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Old 01-17-2016, 05:03 PM   #1
dgoddard
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Malfunctioning Software


I am about to go nuts trying to figure out what has gone haywire with the spreadsheet I use.
Spreadsheet:
Libre Office Calc
Version 4.2.8.2
Build ID 420M(Build:2)
When using this spreadsheet:
-- If I enter a zero in a cell it will not display. Any other number will display but not zero. After entering a zero in that cell it appears blank If I highlight that cell up at the top of the sheet it will however tell me that the contents of the cell are zero but the cell itself will not display it.
-- If I enter some other numbers in different cells they display and then I write a formula to reference those cells to calculate an answer that has the value of zero, the zero will not display. If I highlight the cell at the top of the spreadsheet it will show me the formula that I entered but nothing at all displays. If I change the formula to calculate a non-zero value then the cell will display the non-zero value.

A cell that displays blank is not an acceptable substitute for zero because some spreadsheets require the user to enter data into an array of cells in order to calculate a valid result the cells must show what was entered into them so the user can tell that they have all been filled, and the displayed result has sufficient data to be accurate.

I cannot seem to find any place to address this issue.

Previously I have not experienced this problem with Libre Office. I am running all this under Linux Mint Mate interface,

System Specs:

Toshiba Satellite P55-A5200

LinuxMint
Release 17.1 (rebecca)
Kernel Linux 3.13.0-37-generic
MATE 1.8.1

Hardware
Memory 5.7 GiB
Processor 0:Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3337U CPU @ 180GHz
Processor 1:Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3337U CPU @ 180GHz
Processor 2:Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3337U CPU @ 180GHz
Processor 3:Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3337U CPU @ 180GHz

System Status
Available disk Space:614.9 GiB
 
Old 01-17-2016, 05:09 PM   #2
astrogeek
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This is not a malfunction, more of a PEBKAC error - an ordinary LibreOffice configuration option.

DuckDuckGo says: Display zero values.
 
Old 01-17-2016, 06:53 PM   #3
John VV
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as above
check the cell settings( format cells) and the preferences
tools / options
then the calc section


set "leading zeros" to 1 or 2 or 3
 
Old 01-18-2016, 09:58 AM   #4
dgoddard
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Malfunction discovered.

The immediate problem has, after hours of screwing around, been identified and corrected. However the underlying problems at different levels remain. I have wasted about 4 hours and had to use time consuming alternate technology to complete the word until the problem could be found. It lies 6 levels down in the menu structure.
-- Tools
-- -- Options
-- -- -- Libre Office Calc
-- -- -- -- View
-- -- -- -- -- Display
-- -- -- -- -- -- Zero Values (which is a check box)

This arcane feature became a problem apparantly because of a recommended update which altered the Default Settings Having used spreadsheets for engineering calculations for the last 30 years, It utterly escapes me as to why anyone would even have such a default as to not display 0 values.
-- It is an impediment to entering an array of data in which multiple entered values may be zero,
and
-- It is even more inane that when the result of a computation is in fact 0 that the result would not be shown.

So as a point of curiosity if anyone knows why anyone would want such a so-called "feature", please enlighten me.

The BIGGER PROBLEM is the impact this can have in software updates or even worse automatic update schemes. I have personally experienced a situation where in excess of 100 manhours were lost and results impaired for days after some administrative bureaucrat at the university who could not likely have "computed his way out of a wet paper bag" mandated that the IT department personnel set all computers on campus to automatically engage in updates whenever they became available.

At the very least changing the default settings in software can derail schedules while personnel have to identify a malfunction, characterize it, track it down to its source and find what default setting got changed. Software needs to work the same way today as it did yesterday. And when change is needed it must be controlled and managed in an orderly fashion. There is validity in the maxim that:

"IF IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO CHANGE IT IS NECESSARY TO NOT CHANGE !"

As so many disruptions can be traced to altered default settings. the entirety of them need to be placed in a readily identified location High in the menu structure and not buried multiple levels down in the menu structure. It would seem that intelligent design of software would store all default settings in one place so that they can be preserved as much as possible when updates are done, or if they have to be changed the user can be alerted as to what had to be changed and where to find the changes.
--------------
So now if anyone knows why someone would have a use for never displaying zero values and why that default should be foisted upon all users during a software update, please say on.

I would really like to know who needs the ability to not display zero values and to what end, otherwise I would have marked the thread as solved.

As an engineer I would really like to know what is to be gained by not displaying a bit of entered data just because it is zero and who would ever perform a calculation and not want to know that the result is zero.

Last edited by dgoddard; 01-18-2016 at 10:11 AM. Reason: establish criterion for regarding as fully resolved.
 
Old 01-18-2016, 02:47 PM   #5
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgoddard View Post
So as a point of curiosity if anyone knows why anyone would want such a so-called "feature", please enlighten me.
I'll admit to wondering about that myself... a quick search indicates that it is another gift from Micro$oft - Excel has the feature so everyone who needs to be compatible with Excel must also have it.

The only actual reason that I could find for it was as a means of preventing zero valued cells from skewing aggregated or derived values such as averages, and to prevent zero valued entries from appearing in charts and graphs.

So there is some use for it, and whether you would want it enabled or not would depend mostly on your own uses for the data. Office suites are probably a little biased toward accounting and management uses as opposed to engineering use, so that might affect some default choices.

I am not an office suite user, so I cannot say anything about how the defaults work or where they are located. I do however think that defaults should not be all lumped together in a default location, but should rather be set in the place where they apply - makes more sense to me anyway.

But I am a little surprised that an update might alter existing user config files in your home directory.

I too am an engineer, use mostly shell based tools and prefer sc as my spreadsheet for most uses, you might want to look into that as an option. It rarely does anything unexpected and gives me just the numerical values, whatever they are.

And if you want more complete information about LibreOffice, their own forums would be a better place to ask as it is not a Linux project.

Last edited by astrogeek; 01-18-2016 at 02:47 PM. Reason: tpos, typs, typos
 
Old 01-19-2016, 10:01 PM   #6
dgoddard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
..............

And if you want more complete information about Libre Office, their own forums would be a better place to ask as it is not a Linux project.
I also had the same thought but for some reason I had no luck whatsoever trying to find their forums, I got lost in the structure of what Libre Offices I could find, though I will admit to being both frustrated and frazzled as I tried to find find my way out of the dilemma. As to not tallying the zero values in averages or the like, when a value is zero, in my work I consider that a valid data point. And there really is a zero in the cell because if you highlight that cell the formula entry line does show it was entered, but if the zero is a result of the calculation the formula entry line shows the formula. I simply cannot conceive of a reason to perform a calculation and not show the result. At best if there is any reason to not use a zero value a simple "if statement" should handle the matter. So if this feature (BUG!) exists for a reason I would think it exists because of the computational incompetence of the ones it serves.

As to automatic updates screwing up how an application works. I have had the unpleasantness of the experience many times and had my work delayed because of it. I sometimes wonder if the difficulty of finding changed defaults is not due to a language problem about what certain defaulted features ought to be called in the language of the software user versus the language of the programmer.

But your response is enough to now call this thread solved even if I do not understand exactly how it is to be used. We can just blame it on the under-appreciated bookkeepers, (Though it is not as if the plight of us engineers is not under-appreciated from time to time also.
 
Old 01-19-2016, 11:22 PM   #7
ardvark71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgoddard View Post
I also had the same thought but for some reason I had no luck whatsoever trying to find their forums
Hi...

You can find the unofficial forum site here. Additional contact/support options are here.

Regards...
 
  


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