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VBA Macros Update

OpenOffice IconAs I previously mentioned in my post about VBA macros, you gotta love a guy like Michael Meeks. However, I’ve recently learned that you also gotta love Novell’s Noel Power, since he’s doing much of the work at Novell on VBA macro support in the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org. The amount of work these guys have already done will go a long way to improving OpenOffice. That is, of course, dependent on if/when this massive code contribution gets accepted into the upstream version. (Michael expresses some concern that the folks at Sun may be too caught up with their own work in this area to review Novell’s submission.)

Since that first post on this subject, several people have submitted macros for the team to test. When I started this, I wondered how long before the team would ask me to back it off a bit, but so far they tell me to keep ‘em comin’. So, if you find macros that don’t work in the Novell Edition of OpenOffice on SLED10, let me know! It’s still thaeger at my company’s name .com. (Please include “VBA Macro” somewhere in the title.)

Yesterday, Michael sent me an email with a spreadsheet attached showing the list of functions that the team are now working on integrating. It’s a solid list, and I really respect their process. Rather than run the fool’s errand of parsing the entire VBA language, the team is taking a more parsimonious route. They’re using community- and customer-submitted macros to determine which VBA features/functions we currently support inadequately (or not at all). According to their apparent frequency of usage, the team is first taking on the parts in which they can make the biggest impact (most likely weighed against development effort to complete, of course).

The best part of the file Michael sent to me was that the data was formatted into a “Data Pilot,” which is OpenOffice’s analog to the Microsoft Excel “pivot table.” Data pilots, as well as support for xls pivot tables, is a whole new feature area in OpenOffice.org that I really ought to post something about, too. (So many features, so little time.)

As an interesting side phenomenon, many Macintosh community members were recently alarmed to learn that apparently Microsoft has made some kind of announcement about Microsoft stating that they may be dropping support for VBA macros in Excel on Mac. That linked many Mac users over to my blog post, and produced a couple more macro submissions. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the Mac. It’s a great platform. (In fact, I survived my college years using an old Mac XL. That’s right, a converted Lisa!) These Mac users now see OpenOffice as a potential salvation to Microsoft’s abandoning them. Yet another reason for open source, methinks. Again, I hope that Sun are not so distracted by fixing their proprietary VBA support that they can take a look at integrating Novell’s patches up‑stream.

[22Aug06 Update: Noel Power provides some answers on macro security.]

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11 Responses

  1. Knowing the ROI for this is limit to almost nothing, having Novell put some resources behind a fully Mac OS X supported OpenOffice offering in the Workgroup Suite would be very benificial for many school and various businesses.

  2. Bryan:
    Right you are on that. I do not know of any effort to port the Novell Edition of OOo to MacOS at this point. I suppose that’s another reason why why acceptance into OOo upstream is so important. Nevertheless, I’ll mention the idea to Rick Fowler, PM for OWS.
    –T

  3. Hey Ted,

    “These Mac users now see OpenOffice as a potential salvation to Microsoft’s abandoning them.”

    Perhaps you should read/quote this part of his blog post:”Many people have viewed this announcement by MacBU as a sign that we are out to screw the Mac community, or that we’re just looking for an exit strategy. We’re not. Most empatically, we’re not. This decision was agonizing. My manager even said he felt ’sick about the impact on those who really rely on xplat [cross-platform] VB support, particularly in Excel where we see it the most.’” rather than adding to the hyperbole.

  4. Hey, Tim:
    What part of my statement was incorrect? I never said that there were not caring people involved in the decision. But, the decision is what it is, isn’t it?
    –T

  5. Howdy Ted,

    Are these incremental updates already in the repositories for OpenSuse and SLED?

    Cheers

  6. Are you guys going to do anything about security? Will you retrofit a carefully considered security model (like Java has) into VBA? Will you support digital signatures to help users decide whether to execute a particular document/program? How will you avoid importing VBA trojans and viruses to OO?

  7. [...] A comment on my recent VBA Macros update asks several questions about security for macros in OpenOffice.org. [...]

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