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Microsoft Businesses Apple

Microsoft drops VBA in Mac Office 2007 374

slashdotwriter writes "Macworld features an article stating that the next version of Office for the Mac will not include Visual Basic scripting. From the article: 'Microsoft Office isn't among the apps that will run natively on Intel-based Macs — and it won't be until the latter half of 2007, according to media reports. But when it does ship, Office will apparently be missing a feature so vital to cross-platform compatibility that I believe it will be the beginning of the end for the Mac version of the productivity suite...'"
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Microsoft drops VBA in Mac Office 2007

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  • by ctid ( 449118 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:32AM (#17184474) Homepage
    The problem is for companies which run MS Office on Windows and want to switch. It doesn't matter that there are lots of good scripting languages on the Mac if your company already uses a lot of VBA scripts on Windows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:33AM (#17184480)
    Interesting decision to be making Word less compatible now as Mac market share grows ... not that VBA is something I particularly want to see proliferate.
  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deadhammer ( 576762 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:33AM (#17184490)
    Everyone, pool your mod points and give 'em to this guy. I always found it ridiculous that OpenOffice has to run on an X session, it always seemed like a horrible kludge to me, especially getting printing to work. If we can get OpenOffice running natively and smoothly, and soon, we can give Office Mac users a real alternative that's not only free (which is something that Mac users aren't used to), but also high quality and works well enough to easily replace it.
  • Virus anyone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:36AM (#17184500)
    Well, here goes the platform where all of the "real" Mac OS X viruses are born. Now only remains concepts and supposedly fud viruses.
  • by Slithe ( 894946 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:38AM (#17184520) Homepage Journal
    I think the problem is that some users have code that depends on VBA, and they want it for compatibility reasons. Cedega is (somewhat) popular, not because DirectX is superior to Linux alternatives, but because many computer games depend on it.
  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:41AM (#17184536) Journal
    Office will apparently be missing a feature so vital to cross-platform compatibility that I believe it will be the beginning of the end for the Mac version of the productivity suite...

    And in other news, Open Office is getting that same feature, for which contribution Novell is being roundly denounced for conspiring with Microsoft to bring about the end of open-source software.

  • Re:bah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:43AM (#17184564)
    Use openoffice and export to PDF, stick it on a usb drive. That way if the pres is large it will still render, and more importantly, if your laptop doesn't work with the setup another may and your pdf will render there...

    I r smrt.

  • Entourage is a great mail program, unless you want to use it to talk to an Exchange server. As an Exchange client, it sucks.

    I have clients who still run Classic exclusively so they can use Outlook 2001. The Exchange support in Entourage has been so shameful for so long (they've taken YEARS and still haven't achieved feature parity with Outlook 2001) that I really have a hard time believing it's not a deliberate move to thwart Mac use in the enterprise.

    The same goes for this move. Microsoft makes a TON of money selling Mac Office, and with the Mac market growing and Microsoft standing to see a Mac Office sales increase as a result, it's not like they can't afford the development costs.

    These actions only make sense from an anticompetitive standpoint. There's no other logical explanation.

  • Re:Virus anyone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:47AM (#17184600)
    The V in VBA is for virus, or so I always thought. I'm glad to hear it go. MOST users don't use it. it shoul dbe off by default. it's a macro virus waiting to happen just like Active scripts in IE were.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:51AM (#17184640) Journal
    VBA is a curse from Microsoft causing all sorts of trojan risks, until it's dropped. Then it's a serious problem. Figures.
  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deadhammer ( 576762 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:07PM (#17184746)
    Indeed. Saw it after my post (poster's regret, and all) and thought it was a grand old idea. Now if the OOo team can just officially support that and make that the new version of OOo for Mac, instead of the ugly hack they have going right now, I'll have plenty of hope for the future.
  • So assuming MS indeed drops VB, what are they going to use for their macros now ?

    I'd wager C++ or C#. Or, more likely, just any "dot-net" language. It's currently a pain to write C# code to automate Office, but if Office became "native .NET", there wouldn't be that problem.
  • by ThinkingInBinary ( 899485 ) <thinkinginbinary.gmail@com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:10PM (#17184764) Homepage
    I always found it ridiculous that OpenOffice has to run on an X session, it always seemed like a horrible kludge to me, especially getting printing to work.

    I've always found it ridiculous how Mac users don't like running cross-platform applications under X. X is a standard for windowing on *nix systems, even if it's old and a little broken. If it's such a big deal, why doesn't Apple integrate Aqua and X better? And in terms of printing, Mac OS X uses CUPS, which is the same thing most people use on Linux.

  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:13PM (#17184802)
    Everyone, pool your mod points and give 'em to this guy.

    It just takes 3 people to mod someone up to 5... If you think about it, that's why there are so many lame 5 point posts.
  • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:23PM (#17184886)
    I've always found it ridiculous how Mac users don't like running cross-platform applications under X. X is a standard for windowing on *nix systems, even if it's old and a little broken.

    seems you answered your own question.

  • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:25PM (#17184910)
    Excel users will notice, oh Lord will they notice
  • by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <jimNO@SPAMmmdc.net> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:35PM (#17184996) Homepage
    Fortunately, with Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop, and the forthcoming VMWare Fusion, new Mac users are feeling increasingly comfortable with Mac purchases, because they know that they can run Windows if they really need to, but often find they don't need it as much as they thought they did.

    Yep, Windows is the new Classic.

    After a week, you'll figure out a way not to need it.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:39PM (#17185032)
    Does anyone still think that the appeals court was right in reversing Judge Jackson's decision? Did anyone expect that Microsoft would behave any differently? I would hope the oversight committee is paying attention, but they're probably they're too busy enjoying a new Ferrari or two. Seriously, it's been said for years that had there been no Apple, Microsoft would have found it necessary to invent one ... but that assumed Apple's market share stayed insignificant. If Apple starts to erode Microsoft's customer base in any substantial way, Microsoft will take steps. This is probably just the first salvo.

    But yeah, VBA is something the world should be able to live without.
  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:45PM (#17185062)
    the Vista license clearly prevents you from legitimately installing on a virtual machine.
    No it doesn't. The Vista Home(s) EULA's do, but there are other editions then just Home.
  • by Millenniumman ( 924859 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:46PM (#17185070)
    No, it isn't. Pages might be designed more towards page layout than pure word processing, but it is easy to use and having nice looking documents doesn't bother anyone. No, it doesn't compete with Quark, but neither does Word.

    What iWork needs is a spreadsheet application, and possibly a database program.

    The MacWorld Expo is coming soon.
  • by ichief ( 1038054 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:46PM (#17185072) Homepage
    And this is why I believe one of the biggest mistakes the U.S. Justice Department made when handling Microsoft's antitrust case was deciding to leave the company intact, rather than splitting the company into 3 (OS, Office, Entertainment). Now, instead of seeing independent and smart business decisions being made in their productivity and entertainment suites to help them grow, they will continue to be boil down to one final parameter: Does it help the Windows unit hold onto its grasp on the PC market? And worst of all, the consumers suffer by not being able to play their Windows Media DRM'd music in other operating systems to continuing to reap innovations in the Office suite.

    I believe Palm made a smart move splitting the hardware and software components; now, instead of allowing the Palm devices to fall behind due to unparalleled support of the operating system, they can adapt to market demands. Apple also made one of the smartest move in the company's history by opening up the iPod and iTunes to both Windows and Mac computers. Come on Microsoft, grow up.
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:52PM (#17185122) Homepage Journal
    Just tell your CIO "Hey we can reimplement this as a web based form application that will do the same thing but in a centralized and easily maintained location that all employees regardless of OS can utilize... AND we can generate stats, reports from those stats AND ensure that all employees are using the latest most up to date calculations."

    Problem solved. Long live the Intranet.

  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:01PM (#17185204) Homepage
    When do home users ever read or pay attention to EULAs? And businesses won't run the home edition, so they'll be able to run it in a VM just fine...

  • by dal20402 ( 895630 ) * <dal20402@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:23PM (#17185344) Journal

    and the old stuff runs fine under Rosetta.

    Powerpoint barely runs at all under Rosetta.

    Excel takes six or seven bounces to launch. Not acceptable on up-to-the-minute hardware.

    Word eats 7%-10% cpu sitting idle. Doesn't help the battery life when you're writing on the road.

    NeoOffice, while a great tool to have around, is so poorly optimized that it's barely faster native than MS Office is under Rosetta (sometimes slower).

    Back to the topic... this move by MS is part of a continued effort to prevent Macs from making any inroads into the corporate space, which is MS's most lucrative market. After the next release of Mac Office, the consumers/educational types/etc. will be thrilled -- it will probably look gorgeous, run fast, etc. But business users, most of whom have brain-dead VBA cruft to deal with, will have no choice but to run Windows Office somehow... which involves a license of Windows, at least until CodeWeavers is able to make Office versions newer than 2000 run under Crossover Mac.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:25PM (#17185368) Homepage
    Seriously, I haven't seen many VBA scripts in Word or Excel documents. They might have existed a few years ago, but now we have MySQL, PostgreSQL for free or Sybase, Oracle and a slew of other databases that can contain more data better and for automation we have PHP, Java, Python and Ruby. I have seen once or twice a VBA script in an Excel document and the fact that it was utterly bad scripting made me aware that you don't let bookkeepers create scripts but you should have real programmers take care of that.
  • Re:bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vought ( 160908 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:55PM (#17185622)
    When the file hits 70megs it starts to hit a crawl.

    This is a big problem for the few long document writers who use Macs. Long Word documents on the Mac take forever to open - tables render slowly, repagination consumes 180% of my CPU, and making changes at the end of a complex 400-page document is an exercise in frustration on a 4.5GB RAM/Dual 2.5GHz G5 - twenty seconds from "Save" to response.

    Once, Framemaker on Macs and Solaris machines were what Technical Writers used - period. Over the years, the lowest-common-denominator mentality of corporate purchasing has taken over - and Adobe has handed Microsoft a huge gift by killing the Mac version of FrameMaker, forcing Mac writers to use Word.

    The end result has been that most new companies - those without established Tech Pubs departments - use Word for everything. It's been my experience that the younger the Tech Pubs manager is, the less inclined they are to use FrameMaker - because it's "teh hard". Unfortunately for tech writers and their audiences, Frame still is the most complete and usable tool for long documents - but it's on the way out.

    Now, documents from HR manuals to API references to microprocessor manuals are written in Word, which has barfed up anything over about forty ages for over a decade now. Seriously - Microsoft has never fixed the corrupted save and document recovery bugs that 95% of users never experience - because you'll only see the problem when you create long, complex documents.

    When working on a recent assignment for a Group that shall remain nameless, I spent most of my time trying to work around Word's limitations. I asked the SME about the source material - did he have problems like mine when using Word on his company-issued top-flight PC? "Yes." Would they consider using Framemaker for their next document? "I don't have time to learn a new program" said the scientist.

    Keep in mind, I spent ten of sixty billable hours just trying to get Word to process words. Ostensibly, this is what it's designed to do, but this decade-plus-old program still cannot handle long documents with lots of graphics. Microsoft was busy doing other things, like churning out ten versions of DirectX and the Zune - other products that extend and extinguish.

    I'm not asking for a lot. We're talking about a 400-page document with lots of tables, few graphics, and fewer than twenty styles. This would be among the medium-sized documents that FrameMaker could open in 1-2 seconds. In Word, on a Dual G5, it takes over four minutes to completely open the document, because Word insists on repaginating every time you look askance. then, after about ten-fifteen Saves, Word barfs. Sometimes, the only way you can get the document back is to open the .odc, immediately Copy the contents, and paste it into a new document - which fixes the crashing problem for another 10-15 saves.

    This isn't a document-specific or release-specific problem. I've wasted time on this with several recent versions of Word - on the Mac and PC - and with several similar documents. The problem will likely never be fixed. And because of Adobe's shortsightedness and Microsoft's LCD mentality, the only real alternative is LaTex - a very complex solution to what should be an easy problem. Frame was the ideal, but Adobe dutifully did the most stupid thing possible and killed it on the Mac. I wouldn't mind using Frame on the PC, but as I said above, most of the assignments I take on as a contract technical writer come to me in Word.

    Tying this into the VBA-less Mac version of Office, it's clear that Microsoft IS trying to force the professionals who insist on using Macs off the platform. Just as they've convinced the memo-writers in corporate IT that Word on any platform is perfectly suitable for the Tech Pubs department, they slowly reduce the options available to users, costing companies time and money that goes unnoticed and untabulated in the TCO equation.

    Office for Mac development costs them next to nothing,
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:58PM (#17185640) Homepage Journal

    Open Office is getting that same feature, for which contribution Novell is being roundly denounced for conspiring with Microsoft to bring about the end of open-source software.

    If the "feature" is free, no one will denounce them for it. When I see it in the Debian repositories, I'll know it's free and commend them for the contribution. Apple users will thank them too. If they had to sign NDA's and can't distribute it, then it's just another M$ owned prop for a non-free annoyance that should be left to die. If they are using such non free props to promote their distribution, they have indeed sold the free software community out.

  • by Metzli ( 184903 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:13PM (#17185774)
    This sounds interesting, but is it truly a usable idea? Most of the folks who I've seen use macros wouldn't be comfortable with and/or capable of writing such an application. This means that the responsibility for creating, maintaining, and supporting this would likely fall to the web development or programming groups. They likely have the talent to do this, but do they have the manpower to do this in a reasonable timeframe? The business folks are used to creating this stuff as needed and having it done. This new method would require them to decide exactly what they want, open a request with the group to create it, have QA check out the app, and then it would be released to them. Don't get me wrong, I think this is the right thing to do for important things (budgets, strategic projections, HR benefits enrollment, etc.), but it's not necessarily feasible in today's business environment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:17PM (#17185802)
    "X applications do not use the..."

    Few write for "X" (x.org) they actually write for gtk+, kde-libs, or opengl? and such. Many (expecially kde-libs) of these desktop libraries provide very standardized widgets and shortcuts. Most of these shortcuts are exactly like those on Windows.

    I don't really understand what you mean by navigation shortcuts to widgets so if you can explain further...

    Anyway, things like native look and feel, and unique position of the menubar (which I still dislike after years of use) fall into the realm of the theme engine and the window manager. Here is a example to show that it _could_ be done...
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=241868 [ubuntuforums.org]

    "Drag and drop..."

    I think this is also a desktop library thing and for me it works great. I use kmail which is a KDE application; I run Xfce as my desktop and D&D files from my file browser to new emails all the time. These are applications using TWO completely different desktop libraries but they do D&D amazingly well. But I agree that this area needs to be worked on. There are certain times the action taken is predictable but different from the expected.

    "X11 applications don't have access to text services..."

    I will give you this one. I like this feature in OSX, and haven't found a true equivalent in either Windows or Linux. I think this level of cooperation between applications is something you will easily get in one vendor environments and is extremely slow to develop in scattered systems like open source.

    "All the shortcut keys are wrong in X11..."

    This is matter of opinion, and personally, I have found the Mac shortcuts to be a PAIN. I like the Windows and KDE shortcuts far better. Especially for Windows, there is much more standardization in third party apps. For the core Mac applications, it is amazing, but it totally falls apart when you leave these applications. I hate developing with Dreamweaver and such for Mac. For me it boils down to shortcut-to-expected action without thought, and it is far better in the Windows realm than Mac. In Mac, I always need to think "ok, what application am I using..." It only takes a microsecond longer, but when I am using 4-5 applications each with 2-5 windows, it ends up being equivalent to using the mouse.

    Ok, to summarize, what Apple really needs to do is develop their own theme engine and window manager for kde/gtk. Also, they can provide a translation layer for D&D to and from kde/gtk applications. This will solve 80% of your issues. Apple is closed source, therefore, they are in a much better position to make such software; they owe it to their customer base. There are open source projects that do much of this, but they can never get to the level that Apple can, and you can't expect too much from them as they are developing for a very small market.

    Personally, I use Mac, Windows, and Gentoo Linux. I use OSX the least, but have used it for the last 2 years. I find it very... pleasant to use for things like browsing, essays, and image development. I like Linux for programming and cross platform application development. Windows, kind of falls somewhere in between leaning toward Linux. Overall, basic things are great on the Mac, but more complicated things are irritating to do, and the "obviousness" type stuff actually gets in the way of multitasking and feature access.
  • Re:bah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CoolMoDee ( 683437 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:21PM (#17185834) Homepage Journal
    Yes, keynote can import and export powerpoint documents. I used it this past week for school and had powerpoint backup files all over the place just incase something happened. After using Keynote, it is impossible to go back to Powerpoint - it just doesn't work the way a presentation program should.
  • Who uses it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:30PM (#17185926) Homepage Journal
    I think the beta reaction instead of "wah, WTF?", should be what percentage of users actually make use of the VBA portion of office? Also, isn't Microsoft slowly migrating to C# as their high-level language of choice?
  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:42PM (#17186030) Homepage
    "It's very much a Mac program. Native fonts, copy-and-paste, printing, Aqua interface..."

    You mean other than, apparently, not using the men bar?
  • Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swalters1 ( 1008477 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:38PM (#17186442)
    I'm actually wondering about this decission and if it has far more to do with Mac's unwillingness to work with Microsoft to support .NET apps on their platform, deciding instead to only support JavaVM and their own systems.

    Why am I thinking that? As a .NET programer I had a chance to work with Office 2007 and one of the first things I noticed was that VBA was being superceeded in the suite by a "VB.NET" system instead. Not a big deal for me, or most VBa users since the format, structures and commands are fairly simliar. But VB.net allows more interconnectivity and function than the older VBa engine ever could. ((Yes that's good and bad when you consider macrovirus issues))

    Anyway, just a thought, and I'm interested to hear what other people think. I know that porting the VBa engine in Office 2007 would have been much simpliar for the programing group if Mac had .NET support (and yes there are .NET engine for certain *nix distros and ones that support WinForms) So please comment, I'd like to hear any reasonable comments that do not contain the usual "Why would they want to do that? Support something MS created? That's just giving MS more control" or the other "Mac is just better... install linux...etc comments." but a real valid comment on the thought.

    Thanks Mac people!
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:47PM (#17186526)
    The next version of Pages, according to sources, will introduce two specialized modes for layout and word-processing. Apple apparently plans to adopt Pages for all its internal documentation needs. Apple doesn't need to approach the level of functionality in Office, as the majority of people only use a tenth of what Office offers anyway. If they can make a decent Word alternative for most people, that's good enough.
  • by Mattintosh ( 758112 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @04:08PM (#17186662)
    Why use a button? Excel has these amazing things called "formulas". I've made some amazingly disgusting ones in my time. Like this one:

    =IF(AND($A$5"",VLOOKUP(YEAR($A$5)&TEXT(MONTH($A$5) ,"00")&TEXT(DAY($A$5),"00")&$B10&"2",SomeOtherShee tName,2,0)0),VLOOKUP(YEAR($A$5)&TEXT(MONTH($A$5)," 00")&TEXT(DAY($A$5),"00")&$B10&"2",SomeOtherSheetN ame,2,0),"")

    In pseudo-Java style, that looks something like this:

    Cell a5 = new Cell("A", "5");
    Cell b10 = new Cell("B", "10");
    CellData lookup;
    String lookupTag;

    if(a5.contents != null)
        lookupTag = ((Date)a5.getCellData()).getYear() + (((Date)a5.getCellData()).getMonth()).format("00") + (((Date)a5.getCellData()).getDay()).format("00") + b10.getCellData() + "2";
        lookup = CellData.vlookup(lookupTag, "SomeOtherSheetName", 2, 0);
        if(lookup != null)
            return lookup;
    return null;

    This looks up (for example) 2006121042 (the B10 values are 1,2,3,4,BH,SQ), in a "database" in a different sheet (named "SomeOtherSheetName" in this case). It checks if the value of the lookup is not 0 (null number), as well as if A5 is "" (null string). If it passes this check, the value of this cell is the value of the lookup. If it fails this check, the value is "" (null string).

    Nasty as it is, the Excel function is certainly more compact than any language is going to be. It also has this habit of updating automatically in realtime, which is "the right way". Correct data should never rely on user input.

    And just to allay the fears of those who retched at this, this is a temporary implementation (to stop the bleeding), and a replacement using MAPP (Mac, Apache, Postgres, PHP) is on track to replace this nastiness within two months.
  • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @04:21PM (#17186734)

    There's nothing wrong with those things at all. They're just not part of the default OS X gui.

    Your second sentence contradicts your first. Look, Mac users expect a consistent, good looking gui. OpenOffice will not be popular on the Mac unless it looks like a Mac App. Heck, a lot of Carbon-based Apps are looked down upon because they do not look as good as the Cocoa Apps.

    This is a golden opportunity for OpenOffice, but if the attitude that non-native UI isn't a big deal, then I don't have high hopes.

  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @04:44PM (#17186894) Homepage Journal
    I'll probably get flamebait or troll for this but, what the hell? So far I've got enough karma, so I must not be pissing off the saner of the modders (yet)...

    How QUICK is NeoOffice? Is it faster than OOo is on Linux? ON my box, OOo takes up to 1.5 minutes to get its ass away, just to get to a blank screen. And, no, I don't run that little cheat/kudge quick-start thing. And this is with a MINIMUM of anything else open. Even Win4Lin 4.x is not invoked at this point. But, since Lotus SmartSuite from 1986-2002 can start Word Pro in under 8 seconds in Win4Lin in windoze 98 in 256 MB of shared ram, on an 6 and on a 128 MB card, in 700, 800 and 900 MHz systems, then why the hell is OOo still taking forEVER? OOo has been around for years, and has had at least 1 or 2 major code shifts, and still relies on a few gimmicks to appear to run faster.

    When I have to download .doc docs, I just shoot them to my mydata folder and edit them in Lotus Word Pro, then shoot them back as word 97 or word 2000 format. I am not worried how it looks on the other end because so far no one has complained.

    Even when I run a RealVNC session from my semi-functional 800 MHz laptop (diskless/dead hardware controller, so no hdd functionality) box when I run Win4Lin/Win98 (it only lets me run one session at a time from one computer) on my 900 MHz fic box, the remote session across TWO thin wires between NICs is smooth, fast, and stable.

    So, how are Mac users doing so far with Neo Office? I don't own a Mac but I guess I will check by the Mac store and see if they are selling or loading or displaying it.

    Really, OOo, you ought to give up, throw in the towel, and urge IBM/Lotus and Han Office to join forces with you to clean up your code, pursue more markets, and become more nimble, more stable, and tighten up and crispen the interface.

    Fix the database to look more professional. Ditch that spreadsheet metaphor and make Base a more independent/separate-feeling app. It should have a worksheet not the spreadsheet underneath. Widgets and forms should behave like they are a separate app, not be all confusing and mimic other apps. And, take a few pages from Lotus Approach to learn how a non-engineer-necessary relational database front-end works for end users. I've built in Approach a screenplay dialog tracking application that has fewer than 120 formulas, a few dozen mostly-unused macros, and a good number of forms to manage dialog, manuscripts, and scrap dialog. I'll bet anyone trying to do this in Base will feel DEbased and go insane. (While the actual work was spread out over 2-3 years, if compressed it might be 6 months worth of work, and that is just as myself as an individual...) If only I knew how to program, I could just ditch Approach and use RealBasic or Trolltech's QT or maybe even Glade (if I can ditch that Gnome file manager paradigm...).

    Fix the word processor to more sensibly/intelligently display multi-part documents. Ditch that lame "rule" line or shoe-horn area where externally linked docs go. Put a TAB at top or bottom or side (even better, let the USER decide how their tab/scrapbook view will look...) of the workspace so that the user can ad hoc name them as documents are added to the project. The tabs should let the user format globally or individually each section's/division's page layout, footers, headers, and more. Like Lotus Word Pro does. You guys REALLY need to take a few pages out of Lotus Word Pro. IBM is Open Source friendly these days, haven't you heard? If you're going to reinvent the wheel, then be grander, bolder, and do stunning improvements or introduce NEW features, not just improve on the seen-that-done-that. If it's underwhelming or overwhelming, nobody's going to want it anyway, so why not stop the ms-mimic routine and improve FOSS with some non-ms-copy-cat features.

    But, when OOo starts up on 5 to 8 seconds without gimmicky pre-loading, and starts as fast in Linux as OOo seems to in windoze, then I can tell my browser "Open in OpenOffice.org" instead of "Save as..." to be opened in Lotus Word Pro.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @04:55PM (#17186972) Journal
    And this is why I hope you never design an application I need to use. A good UI is not about looking pretty, it is about being easy to use. It is about requiring the minimum in key presses or mouse movements to perform a particular action. It is about needing the smallest amount of thinking to be able to do something, because you learned how to use one application that conforms to the UI standards, and can apply that knowledge to every other application. It's about applications integrating with each other seamlessly, so the user doesn't have to ever think 'how do I get this to talk to that?'

    Choosing function over form means choosing a good user interface. Choosing form over function means choosing a pretty theme for a bad user interface.

  • by swalters1 ( 1008477 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @05:16PM (#17187130)
    Good point, but that works both ways. If Mac isn't going to support .NET why would Microsoft want to continue product support for a product that only "half" works on OSX because it's lacking .NET support?

    I know it's a catch 22, because neither side wants to work with the other, it's more of a "if I have to..." kind of association. I'm more curious to know if MS would want to continue supporting OSX at all if they have to limit what the programs can do because of a lack of .NET support, or if Mac would be willing to support the API if it meant full support for macros, etc in Office for Mac

  • by BeerCat ( 685972 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:22PM (#17187538) Homepage

    =IF(AND($A$5"",VLOOKUP(YEAR($A$5)&TEXT(MONTH($A$5) ,"00")&TEXT(DAY($A$5),"00")&$B10&"2",SomeOtherShee tName,2,0)0),VLOOKUP(YEAR($A$5)&TEXT(MONTH($A$5)," 00")&TEXT(DAY($A$5),"00")&$B10&"2",SomeOtherSheetN ame,2,0),"")

    Call that a formula? It may be long, but it's still fairly simple. When you want to check what value someone was given in another experiment, and (for convenience) give the explanation, it gets a bit more complicated (but still simple enough to do as a formula)
    =VLOOKUP(VLOOKUP(A3,OtherSheetName!A:D,4,FALSE),Ot herSheetDecode!A:B,2,FALSE)
    (put in some IF( ) parts to hide the #N/A entries, and it gets long, but still not complicated)

    On the other hand, if you want to pull dates from a whole string of text entered (and the date may be input as dd/mm/yy or dd mmm yyyy or any combination of the two), then VBA is pretty much the only way to go without making the spreadsheet even larger (and slower) than it already is.

    In short, VBA has its place, but so do formulas.
  • by Durandal64 ( 658649 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:02PM (#17187822)

    Oh yeah, because no one appreciates what the Adium [adiumx.com] guys have done with libgaim. It doesn't have a legion of users swearing by the application as the best IM client, anywhere, ever.

    Mac users appreciate native apps very, very much. Why do you think no one is worried about cannibalized Mac development now that you can run Windows natively on Macs? Because if one software vendor says, "Screw you Mac users, just use our app within Parallels", then the competition has low-hanging fruit which can be picked. If a competitor releases a native Mac application, even if it's not as featured as the Windows one, Mac users will buy it. Know why? Because it runs natively and doesn't force them into haphazard workarounds and hacks to get their work done.

    The issue here is that open source programmers may be good programmers, but they generally aren't UI designers. And if they are, they aren't Mac UI designers. So even if they write a native Mac app, it will be implemented with UI conventions from another platform. They'll overuse tabs, make every dialog modal, put the Preferences menu option in the wrong place, etc ... You often see this stuff in Qt apps on OS X. Hell, you see it in Carbon ports of old Mac applications which ran on OS 9. But the worst offenders are Java apps. Jesus god, they look and feel like ass on OS X. I hate that Azureus is the most featured BT client out there because it sucks when it's not running on Linux or Windows, where looking robotic and using tabs for everything is apparently acceptable.

  • by leonbrooks ( 8043 ) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:16PM (#17187932) Homepage
    I've had MS-Word vanish many times in mid-type on several customer machines.

    To get OO-Writer to do the same, I have to be running a cruddy video driver for an odd card, & seg-fault Writer via that.

    I alse regularly use & recommend Writer for recovering "broken" MS-Word documents.

    On a number of occasions, I've had time-critical documents shipped from the US or UK arrive unreadable in MS-Office, but read & edit fine & dandy under OpemOffice. I also ship documents in several forms, & a few times have had the recipient recover text from a Writer PDF file and use it where the Word DOC file arrived broken.

    I have not had an ODT document arrive broken, ever, and it's very rare for a Writer DOC to break.

    This has scraped documents in closely under deadlines a number of times.

    I don't see this safe method as being competed with by a pay-for system which has demonstrated its instability, and forces me to use another OS just to run it.
  • by Listen Up ( 107011 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:48PM (#17188204)
    Personally, I use Mac, Windows, and Gentoo Linux. I use OSX the least, but have used it for the last 2 years. I find it very... pleasant to use for things like browsing, essays, and image development. I like Linux for programming and cross platform application development.

    What cross-platform development? I am a full-time J2SE/J2EE developer and I develop %100 of the time in OS X. OS X is by far the best Java development platform I have ever used, especially considering that Java is a first-tier language included with the OS, and easily exceeding Windows and Linux (especially considering the continual reconfiguration and dependency hell that is Linux). For OS X specific applications, Objective C in XCode is actually quite easy and intuitive to use, with XCode being an excellent IDE. For Windows-specific development, I run a copy of Windows in Parallels. If I was not able to use OS X, I would use Linux and configure it heavily to work like OS X, and would do everything I could to not use Windows for development. But, from what you say, it is obvious you do no actual development on any platform, especially not OS X.

    Windows, kind of falls somewhere in between leaning toward Linux. Overall, basic things are great on the Mac, but more complicated things are irritating to do, and the "obviousness" type stuff actually gets in the way of multitasking and feature access.

    Obviousness? Is that even a word? Putting that aside, what "obviousness" are you talking about? I cannot think of a single obvious task in OS X that somehow gets in the way of multitasking and feature access. Most newbies tend to complain about shortcut keys, but do not make the effort to look them up (they are even online) or turn them on globally in the preferences for all applications and dialogs. And since you are complaining about shortcut keys in applications, it not only shows that you are obviously a newbie, but that you are complaining about a problem which is not specific to OS X. All of the OS X shortcut keys are standardized and logical. If there is a non-standard shortcut key in a specific application, then it is a vendor issue and not an OS X issue. If you are complaining about something other than shortcut keys, then you will be just as full of shit about that as you are about everything else.

    Ok, to summarize, what Apple really needs to do is develop their own theme engine and window manager for kde/gtk. Also, they can provide a translation layer for D&D to and from kde/gtk applications. This will solve 80% of your issues. Apple is closed source, therefore, they are in a much better position to make such software; they owe it to their customer base. There are open source projects that do much of this, but they can never get to the level that Apple can, and you can't expect too much from them as they are developing for a very small market.

    There are few completely incorrect points here, so I'll hit the big ones. First, Apple needs to develop software and SDK's for the development of OS X specific applications and truly cross-platform applications like Java. Apple does not need to make Linux programs compatible whatsoever. If a Linux program wants to run on OS X, then the Linux program should change to accommodate, Apple makes the API available for programmers to use in a multitude of languages. Apple does not somehow owe Linux compatibility to anyone. And marketshare doesn't mean shit to well qualified and driven developers. How many main developers does it take to make OpenOffice into NeoOffice? Two.

    What your post really says is that you use Linux and Windows on a PC. You have seen screenshots of OS X, possibly even used it a minute or two in an Apple store, and get the rest of your OS X information from linux.slashdot.org. You should use OS X full-time before writing reviews of it for other people on Slashdot who have never used OS X before either.
  • by drhlx ( 580655 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:06PM (#17188366) Homepage Journal
    The problem is when 'most people' are using a different tenth of Office's functionality :P
  • by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:44PM (#17189046)
    Your point about the customizability of OS X is good, but I disagree somewhat with your comment on Apple not having a unified GUI. Certainly in the past several years Apple's various apps have gone through several different looks, but the behavior of the GUI has been consistent. No matter what the color, all the scrollbars act the same (except for some third-party java apps). The consistent layout of menus and dialogs is more important than the color scheme.

    Apple still has no good excuse for their indecision about color schemes. One would think that all of their artists could come up with something and stick to it.
  • by Anarchitect_in_oz ( 771448 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:12PM (#17189324)
    Not sure who is the unwilling one here? Apple or Microsoft?

    For Background: I'm in the last steps of installing measures that mean we can run a VB based Industry app. on our Mac Centric network. The app runs under X11 but the is hosted off a single Windows Box, and fairly well.

    Think about how VB.net is used.
    Alot of the money making for MS from VB flavours as i understand is in enterprise, using it for development of Custom Business Apps, either as Database front ends or standalone. VB ties Enterprise to Windows, if They worked with Apple to support VB in OS X, especially if that support meant a look and feel close to cocoa applications, or even just better than under parrallels, then there is no reason not to have mixed enterprise environments, using Mac's and Windows, ditto on the Linux front. Every Mac sold is at least one windows box not sold as far as Microsoft is cercerned, where Bootcamp doesn't have the same market share issues.

    As far as Apple is concerned every Mac sold is a Mac sold.
    Now this has to be balanced against does it hurt the brand image to lose the point of distinction.
    If they did support they would be relieing on providing enough compelling Mac features to encourage Mac development.
    That Said would imagine Apple would be keen to get support but would also understand it would need to be done well.
  • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:34PM (#17189570)

    Not really complaining. Just telling you that not having a native GUI version on a platform that prides itself on the GUI is a non-starter. It really is that simple. You see, the end user won't know about these "standards" for UNIX-derived systems, they will just see an interface that looks and act different which requires an additional piece of software to run. Trying to convince end-users they are wrong or stupid for their choice of platforms doesn't really work very well. In fact, it works about as well to tell a Linux user that they made a poor choice when they should be using the industry standard operating system - Windows.

    You'd have to be very silly indeed to write a major F/OSS office suite, and not make it support X11.

    Depends on you goal, really. Maybe you want an open source suite that runs on the majority platform very well or uses unique features of a non-open source platform (Core Image / Video / Animation etc. on OS X). Maybe your problem with Microsoft Office is not monetary or ethical, but you have a different paradigm that you think would work better and you actually like Windows / OS X.

    It makes no sense to start out a multiplatform F/OSS project on Cocoa, because _nothing_ is compatible with it.

    The GNUstep team [gnustep.org] might have reason to disagree. It is very possible to write software for GNUstep that compiles and runs fine on OS X.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.