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posted by martyb on Monday November 26 2018, @02:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the putting-it-all-together dept.

If you've ever tried to use the CONCATENATE function in Microsoft Excel to merge the values in a range of cells, you know it doesn't work unless you add each cell to the function, one by one.

You might have noticed the following message in the support article for CONCATENATE:

Important: In Excel 2016, Excel Mobile, and Excel Online, this function has been replaced with the CONCAT function. Although the CONCATENATE function is still available for backward compatibility, you should consider using CONCAT from now on. This is because CONCATENATE may not be available in future versions of Excel.

Meet the alternatives: CONCAT and TEXTJOIN

for CONCAT and TEXTJOIN:

Note: This feature is not available in Excel 2016 unless you have an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.

While it is admirable that Microsoft is finally fixing some of the idiosyncrasies of its software, I fear the future will bring a level of fragmentation unseen since the office 2003 to 2007 switch.


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  • (Score: 0, Troll) by The Shire on Monday November 26 2018, @03:32PM (25 children)

    by The Shire (5824) on Monday November 26 2018, @03:32PM (#766459)

    In an enterprise environment, LibreOffice Calc is a poor substitute for Excel for anything beyond relatively simple spreadsheets. And if, like most companies, you already have invested in highly complex Excel spreadsheets you're going to have one hell of a time convincing management to even try to allocate the resources needed to port them to Calc.

    In the corporate world Microsoft has a stranglehold. There's just too much time invested in MS Office to make it in any way practical to move everyone to something that will require retraining all their employees, especially when you end up with a platform that is roughly equivalent to Office 2003.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @04:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @04:13PM (#766475)

    office 2003 is the best version

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @04:34PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @04:34PM (#766480)

    Indeed, the best thing would be really to just not buy into it to begin with.

    IMHO, the real reason that MS is converting to SAAS is that it makes it harder for people to migrate away as they can't just refuse to stop buying new versions that are an easier target. The extra money is probably not much of a disincentive either.

  • (Score: 5, Disagree) by bzipitidoo on Monday November 26 2018, @04:52PM (15 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26 2018, @04:52PM (#766486) Journal

    > LibreOffice Calc is a poor substitute for Excel for anything beyond relatively simple spreadsheets

    I keep hearing this, and it sounds like perfect FUD. Microsoft shills are always saying vague, scary sounding stuff exactly like this. Where's the evidence? The bug reports? Admit it, it's M$ propaganda. There might even be a tiny bit of truth to it, but wildly exaggerated. For instance, if "relatively simple" means anything less than a billion cells, and LibreOffice can handle that, while Excel can handle a billion plus another few thousand, I could see M$ trumpeting that 0.0001% greater capacity in a deceptive and misleading manner. But, if a spreadsheet is that freaking huge, you're better off using a database anyway.

    One thing we can count on is that LibreOffice will never force users onto a costly upgrade treadmill. CONCATENATE "may not be available in future versions", okay, there can be good reasons for that. But the replacement is not available unless you subscribe to their SAAS scam? WTF??

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @05:08PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @05:08PM (#766496)

      The only problem I've had is that Libreoffice refuses to take information from a table from my browser and paste correctly. It insists upon making it a single column or putting too much into a single cell.

      It's hardly an insurmountable problem, but it's really annoying to have to manually separate things into columns that should be automatically done.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @05:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @05:51AM (#766828)

        I've noticed that with some tables you need to use paste special.

      • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Tuesday November 27 2018, @06:21PM

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @06:21PM (#766978)

        ...Libreoffice refuses to take information from a table from my browser and paste correctly.

        I have the same problem with Excel. I thought it was just part of the human condition.

        --
        Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by digitalaudiorock on Monday November 26 2018, @05:52PM (2 children)

      by digitalaudiorock (688) on Monday November 26 2018, @05:52PM (#766515)

      I can list several areas where Libreoffice works far better than excel. Some of them are insanely dumb things that Excel does with TSV format importing and the like:

      1. If you associate the TSV extension with excel in order to automatically open them in excel, doing so does NOT bring up the same import dialog (for example to verify the column data types etc) that you get with File -> Open. When it gets that wrong it can do irreparable things to the data and you're screwed. For example I've seen ids that happened to be HEX strings loose all the leading zeros because they get treated as numbers. The only work around is to save it first. Libreoffice does NOT have this issue.

      2. For whatever reason, if any data in a cell of a TSV file happens to have the text "<?xml" anywhere in the data, excel refuses to open the TSV saying that it's in some other format than the extension. I mean holy hell...the TSV format basically amounts to "columns are delimited by tabs...rows are delimited by newlines". You could write a parser for that in 5 minutes. What are they doing? Again, Libreoffice doesn't have this issue.

      3. When exporting from excel when using the English U.S. locale, they do NOT offer the single most convenient date/time format...that is YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss. The ONLY means of getting that option is to switch to some other locale...I think English GB has it for example. Again...not an issue with Libreoffce.

      One I recall from many many years ago that may now be fixed(?) was that exporting an XLS format spread sheet to TSV in cases where cells of the XLS contained new lines, did NOT convert the newlines in the data to spaces (which the archaic OpenOffice of the time did) obviously resulting in a broken useless pile of crap with erroneous row delimiters.

      I tend to think a lot of this sort of behavior is intentional, because it tends to be related to using the data with other...God forbid...possibly non-MS software. Excel is a flaming POS.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @12:20PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @12:20PM (#766892)

        "associate the TSV extension with excel"

        How did you do this in Windows 10? So far I have completely failed to be able to do so. It shows TSV in the known file extension list but nothing can be associated with it.

        • (Score: 2) by digitalaudiorock on Tuesday November 27 2018, @09:53PM

          by digitalaudiorock (688) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @09:53PM (#767058)

          Actually I haven't myself but I believe coworkers of mine have. I use almost nothing but Linux and don't even have office installed on my only Windows system. It should just be a matter of right-clicking a TSV file and choosing "open with" and selecting to use that as teh default. However I seem to read a LOT of posts where Excel simply isn't an option there with no resolution at all...typical MS and a reminder of why I use Linux frankly. If I find out any specifics I'll post back.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @06:02PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26 2018, @06:02PM (#766522)

      > if a spreadsheet is that freaking huge, you're better off using a database anyway.

      Exactly! And yet in practice instead of a database lots of us are stuck with excel.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @06:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @06:30AM (#766837)

        if a spreadsheet is that freaking huge, you're better off using a database anyway

        Exactly! And yet in practice instead of a database lots of us are stuck with excel.

        Becaus PHBs (almost) understand spreadsheets.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Monday November 26 2018, @07:31PM (3 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday November 26 2018, @07:31PM (#766562) Journal

      > LibreOffice Calc is a poor substitute for Excel for anything beyond relatively simple spreadsheets

      For instance, if "relatively simple" means anything less than a billion cells, and LibreOffice can handle that, while Excel can handle a billion plus another few thousand, ....

      I think you've stumbled across another reason we don't see a lot of these Excel to Calc conversions. In a lot of these business cases, Excel is not the proper tool for the job in the first place.

      So when you finally decide to replace these Excel solutions you realize a database is actually the proper tool and migrate to that instead of just another spreadsheet.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by krishnoid on Monday November 26 2018, @10:14PM (2 children)

        by krishnoid (1156) on Monday November 26 2018, @10:14PM (#766660)

        I think you've stumbled across another reason we don't see a lot of these Excel to Calc conversions. In a lot of these business cases, Excel is not the proper tool for the job in the first place.

        So when you finally decide to replace these Excel solutions you realize a database is actually the proper tool and migrate to that instead of just another spreadsheet.

        *We* know that. You also know that business uses spreadsheets as a common denominator across multiple departments with a gradual learning curve. Maybe a database-backed spreadsheet would see some adoption?

        • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday November 26 2018, @10:36PM (1 child)

          by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday November 26 2018, @10:36PM (#766672) Journal

          Well yeah, cause "We" are the ones who get called in for the replacement when Excel finally becomes too painful to maintain.

          I've replaced a LOT of spreadsheets in my career and it's never been with a different spreadsheet.

          • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Tuesday November 27 2018, @12:33AM

            by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @12:33AM (#766725)

            I somehow overlooked the "finally replace" part in your text. That totally makes sense.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by edIII on Monday November 26 2018, @09:29PM

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26 2018, @09:29PM (#766628)

      Total FUD. I've been dealing with databases and data entry for damn near 30 years now. My first spreadsheet software was VisiCalc on an Apple II, and then on the Apple IIe. I remember getting a 286 PC and started using Lotus 123 in the early 80s (I still miss Lotus). I've been with Excel since it started in Windows, and then developed entire niche CRM platforms in Access when it came around in the mid 90's.

      The super complicated stuff they're probably referring to is integration in Excel with other M$ products (like the aforementioned Access), and the light form of Visual Basic programming they had under the hood. ActiveX controls, and shit like that. It was with an ActiveX control that I authored an Excel spreadsheet capable of using a modem to dial out, call a line, retrieve some info using DTMF tones, and then update the spreadsheet for the suits. At that point, I'm hard pressed to believe it is still a spreadsheet and not some Frankenstein'd native app cobbled together using Excel like an IDE. If you are really using Excel like a database, then you are using lookup functions. Haven't tried the equivalent (because I can create an actual ACID compliant database in 5 mins) in LibreOffice, but I'm sure that it is there. Heck, there are functions in Excel that allowed you to look up data in M$ SQL servers. Yes, if you are using Excel like a front end for a different database, also based in M$, then LibreOffice may not be for you as you are too vendor locked (and therefore fucked). It's not a real apples to apples comparison.

      Having extensively used Excel as a prep tool for data entry, I can with a high degree of confidence say that LibreOffice is actually better at it. I started with OpenOffice first too, and found I wanted to use it more than Excel. At that point, Excel was retired, and that was close to 10 years ago now? Damn time flies.

      Copying and pasting data from different tables and fields, from browsers and other apps, into LibreOffice Calc causes it to pop-up dialog box asking how to parse it. Excel 2007 (latest I've used) required opening the document, and you had to go out of your way to get to where you could control the parsing. Excel also mangled data fields a lot. A lot. LibreOffice does it less. I think one time, just once, my problems with LibreOffice were so bad that I needed to use Excel 2007 instead. That's once out of hundreds of different data entry jobs.

      The vast majority of spreadsheets that move beyond the "relatively simple" belong in a database anyways. Why they continue to be in a spreadsheet program is also very simply to explain; Spreadsheet programs are natively better front end tools for data than a transactional database manipulated with SQL statements. Which is the greatest reason I still use it for prep work, and that is front end tools for databases need to made, and not all of them are so great at importing data and manipulating it.

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 2) by dwilson on Tuesday November 27 2018, @01:16AM (1 child)

      by dwilson (2599) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @01:16AM (#766734)

      By far, the biggest problems I've had with Libreoffice Calc vs Microsoft Excel is Calc's occasional, hit-and-miss incompatibility with Excel's VBA support and associated functions.

      ...which sort of makes sense, because they are two different programs. But not being able to take a VBA macro written for Excel and drop it in Calc and go, is a pretty big show-stopper to any organization with a LOT of time and effort invested in VBA macros.

      --
      - D
      • (Score: 5, Touché) by Hawkwind on Tuesday November 27 2018, @02:11AM

        by Hawkwind (3531) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @02:11AM (#766761)

        organization with a LOT of time and effort invested in VBA macros

        My condolences

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 26 2018, @07:30PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26 2018, @07:30PM (#766561) Homepage Journal

    In the corporate world . . . too much time invested

    It's not the corporate world that paid all that time. This is one of the things that really burn me up about Microsoft, governments, and education. For longer than my sons have been alive, the schools have been teaching stuff that they call "computer science". In actuality, they were busy building that Microsoft capture. Every kid who has graduated high school in the past 30 years of so has been at least moderately competent on Microsoft products - but they know Jack-shit about anything else.

    Of course most corporations can't afford to correct a shit education. They are now stuck with inferior students from an inferior education system who only know how to us Microsoft Excel. Interestingly enough, those students really believe that a MS spreadsheet is the solution to EVERYTHING !!

    --
    alles in Ordnung
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @09:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27 2018, @09:39AM (#766866)

    As a LO user for years (started with version 2.x or OpenOffice) I have to say that you are right in some part.
    LO Calc is poor replacement for Excel if it comes to data analysis. It is just impossible to open any larger file with data (>100000 records) without clogging memory extensively and having large delays. Removing rows in such file is an awful experience, and because devs have a top-grade processors with server-like amounts of RAM this is not a problem. This is what itches me the most as I frequently deal with measurements results.
    Although significant effort is made in this field, the "curse of Agnubis" as I call it, is still present in some cases. The name is from Agnubis, the experimental FOSS presentation software which had a very interesting save feature (available as a patch): It dumped a whole state of program as a file. The problem was that restoring of such state, as not all objects were configured and "registered" during load, was problematic and frequently did not return all changes. Well, that was probably the last version of Agnubis :). LO tends to "forget" cropped image positions, linked areas, sometimes even text flow properties. Because this happens in larger documents, it's not taken as a bug.
    For dev who invented that putting uneditable defaults in "normal" template is a good idea I recommend to work in a more suitable field, which does not require thinking about future actions.
    Although Calc, Writer and Impress are indeed usable in a simple tasks and they may replace Office in home/small company environment, the Draw and Base are not. SVG exported by Draw is worse than HTML exported by MS Word.
    And the Base. It looks like an ordinary user who wants to make a small relational database of his stuff needs to pay for a server and hire a geek to do it in C++, Python or similar language. Base is a perfect example how to waste a good software by using lots of libraries for the same thing, which has impact on stability and memory usage. And Base is done without any thinking about how it will be used. This is a database, there will be macros everywhere! And in Base lots of normal things like opening system windows requires complex hacks which are more exploit-like.

  • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Tuesday November 27 2018, @11:16PM

    by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Tuesday November 27 2018, @11:16PM (#767079)

    And if, like most companies, you already have invested in highly complex Excel spreadsheets you're going to have one hell of a time convincing management to even try to allocate the resources needed to port them to Calc.

    That's always been the claim, but in the examples I've seen almost invariably the spreadsheets were complex only because they were so poorly designed in the first place. Usually they were the product of a single individual entrenched in their position, and I often wondered if the spreadsheets were so muddled solely to make the creator look more irreplaceable.

    There's just too much time invested in MS Office to make it in any way practical to move everyone to something that will require retraining all their employees,

    Another common claim that does not hold up. Most users would hardly know the difference, especially if you changed the Excel icon on their desktop to link to LibreOffice. They might put it off to another upgrade, ask a few questions if they can't find something, but few would require significant if any retraining.

  • (Score: 2) by Fluffeh on Wednesday November 28 2018, @01:44AM

    by Fluffeh (954) on Wednesday November 28 2018, @01:44AM (#767140) Journal

    LibreOffice Calc is a poor substitute for Excel for anything beyond relatively simple spreadsheets

    You're half right, but mainly wrong.

    The business users I work with will happily make intricate webs of office files, add in some macro-recorded VB jibberish to them and have it "just the way they want". You can't stick a LibreOffice file in the middle of that and expect it to work so you're right there.

    You pretty much however, can in fact replicate the same end output using LibreOffice - but it is done differently, and that's the sticking point. Users aren't prepared to learn to do some of those tasks again in a different way. It's People Change Management, not software functionality so much.

    The company I work for changed to Google Suit (though we still use MS Office, especially Excel, as needed). In the first year, Everyone hated Google Sheets. In the second year, more and more people were happily trading some of the scripting functionality for the collaboration offered by Sheets. Now, most of the files are Google Sheets based. Yes, there are some hold-outs (In finance and in planning) but even there, folks are shifting over.

    An enterprise environment doesn't NEED Office. It just needs a tool to enable the business users to communicate with one another. As more learn to do that via other solutions (while also becoming more generally tech savvy) the less reliance there is on a single product.

  • (Score: 2) by Bot on Wednesday November 28 2018, @12:41PM (2 children)

    by Bot (3902) on Wednesday November 28 2018, @12:41PM (#767282) Journal

    >And if, like most companies, you already have invested in highly complex Excel spreadsheets

    like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall

    Not migrating to openoffice/libreoffice/some math package/pyspread/business object environments like pharo as a mere backup/alternative means most companies simply think the only tool they have is the best for the job. Good luck to them.

    --
    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 2) by The Shire on Thursday November 29 2018, @02:58PM (1 child)

      by The Shire (5824) on Thursday November 29 2018, @02:58PM (#767738)

      It's a matter of employee training and experience. There is a steep learning curve associated with moving off a platform like MS Office which has an existing knowledge base in the corporate world. The man hours lost trying to train and maintain employees on an unfamiliar system, the vast majority of whom are technically unskilled, is far higher than simply paying the troll for MS Office that everyone already knows.

      For example, the city of Munich made headlines when they said they were dumping windows and ms office for linux and libreoffice. It took them TEN YEARS to make the transition and after 3 years they ended up dumping it all and went back to windows. Opensource software is great in the backend server world, but on the client side Microsoft still reins, warts and all.

      • (Score: 2) by Bot on Saturday December 01 2018, @11:41PM

        by Bot (3902) on Saturday December 01 2018, @11:41PM (#768762) Journal

        > after 3 years they ended up dumping it all and went back to windows.
        No, somebody else did. Politicians get elected and subbed.

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        Account abandoned.