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The StartX Files: Between the Sheets with Quattro Pro - page 3

Free As In Continuity

  • February 1, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

If you can get a hold of WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux, then you will have a working copy of Quattro Pro 9.

When Corel decided to bump up their entire office suite to the Linux platform, they sort of cheated by migrating everything over to a WINE port. They did this even with WordPerfect itself, to maintain consistency. Right away, this might raise suspicion, since WINE-based apps are notoriously unstable.

Such is not the case with Quattro Pro 9. I had no trouble running it during the tests for this review. But one thing was clear very quickly: this is not a speedster's application. Quattro Pro is slow. It was slow when I used to run it on Corel Linux 2.0 and it was slow when I ran it on Mandrake 8.1 this week.

Quattro Pro is one of the oldest spreadsheet applications around, with a venerable history that goes almost all the way back to VisCalc and Lotus 1-2-3. Its experience seems to have served it well, because during its lifespan, Quattro Pro has picked up 525 functions in its formula library.

Formula creation was simple to do with the Formula Composer, if pointing and clicking is your cup of tea.

The data manipulation tools were top-notch, particularly the Cross Tab Reports, which are Quattro Pro's version of the pivot table. The Cross Tab Reports were easy to use, a descriptor not always associated with pivot tables.

Formattting tools were good, but Quattro Pro 9 did show its age in displaying aliased fonts both on screen and from the printer, even in KDE. The well-stocked array of charting tools, though, almost made up for this blemish. Quattro Pro's charts can be set up and looking good in a snap.

Interoperability with Quattro Pro is pretty decent, too. Besides its own file format, Quattro Pro can open Excel files (up to 97), Lotus 1-2-3 (up to v. 5), HTML, text-delimited files, and (if you actually have some lying about) Quicken (QIF) format files.

Quattro Pro can also save to these formats as well, but only the contents of the current sheet will be saved. So, multi-sheet documents are a pain to save to other formats.

In terms of spreadsheet stats, try 1,000,000 rows by 18,000 columns. This is the all-time winner for spreadsheet size with a total of 18 billion cells (which is even more staggering if you consider that each Quattro Pro workbook will handle 18,000 individual worksheets).

There are some elements that can be improved, of course. The speed issue, for one, the fonts for another. I leave these thoughts as a record of posterity, in case someone ever does get the licensing from Corel and decides to pick up where Corel left its Linux users high and dry.

I hope someone does, someday. Quattro Pro was one of the best in its day, and it deserves another chance on the Linux platform.

Available from: Various sources
Version reviewed: Quattro Pro 9 for Linux
License: Proprietary
Cost: Varies

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