Visual Basic programming is a particularly powerful aspect of the Microsoft Excel environment. Macros created by this language extend considerable functionality to spreadsheets by offering enhanced interactivity and real-time calculations. Many spreadsheet designers wish their products to be cross-compatible between Microsoft Office and its open-source alternative, Open Office. But the Visual Basic macro language is not supported by Open Office. When converting Excel files to Open Office, additional work is needed if the files contain macros. As this is a common problem, there are tools available to streamline the process.
Find a suitable utility program to convert macros in the Excel Visual Basic language to the CalcBasic code necessary for Open Office. A free option is the online conversion program offered by Business Spreadsheets (see Resources). This convenient Web page allows the user to paste existing Visual Basic code into a text box and automatically convert it into CalcBasic. While no automatic conversion between the two programming languages will be thorough, this process is a good primer for the tweaking that is inevitably necessary to ensure full functionality in Open Office. This utility is good for programmers looking to quickly jump start the conversion process so all Open Office users will have access to their macro programs.
Install a Visual Basic compatibility package into Open Office. This option is particularly convenient as it allows Open Office to run a Visual Basic program without any conversion. However, this is not ideal for any spreadsheet designed for a mass audience as each user would need to make the update to their Open Office software. There are two options for making this change. The Go-oo program extends Open Office software to a variety of file types allowing users to easily integrate many applications.
An additional solution along these lines is a full reconfiguration of the Open Office installation package running on a network. Novell has created a new design of Open Office that supports Visual Basic code, but the installation is complicated. This process also relies on the OOo updates offered by Go-oo but integrates them from the ground up. This is better suited to network environments where many individuals will need this functionality.
Acquire a version of Open Office that already has Visual Basic compatibility built in. As of 2006 there are at least 10 versions of Open Office supporting Visual Basic. This obviates the process for more robust Excel macro conversion, but is not suitable for programmers looking to reach a wide audience. Open Office in its native format does not recognise Visual Basic code, so this option is only suitable for programmers making the switch for themselves or a controlled user base.