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Open-Xchange adds spreadsheet program to its online app suite

OX Spreadsheet offers online collaboration and allows editing of Excel documents

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Open source collaboration software vendor Open-Xchange has added a spreadsheet function to its open-source, web-based productivity suite, allowing the online editing and sharing of Microsoft Excel documents.

OX Spreadsheet is an extension to OX App Suite, a browser-based productivity suite that provides tools for managing email, documents, calendar and social network feeds. It will also be available as a component of online productivity suite OX Documents, the company announced Tuesday.

The spreadsheet program will allow editing and sharing of Microsoft Excel documents across various devices without any formatting issues or loss of information, providing full compatibility with Microsoft Excel XML 2007 and later documents, according to the company. Support for the Open Document Format (ODF) is forthcoming, probably within the next three months, a company spokesman said.

This release of OX Spreadsheet focuses on round-trip editing, entering data, keyboard shortcuts, calculating, formatting and charting, according to the product guide. Currently not in scope are filtering, sorting, conditional formatting, advanced formatting, data analysis and change tracking, according to the document.

While OX Spreadsheet's features are not 100 percent comparable with Excel, Open-Xchange tried to incorporate key functions in the application, the spokesman said.

Teamwork is also a focus in this release. Multiple users can have access to the same document at the same time, but only one of them has the edit rights while the rest see it in read-only mode, the spokesman said. Users can switch edit access by claiming edit rights, he said. The amount of people who can read the document at the same time is in principle unlimited, he said.

"We said it makes no sense to have more than one person edit the same document at the same time," he said, adding that would only cause confusion.

OX Spreadsheet can be accessed using a browser and it can scale to fit smartphone and tablet screens, the company said. It is meant for service providers like ISPs, hosting providers, telecom operators and system integrators, who can offer it to their customers in turn under their own brand.

Because the software is open source, private users can also download OX Spreadsheet for free, the spokesman said. "But it is pretty tricky to install," he said, adding that users would first have to install OX App Suite and then add OX Spreadsheet and OX text, a browser-based text editor, as additional components.

Open-Xchange received a US$20 million investment last July that it is using to speed up feature rollouts for its Web-based office suite. The spreadsheet module was originally scheduled for release at the end of last year. The company is still working on a presentation module originally planned for the second quarter of this year, but which is now unlikely to appear before the first quarter of 2015, the spokesman said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com



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