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Hi :)
This is part of the reason for keeping existing versions of MS Office
during the migration period.

Existing templates and documents hopefully work well on existing
versions of MS Office.  They don't always work so well on newer
versions of MS Office but upgrading the templates is then considered
part of the cost of the upgrade.

MS Office 2007 uses a "transitional" OOXML format.  MS Office 2010
uses a different one.  MS Office 2013 uses yet another by default but
allow "strict" OOXML through the
File - "Save As ..."
menu.  There was some attempt to 'backport' the OOXML format to 2003
and earlier but i'm not sure which of the "transitional" formats was
used or if it was yet another version.

Mostly MS Office 2003 and earlier use a previous MS format that had
finally become fully interoperable with many other programs, suites
and usable cross-platform but MS chose that moment to start using
OOXML which promised (but apparently failed to deliver) the promise of
interoperability that the older format had just achieved.  The new
OOXML format kinda forces everyone to keep buying their newer and
newer versions of MS Office.  MS Office is one of the biggest income
streams for the profit making company.

By contrast LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Caligra/KOffice, IBM Lotus
Symphony and many other programs all use ODF and can easily be set to
default to the ISO standard that works exactly the same in all
versions of all programs, except MS Office.

So, sticking with MS formats and MS programs ensures needing to
upgrade all the templates every 3 years or so.  Moving to LibreOffice
means upgrading to the ODF formats and templates this one time.

The additional advantage with migrating to LibreOffice (or OpenOffice)
is that it is possible to do so without losing your existing version
of MS Office.  MS Office doesn't really allow that as an option.
Well, it does but it's difficult to do and leads to confusions and
problems.  I've done it but it's really not worth the hassle.

So, keeping existing MS Office for existing templates and documents is
smart.  New templates and documents need to start being made on
LibreOffice but you can still use the old ones on MS Office.  Plus it
gives you more time to upgrade existing templates and test they work
before becoming dependant on them.

Regards from
Tom :)

On 4 April 2014 10:02, Alex Thurgood <> wrote:
Le 02/04/2014 06:54, Sqwuiddy a écrit :

Whoa !! Too many questions in one post.

Part of our company has moved completely to LibreOffice and removed
Microsoft Office from their computers. I have tried programming mail merge
templates on my computer, and then having them open it on theirs, and the

I hope that the migrated templates are in ODF format (ott), or else you
are heading for trouble...

documents will not merge. The first error we encountered was that the IF
statements that I built didn't function at all. I simply wanted to make an
"X" appear when a field contained a certain value. These were if statements
that would function on my computer. The second error was that... well, none of

IF statements should work, at least within ODF documents, as far as I know.

the merge fields merged. When I re-inserted them they worked fine, but they
wouldn't pull from the database even after re-registering it. My question
here is, does Word give Libre Writer a leg up if both programs are on one
computer? Is that why when I moved a document I'd programmed and tested to

No, Word does not help Writer in any way here to my knowledge. More
likely it comes down to the fact that your template when transferred
must contain the same paths to the data source (which you don't mention
in detail). From the rest of your post, it appears that you are merging
from an Excel sheet ? For the mailmerge to work reproducibly, your ODF
document must reference the Excel sheet as a datasource in the same way
as on your own machine, and if the datasource is registered with LO, it
is written into the user configuration.

Nested IF Statements:

Is this possible? I have tried a variety of things and I've done a good deal
of research, and I've hit a wall. We cannot move forward if we do not have

No idea, as I've never tried this.

IF Statements resulting in a Mail Merge Field:

So far I have only been able to make conditional mail merge fields
hide/appear using hidden sections. This is not a practical technique for us,
as our documents are built almost entirely on conditionally revealed values.
I have researched this as much as I could, it seems I cannot create a
conditional statement that results in a mail merge field, but I wanted to

My understanding was that hidden sections was the route to choose in
order to obtain what you want. It might be possible to obtain something
similar via User variables, which are stored in the document, but the
number of these that you can define are limited (4 or 6 or something so
small as to be practically useless ?).

There are other techniques available that do not rely on the UI to do
this, including setting variables within the document as any given
character, and then using a scripting framework to control replacement
of those variables with the values you want and have a user driven
interface, but most of these are command line solutions (Python, Java,
Rexx, etc)

Formatting Fields:

We regularly use a formatting switch on our mail merge fields in Word 2010
called "DollarText." This takes a number from an Excel spreadsheet and
spells it out, like below:

Cell Value: $1,231.67
Formatted: One thousand, two hundred and thirty one dollars and sixty seven

We have other switches that we need to use as well, but those don't seem
available in the list of additional formats. Is there a workaround for this,
or am I missing something? I have to admit, I don't fully understand how to
build custom formats (I haven't found much documentation on them at all).

You would probably require a macro to convert a number to spelled-out
text, there used to be one around in the shape of an extension that
could do this, but I haven't checked recently. As for user defined
formats, these tend to be limited to fairly simple string formats,
otherwise you're going to have to devise a macro to do it for you.

Check Boxes:

FormCheckBoxes from Word do not translate in Writer. Meaning, I can open
Word 97-2003 documents containing these functional check boxes with Libre
Writer but they do not print. Is there a setting somewhere that I need to
switch or perhaps a better alternative? I have tried retemplating these
documents in Libre using Writer's FormCheckBoxes but they are impossible for
me to place on a table. Wingdings are also not an option.

Non-printing of Word checkboxes is/was a known bug. Don't know if that
has been fixed, or if a fix is even in the works. I have always found
that using Writer checkbox controls is fraught with dissatisfaction
because they are too small, do not scale well, and do not allow you to
choose the tick mark character.

Table-Intensive Documents:

We build forms that go to court, so they have to be laid out in tables
exactly as the court requires. Most of the time we build these forms on
tables in Word. When opened in Libre Writer, the tables break, cells expand,
and other such things occur. I spent 4 hours last week trying to rebuild one

Tables and nested table import from Word are still problematic, due to
incomplete (or buggy) filter implementation and differences in the specs
of each product which define how tables should be handled.

for a firm that doesn't have access to Microsoft Office and had no luck.
After I finally finished my rebuilding, I saved the document as a Writer
document to prevent further issue with compatibility, and to my absolute
dismay I discovered that it turned all of the mail merge fields into text. I

You seem to be expecting perfect transition from a heavily MS-Office
centric document usage to LibreOffice without having to reconsider how
the various objects in these documents are managed by the corresponding
software - as you have found out, this simply doesn't happen.

We have already built hundreds of mail merge templates in Word. In order to
continue to function through the conversion from Word to Writer, we need to
be able to merge these and not rebuild them all immediately. However,
simple, very simple, documents have been crashing Writer like we were in a
derby and on fire. This isn't just with one, but a great majority of our
templates. Is this common? They are Word 97-2003 documents I am opening in
Libre Writer 4.0.

I would recommend switching to a more recent version of LibreOffice than
4.0, which was decidedly buggy (not that there aren't any with 4.1.5.x
or 4.2.x.x, but the doc and docx filters have been improved since 4.0).
Note that Word 2003 format was an incomplete transitional OOXML for
which it is very hard to provide adequate import/export filters, because
it supported both old and new MS specific document objects, and even
then did so incompletely. You should not expect MS 2003 xml formats to
be imported correctly. You might fare better with Word 97 only formats
when importing, but even these (see table problems) will not be perfect.

Also, below are some fun, plain-text formulas I built in Word that we use on
every day templates, just to give you an idea of the level of complexity I'm
talking about.

Can these be recreated in Libre Writer without learning to code in Pearl and

Frankly, they could be coded in LO Basic, and yes, that means, having to
learn it - its structure and objects are not the same as MS VBA.


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