Application of the Month: KSpread

March's Application of the Month covers KSpread, the spreadsheet program from KOffice. Markus Grob introduces us to using KSpread and we have an interview with its maintainer Laurent Montel. Read it now in
Dutch, English, French, and German.


better lookup support. Or, at least based on the last time I looked, lookup support at all. But it has promise.

By mikeyd at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

Er, what exactly do you mean when you say "lookup support"?

By Inge Wallin at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

Lookup tables, so I can do VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP like in Excel or Gnumeric. If I need to be able to sum multiple attributes of the same list, e.g. (since I can't think of a better example right now) the price and weight of an order, the obvious way to do this is with a lookup table, and I have a few Excel spreadsheets that use them heavily. I also need the SUMIF function, but I imagine that will be implemented soon since it's probably a trivial hack to COUNTIF which is already implemented. But lookups are a bit more complex.

By mikeyd at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

Why, SUMIF already exists in latest CVS. ;)

By Tomas at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

How good is KOffice when it comes to bugs?

Featurewise, KOffice seems to be pretty Ok. But how much of the bugs have been eliminated?

By Kdeuser at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

well, I dunno how many bugs they did squash lately, but for me it became quite stable over time. it used to crash now and then, but that seems to be alot less common...

By superstoned at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

> How good is KOffice when it comes to bugs?

Pretty good. We have some of the best bugs around.

By JohnFlux at Mon, 2005/04/04 - 5:00am

Hey! He could have mentioned KChart that goes nicely along with KSpread. That would have been nice to show in the article as well.

By Inge Wallin at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

Are you sure it would've been a good idea to mention KChart? Have you ever used it? I tried to do some simple things, like creating a chart from columns, which is IMPOSSIBLE! I had to reformat my data to be in rows in order to create a chart. Then I thought I could print my charts... Ha! The chart appeared somewhere in the middle of my sheet, covered up some data, and was the size of a thumbnail. In short, KChart can be made to look nice in an example but is otherwise unusable! In case you wonder, there are bug reports about the stuff I mentioned but KChart is more or less abandonware, I don't think anybody is working on it and it's just over my head to fix these problems. I had to switch to Openoffice Calc eventually.

By ac at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

I think that if you go into bugzilla and look up KChart you will find a completely different story. I have been fixing KChart for the last couple of weeks, and it is getting really usable. It is most certainly *not* abandonware. The bug count is down to 7 bugs now and shrinking steadily. Things are looking good for the upcoming release of KOffice 1.4.

Btw, it's funny that you mention the rows vs. columns issue. I commited the final fix for that just 10 minutes ago. :-)

But if you only look at the 1.3 series, I can understand how you feel.

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Just want to say: thanks for your work! =)

By ca at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

I didn't realize that somebody picked up KChart, I tried it last year. Many thanks for your work and I'm looking forward to KOffice 1.4! I'll definitely give KChart another shot then (OOo is just so slooowww). Please also make sure that charts can be printed properly! That was the thing which finally drove me to OOo.


By ac at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Will do.

In fact, I wasn't aware of the problem until you mentioned it here. However, I suspect that it is a problem with KSpread, not KChart. KChart just prints into the area that it receives. I will try to make sure it works, wherever the problem lies.

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Thanks for your (and all the others) dedication to improve our favorite office suite. Keep it up, it's everybody's gain.

By Hugo Rodrigues at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

> Btw, it's funny that you mention the rows vs. columns issue. I commited the
> final fix for that just 10 minutes ago. :-)

?? Koffice 1.4 has been nearly unusable until 10 minutes before?

Probably the version number is a off-by-one-bug, too, maybe it should read 0.4 ;-)

But hey, even the chartengine of Openoffice does suck very badly, so Koffice shlould be quite comparable (oh, sorry, "komparable") to Openoffice.

By Xedsa at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Well, KOffice 1.4 is not out yet. The current official release is 1.3.5, and I think the version number of the code in CVS is 1.3-post.

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Hey, feel free to post a KChart article/review/showcase on the dot! Or maybe you could try to get someone to do it for you.

By Navindra Umanee at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Maybe I will. But I think a better time would be after the release of KOffice 1.4. No time now.

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Application screenshots should be taken with English screen language to be understandable for a bigger audience.

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/03/07 - 6:00am

Oops, the screenshots for the English version are in German :o)

By ac at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

"Usted los amercians que cogen es toda la cogida iguales,,," (-:

By Anónimo at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Was sagst du da? (-:

By Anonymer Nutzer at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Azt se tudom milyen nyelven mondta... =)

By Gábor Lehel at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Lägg av nu, va. Skriv så man begriper!

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Daar versta ik dus helemaal niets van!

By Andre Somers at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

C'est bon, vous pouvez arrêter là, on a compris.

By jmfayard at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Égua da putaria, macho...

By Taupter at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

jIH ghaj ghobe' prala vaD KDE.

By Evan "JabberWok... at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Kakvi su ovo čudni jezici ovdje?

By KOffice Fan at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji nowego roku...

By MacBerry at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

Es pot saber qué collons esteu diguent? Òstia!

From Carcaixent. spain

By rotovator at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

Quem é o filho da puta que começou a merda desta discussão?

By portuguese at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

Duh, pada ngomong apa ya? Aku gak ngerti.

By Indonesian at Tue, 2005/03/15 - 6:00am

Although I can't use KOffice for much of what I do due to compatibility reasons with other places I use computers, I love to see it progressing so well. When OpenOffice was released, it seemed likely that the competing open-source office suites would just die away, which would have been a huge shame. OpenOffice is only a clone of MS-Office and doesn't seem to have much hope of growing beyond that. Also, OpenOffice is wildly slow, especially on load times. KOffice has been built right from the ground-up and is staying snappy and easy to use as it adds features, rather than bloating as other office suites have.

Only a year ago, KSpread was, as far as I was concerned, completely unusable due to bugs, crashiness, and featurelessness. Now, it's approaching the point where I can just open it up and get working on whatever I need to. Thanks for all the great work!

By jameth at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Koffice 1.4 appears promising, at least until OOo 2.0 :p Seriously though, will KOffice 1.4 be in KDE 3.4? Sure has a nice ring to it :)

By Al at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

From what I hear, they upped the Java in OOo 2.0

I'm looking at a switch to KOffice...

By Joe Lorem at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Reading the interview, it is clarified (that otherwise is obvious regarding the bug history for last two years) that L.Montel is not a maintainer of Kspread. In the interview, there is no words about Kspread. He is neither focusing nor slightly interested in Kspread.
Yes I know, he is engaged with other parts of Koffice and with Linux in general. I appreciate his other works. But let say clearly: Koffice hasn't had a true maintainer for the last few years.
Unfortunately, Kspread in the stage more or less, how it was born. It is a great promise but nothing more. It is full of primitive bugs and of simple feature lacks. If one gives a try for Kspread, will leave it very soon because it is not suitable for daily usage.
To make it clear: I like Kspread. And use (but dislike) OOo in my work. (That is reading data columns; creating charts after simple manipulation on them).

Recently Inge Wallin has taken the charge of Kspread (as it is visible in the bug statistics). It is highly wellcomed that there, finally, is someone who fixes (sometimes 3 years old) bugs. I would have a warning to the developer: the big flow of bug reports will raise after the point the Kspread quality reach the usability level and a lot of people begin to use it.
I am interestingly waiting if one person's effort is enough to improve significantly such a complex program as Kspread.
My full respect to Inge, who is the current maintainer.

By devians at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Regarding the interview, I think you are a bit unfair to Laurel. He answers the questions from the interviewer, and they are not all of them focused on KSpread. To say that he is not interested in KSpread is of course ridiculous. I can only assume that you used stronger words here than you actually intended.

When you say that I have taken charge of KSpread, I assume that you mean KChart. I have not done much job on KSpread. I actually tried to start with fixing KSpread bugs, but the code base was simply too big to get an easy grasp on, so I had to start out with something smaller, i.e. KChart. I will go back to KSpread, though, once KChart is in a workable shape.

(At this point, I think I will make a wish: Please create a simple document that describes the classes in KSpread, and how they interact. I don't mean proper class documenation; just something that very superficially describes what each of the main classes is supposed to do. I did something similar for Kreversi in kdegames when I tried to figure that program out, and it helped me tremendously when working on the program.)

Back to the main topic. There is one thing that I fully agree with you on: The tendency of many developers to focus on new features instead of fixing bugs. For me, a powerful program with many bugs is worse than a smaller program that works well. I hate to see a program with lots and lots of small, unnecessary bugs. I try to attack the simplest one first, and then continue from there. That is how I started out with KChart, and that is how I will tackle KSpread.

To be fair to the KSpread people, there _are_ a lot of bugs that look simple on the surface, but that actually are pretty difficult to fix. There is currently a big rewrite of the internals going on to make KSpread faster, use less memory and be more scalable. Such a big rewrite of the internals make the surface (the visible parts) suffer, as it were, but in the long run it is necessary. But still, I think that there are a number of irritating bugs that should simply be fixed before any attempts are done to do other things.

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

In addition the interview did not mention that Laurent has done most of the work with moving the whole KOffice to the OASIS format.

By Morty at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Thanks for your reply.
>you used stronger words here than you actually intended.<
You may be right. Perhaps the introduction exagerated me, being misleading. My intention was not to blame Laurel. It is possible that he was forced to be a maintainer, in the lack of other person who could effort more time to Kspread in the last few years.
Instead, I wanted to illuminate the painful state of Kspread.

Turning to more enjoyable points: the question if fixing a bug is simple or not, depend on the fact, how familiar you are with the code. Sometimes a really simple change takes you several days or weeks, if first you have to 'learn' the code and find the proper location of interaction. I used the word simply in the sense that 'looks simple'. There are obviously hard bugs whose fixing involves the 'treating' of several parts of the code.

I was glad to read, that some rewriting is in progress in the background.

By devians at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

OpenOffice 2.0 series is a giant leap.

KSpread: When will it adopt the OO-fileformat as default?


From a user perspective I think what really matters for users are nice document templates for everyday business, not special features.

I would like to see a kde-template community emerge just as kde-look and kde-apps. What users makes happy are birthday greeting cards printing solutions. What users make stick to a program are useful documents you cannot live without.

By gerd at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

KSpread: When will it adopt the OO-fileformat as default?

IMHO: Import/Export should be enough, otherwise you may be forced to include same features as OO, at the same time they are included there, On the other hand, if you want to include a feature, you would require OO to include it... this can be crazy.

By Philippe Fremy at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

That's been decided a long time ago. It's just a question of when the move will be completed.

It's not the (old) OOo file format but the one standardised at OASIS. Both OpenOffice and KOffice developers have worked together defining it. I don't think either project wants to make proprietary extensions to the format. But still, the point you bring up is an interesting one. I wonder how this common format will work out with respect to unimplemented features in either of the office suites.

By cm at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

> Import/Export should be enough

Take example of a person X, who don't know much about computers but uses Linux (with KDE and KOffice as default). He creates a documents (in default file format) and sends it to his friend who dont know Linux. Since KOffice does not work with windows/MacOS, his friend will never be able to view the document.

On the other hand, OASIS is a more widely accepted standard. I think, KOffice should use OASIS file format as default.

By nilesh at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

Ahh! the famous made up usercase of the imbecile users, always a winner. But let us now tie this to the real world please. The windows/MacOS user who gets documents she/he cannot open will send a reply to our Linux using friend informing him of the fact(In the case she/he are actually interrested in what the person sent in the first place). If our friend need to get the information to his friend, he will most likely try to find out a way to do so. He will then discover either how to print as pdf or how to save as a format his friend can access, in the process learning something and then becoming a user not usable in this kinds of examples.

On the other hand, OASIS will not do any difference, since most likely the friend on windows/MacOS does not have anything installed to deal with that format either. With MS-office still being the "standard" office application for windows/MacOS users, and MS-office does not do OASIS. Being "a more widely accepted standard" does not make MS-office handle it any better than KOffice documents.

By Morty at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

I recently had to mail a jobbing printer an image of a cross for a funeral card; I mailed it as .jpg and .eps. The printer mailed me back that they couldn't open it and could I just resend it as a Word document? I swallowed all my pride (in view of the melancholy occasion) and created a Word document with the image inline. In KWord. They could read it... Other Windows users have sent me panicky mails that there was something binary in my mails that they couldn't read and was it a virus? It was my digital signature...

So, you're right, even the most clueless of Windows users will mail you back telling you they cannot open your attachment. And in the end, the only they'll know how to open is a Word document.

By Boudewijn Rempt at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am

MS does not do OASIS, well what about an import filter for MSOffice? As far as I knoe MS-programs are extensible

By Jakob at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

MS stated that they want to support OASIS. So I hope we'll see OASIS filter built into the next version of MS Office.

By birdy at Wed, 2005/03/09 - 6:00am

There is only one thing that is keeping me from using Kspread right now. I don't even know what the feature is called, but it works in both Gnumeric and

My parts supplier sends me price lists in xls format, and for a few parts there will be a cell that has a little arrow in the corner. If I hold the mouse over this arrow, a little balloon help thingy will open up giving me some extra information. On my parts lists it is usually useful stuff like promotions (Buy 5 get 1 free, free Targus case with laptop). With KSpread I miss this information, so I am stuck with Gnumeric's great functionality and truly HIDEOUS file dialogs.


By mark at Tue, 2005/03/08 - 6:00am