Issue 15274 - Improvement of CSV file import: 1.) Opening .TXT files should not bring up Writer, 2.) It should be easy to set the text delimiter to "none" if it is not needed, 3.) The formats set for the text file columns in the CSV import dialog should be carried over
Summary: Improvement of CSV file import: 1.) Opening .TXT files should not bring up Wr...
Alias: None
Product: Calc
Classification: Application
Component: open-import (show other issues)
Version: OOo 1.0.3
Hardware: PC Windows 98
: P3 Trivial with 13 votes (vote)
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: AOO issues mailing list
QA Contact:
Keywords: ms_interoperability, rfe_eval_ok, usability
: 15243 37856 39862 51004 56568 (view as issue list)
Depends on:
Reported: 2003-06-04 10:33 UTC by Unknown
Modified: 2013-02-07 22:32 UTC (History)
2 users (show)

See Also:
Latest Confirmation in: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---


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Description Unknown 2003-06-04 10:33:57 UTC

I have installed OpenOffice on various machines in our organisations, and these 
are a few "complaints" that were recieved. These aren't really problems with OO 
but may help make OO more user friendly to people who use shreadsheets to edit 
text files. I have numbered these "issues" below

1) To import a text file (especially those with different extentions such as .
log or .dat) you have the extra steps of Open > Select File Name > Change Filter 
to 'Text CSV' > Continue with import. Also, if you don't change the filter, it 
automatically opens up in writer, even though you are trying to open the file 
through spreadsheet.

Possible Solution: Since OO can determine that the file is a text file (since it 
opens up writer instead) why not just automatically load the 'Text CSV' filter 
and import wizard? If it comes up as jibberish, the user can cancel, rather than 
be forced to go through the extra steps.

2) On the Text Import Screen there are 2 issues:
a) There is no "none" text delimter, you have to specify this by selecting the 
delimiter and deleting. This can be confusing for newbies.
b) To change the column type, you have to select or right click each column. It 
would be easier to use the shift or control keys to select multiple or all 

3) After importing, fields are formated as 'Number - General'. If you import a 
text file, and during the import, set each column type to text or US English and 
continue the import, select any cell or column and select format cells, the 
fomrat is always 'Number- General'. This becomes a problem for those of us who 
want to use literal values. Also, if it's number format, and you type a date, it 
changes the type to date, which causes problems when you export the file again. 
If the the person selected text during import, let it be text in the 
spreadsheet. This I think is logical, save the other great 'effects' for the 
standard type on import.

4) It would be nice if you could incorporate changing the higlighting colour of 
cells and rows. Black on white is a bit boring, and more importantly, can be 
difficult to work with in different light conditions. This isn't major, but 
would be a 'nice to have' feature.

This is my first post, so I hope I haven't gone off the guide lines too much. 
And thank you for all the great work you have put into this fabulous suite. I 
can't wait to see it in 2 years time.
Comment 1 frank 2003-06-05 11:05:48 UTC

some comments from me :

1.) OOo is an integrated Office, that means you can't have single
Applications and how should the Office decide what should be opened ?
So a text file will be opened in Writer as this is the Application
which handles such documents.

2.) What do you want ? No delimiter sounds not really usefull. If you
need some fixed width delimiter just switch to it. 

For selecting more than one column, just try the latest OOo1.1Beta2.
We have implemented this right now.

3.) This is because Calc can't calculate with text values. So if you
type the value again, you get a number and therefore can calculate
with such values. If you really want the values to be text even if you
enter some numbers, just select the cells in question and set the cell
format to text. This prevents the changing from text to number on
entering new values. 

4.) The highlight color is the complementary color of the application
background. This is chooseable using OOo1.1Beta2.

Thanks for trying OOo and submitting your enhancement request. For the
next time please open a new Issuezilla task for each enhancement
request. This will make it much easier to answer and possibly
implement such requests.

As most if not all RFE's are implemented in OOo1.1 Beta I have to
close this Issue as worksforme as this state fits best.

Best regards

Comment 2 frank 2003-06-05 11:06:18 UTC
closed as most of the requests are implemented
Comment 3 Unknown 2003-06-05 12:11:57 UTC

Thanks for looking at this. I hope I can still post to this. As I feel 
I might have been misunderstood.

1) I understand that OOo is an integrated suite, but the point is, 
that the user has decided to use part of the suite to perform a 
specific function, yet OOo is 'over-riding' the user's logic which I 
feel is incorrect. If you install calc only, and try to open the text 
file, nothing happens. Why not try to tell the Open Dialog which app 
has called it, then process the opening file behaviour on that. I 
think maybe you might consider doing this for userfriendliness/ 
satisfaction more than anything as I am pretty sure you will get lots 
of complaints about this.

2) In the import screen for Text CSV, there is a "text delimiter" drop 
down list that only contains [ ' ] and [ " ] (I think Excel better 
names this as a qualifier) but what if I don't have any 
delimiter/qualifier in my text file? Although it may import properly 
if you choose either option, if you click save, it puts in the 
delimiter/qualifier even though the original file didn't have it. My 
point is, add an option that represents no delimiter/qualifier. It 
will save a lot of calls to the IT depts from newbie to whom it may 
not immediately occur that you can click in the drop down list and 
delete the option to represent "no delimiter/qualifier"

3) I understand that calc cannot calculate text, but I think the main 
reason many people import text files into spreadsheet applications 
such as OOo Calc and MS Excel is to take advantage of features such as 
drag and drop, row numbers, fill handle etc. And although in most 
cases it is fine to set the format to number, my point is that I 
"specified" the 'Text' option when importing, but Calc has over-ridden 
than by changing it to Number - General. And although I DO use your 
recommended method of changing the formats, it's kind of 
counter-productive. It almost as if the 'Text' option when importing 
is either useless or very limited.

4) I will certainly upgrade in the next few days.

I am sorry for posting all the requests in one issuezilla task, and 
again answering it all here. It was my first post, and I felt a 
response would be best here as it will be easier to follow. Thank you 
once again for you time, and I look forward to your responses.
Comment 4 frank 2003-06-05 14:27:24 UTC
Hi Bettina,

1 4 u

Comment 5 erwin.tenhumberg 2004-10-28 11:59:25 UTC
enhanced summary, set keywords and reassigned issue according to RFE process
Comment 6 erwin.tenhumberg 2004-11-04 13:27:29 UTC
*** Issue 15243 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 7 afmoene 2004-11-06 19:56:30 UTC
As far as I see, the first point of the original poster has been dropped with
the argument "OOo is an integrated Office". Maybe from a programmers point of
view it is. But from users point of view it is not (always). If I'm working with
Calc, I don't bother about Writer, so if -while in Calc- I want to open a text
file I mean that I want to open it *here*, and not in another application that
happens to be part of the same suite. 

I've seen this going wrong with users new to quite a number of
times. In fact, this quirk, in combination with the bad user interface for
graphs has kept me using wither Gnumeric, or Excel under Vmware, whereas I
completely ditched Word^{tm} for all my text things.

MSOffice is -supposed to be- an integrated office suite as well. But Excel
*does* understand that if a user opens a text file from within Excel, the user
wants to import that text into Excel. And since Excel, like Calc, has a wizard
for this, it starts the wizard.

I can imagine that the automatism of starting a certain application when a
certain type of file is opened is buried very deep in the logic and code of OO.
And in most cases is works well. But the current issue is an extremely annoying
example where it does not.
Comment 8 philhibbs 2004-11-25 11:56:14 UTC
I am working with CSV files that contain data like this:


If I mark the last column as Text, it puts a ' in front of every field value. If I then type in a new value, the cell is still a "Number/General" cell, so it strips the leading zero and makes it a number, and when I export it, it doesn't get the quotes. This is very annoying.

The import dialog should have a tickbox "Format text cells as Text". This would maintain 100% compatability with current behaviour, while allowing those that know that they are getting into (no calculation with Text cells) to get what they want (I don't want to do maths on telephone numbers).
Comment 9 frank 2004-11-25 12:50:12 UTC
*** Issue 37856 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 10 frank 2005-01-05 15:50:16 UTC
*** Issue 39862 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 11 rabund 2005-02-10 16:46:21 UTC

today I've tried to load a .csv to calc. But it was simply impossible using the
open function. OO simply ignores the selected filter and opens as text in
writer. csv is a data format and not a text format. To change the behaviour of
OO is not an enhancement, but fixing of a major bug.

By the way, I've solved my problem by describing a datasource and than copying
the data into calc. Sometimes I want Excel back (just sometimes :-))!

Comment 12 frank 2005-06-30 11:55:24 UTC
*** Issue 51004 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 13 seth666 2005-10-18 10:41:32 UTC
Similar problem for me is opening .dat files I would like to import them to calc
but they are opened in writer. Can I import it to calc? 
Comment 14 atdsm 2005-12-01 14:36:21 UTC
My vote is for in particular #3 here - I feel that if there is text in quotes
(text delimited in the CSV), then the resulting cells in OOo should be formatted
as text. I also feel that if the user marks a column as Text, then the text
format should be applied to the resulting cells. This issue still hasn't been
addressed in OOo 2.0, and I think it should be.
Comment 15 atdsm 2005-12-01 14:47:45 UTC
*** Issue 56568 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 16 maddox2 2006-02-25 10:21:07 UTC
The best workaround for this issue is to add an menu entry in "file" named
import or "import cvs files". this way the OOo will always import the cvs file
into calc. Its more locigal as the output in .pdf files is done either by menu
entry export instead of a save as filter
Comment 17 tar1827 2007-03-25 20:37:52 UTC
I find it remarkable that Open Office thinks that I don't know what I am doing,
so when I directly instruct Calc to open a tab-delimited file, that is not a
comma separated file (CSV), it launches Writer and puts it there. So apparently
I need to change the file extension to CSV and then, in the text import dialog
change it from comma delimited to tab delimited.

I'm also told in the Open Office Help Forums that this topic comes up hundreds
of times.  So I gather that, given how old this "Issue" is, the developers are
simply not listening to the users.  This issue alone is reason enough for me not
to recommend Open Office.  It's not really unusual to import text files that are
not "CSV" into a spreadsheet.  I think that if you have to explain to a new user
that they must work around the software when it overrides your explicit command,
then the software needs some work.
Comment 18 mgd 2007-06-13 15:14:21 UTC
This problem still exists in OO 2.2 on Linux !

I understand that if I start "ooffice" the suite preselects writer to open a 
csv file without the csv extension. However when I explicitly start "oocalc" I 
don't want no stinking computer to tell me that in fact I must have 
meant "oowriter" and consequently overrule *MY* deliberately made choice.

At least for 'oocalc somefile' I'd expect to get the csv import dialog (or 
whatever calc compatible import might be applicable). FWIW 'kspread' can do it 
just nicely.

I would like to see a filetype selection when issuing 'ooffice somefile' that 
allows me to tell OO I'm loading a CSV file.

Comment 19 brenbarn 2007-08-22 20:39:25 UTC
This needs to be fixed.  Saying that OOo is "one office under the hood" is
meaningless to users, who use one application at a time.  Adding a separate
"Import Text" option on the file menu would be fine.

Part #3 of the issue (keeping data formats) is especially vital.  What, indeed,
is the point of having the data-format option in the Import Text dialog if the
data formats are not actually applied to the resulting spreadsheet.

Why is a target milestone not assigned?
Comment 20 intersol 2007-11-04 20:58:14 UTC
I agree that CSV files must open by default on Calc - it's a high priority
feature because of the accessibility. I don't ever meed a man interested in
opening a CSV file in a text processor like Word of Calc ! 

PS. Please reedit the summary and remove the other request and if you want add
other issues. In the future NEVER add more than one request/issue.!
Comment 21 opticyclic 2010-09-25 17:39:03 UTC
7 years and this still hasn't been fixed!
Same thing happens in Open Office 3.2

If I open Calc then try to open a file, I want it to open in Calc.
If I wanted to open the file in Writer, I would have opened Writer!

The fact that you can work around it by selecting Text CSV is meaningless as
well because that option is entrenched in an overly huge list of other options
(44th out of 113 options!!!).
Before you get to that you have Text documents, Spreadsheets, Text, Text Encoded
and other potential options so people assume it doesn't work.

OOo advertises with things like "interoperability with Microsoft Office for
free" etc etc
If that is the case, why are there decisions like these to operate completely
differently to Microsoft Office?

If you search the forums there are hundreds of posts asking questions that this
bug addresses and feel as though it is 'broken'.

As often is the case with these types of issues, some people want it one way and
some want it in a seemingly opposing way.

The solution that will appease everyone is to make it an option in the settings.
Then the people that like the original way can carry on without any affect to
them and the people that like it the way as certain other office suites can be
happy by switching on the option.

I would suggest that you either have an option in the settings or you have a
radio button on the open dialog that gave the choice
 - Automatically choose application based on file type
 - Try to open file in this application.