does feel that the ongoing seven-and-a-half-year saga points to serious flaws in the way OpenOffice is developed. "It shows that OOo has something like an audience, but no community at all," he writes. "You can not discuss, specify, and resolve things within a horde of angry chimps. The developers did the one and only possible thing. They kept cool and quiet...

"We all know that OOo, like any other software, is not good enough for most users who are in need a free clone of some other software (free as in beer, the rest of our freedom does not matter anyway). But this is an illusion. There will never be any clone of your favourite software, let alone a free one." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.