So, about six months ago I posted that Snow Leopard – aka OSX 10.6 – wasn’t ready for primetime. Well, it turns out the majority of my problems were not with SL, they were with other software not working correctly with SL. The biggest issue, for me and many like me, was Microsoft Office 2004. Some of you may say, “Yeah, but 2004? Just upgrade!” Well, it’s not so simple. MS, in their infinite wisdom, did update Office for Mac in 2007, but, and it’s a big but, they removed macro abilities from Excel. This is sort of an issue for a whole lot of Excel users, me included. There was a simple enough solution for us, of course, just continue using Office 2004, which had macro and ODBC support. Of course, all that changed when SL and Office 2004 didn’t play together too well.
I finally have solved my Office problems, and the answer is Open Office. OO is a open-source clone of MS Office which is available for most major operating systems, originally developed by Sun Microsystems, but now in the public domain. I’ve been trying to switch to OO for four years or more, but it was never quite ready to do everything I needed it to. The SL and Office issue pushed me to check out OO again about a month ago, and what do you know? it now does everything I need it to. This means easy ODBC connections for live data updates from my SQL servers, macro recording, scripting via a variety of languages, including Python, and more. It almost flawlessly opens MS Office docs, and what doesn’t quite translate correctly is easily and quickly fixed. I’ve now converted all my major Excel docs to OO, and had them all working and updating daily via ODBC with zero issues, and all this under SL. Excellent!
You should note this is probably not the ideal fix for everyone. If you need to send excel docs to MS Office users regularly, it may be a problem. Though OO exports docs to Excel, there’s no guarantee it’ll go perfectly, just as the imports are not always perfect out of the box. But, if you can abandon MS Office, there’s no longer any obvious reason not to do so. I may never start MS Office again, and I can’t tell you how nice a feeling that is; that’s another $500 per seat I won’t have to send to MS every few years.