KSpread Review

key review info
application features
  • Multiple tables/sheets per document;
  • (4 more, see all...)

KSpread is a free spreadsheet application that is part of KOffice, an integrated office suite for the KDE Desktop Environment. Spreadsheets applications have two important purposes: making lists and doing calculations through formulas. Unfortunately, KOffice seems to be focused on formulas, slightly ignoring list making. KSpread offers a single tool for list-making, Custom Lists, found in the Tools menu. The Custom Lists tool allows users to define custom words or series of words recognized by KSpread, such as the days of the week, months or years. Moreover, it allows users to quickly add them to cells by entering one list item and then dragging the mouse over other cells to add the rest of the list in sequence. KSpread lacks very important functions like sorting and filters, except for the ability to sort rows and columns in ascending and descending order.

On the other hand, KSpread includes hundreds of mathematical functions, some very similar to ones found in Microsoft Excel, others unique and accessible only in KSpread. Either way, an eventual migration from Microsoft Excel (or other spreadsheet applications, for that matter) to KOffice KSpread shouldn't be very complicated. Its interface isn't very different from most spreadsheets, it provides cell styles laid out in organized series of tabs. It has the ability to shrink worksheets in order to fit the page size but unfortunately, it lacks the ability to set the order in which columns and rows are printed when they require more than one sheet.

Overall, KSpread provides all the features of popular commercial and free spreadsheets while maintaining a high compatibility level between them through the import/export filters. These filters aren't installed by default, or at least they aren't on Fedora. I've installed KSpread through yum and the import tool had only OpenDocument spreadsheet and KSpread formats supported, which was a little suspicious. I knew that KSpread was able to at least import Microsoft Excel (xls) files but even though I had a xls file on my desktop, it didn't show up in the browse window when I tried to import it. Finally, I found out there was a package called koffice-filters that I needed to have installed in order for KSpread (and other KOffice applications) to be able to import several file formats. Once that package was installed, KSpread was able to import Microsoft Excel files, as well as GNUmeric, OpenOffice, Kexi, Quattro Pro, dBASE and Applix documents. Pretty big change.

When you start KSpread, a wizard appears which offers you several templates. The templates are divided into three sections: General, Business and Home and Family. The General section contains the Blank spreadsheet, as well as the Student ID Card templates. The Business section contains Balance Sheet, Expense Report, Invoice, Packing Slip and Price Quotation templates. The last section contains BMI Calculator, Credit Card Tracker, Menu Plan and Vacation Checklist spreadsheet templates. From the same wizard, you can open an existing document from your hard drive and there's also the ability to open a recent document.

KSpread's workspace is basically divided into three main sections. The upper level includes the menus and toolbars, the middle section is the spreadsheet itself with rows, columns and cells, while the bottom section contains the status bar, which shows info about the marked cell. The toolbars can be configured to include only the buttons you need and use regularly by right-clicking a toolbar and selecting the "Toolbar configuration" entry. For new users, the toolbar buttons can be a little confusing but fortunately, KSpread shows tool tips for each button and menu. Moreover, the help manual is very helpful for new users and it even includes a section for beginners.

Formulas and Calculating are used to automatically calculate our results, generate new sheets for other months and make an abstract in the overview of the year. A formula can be used in two ways. The first one is to fill it by hand in the formula field found in the upper part of the main window. You'll have to select the destination files and then enter an equal sign. Finally, you can enter the calculation by hand, typing the operators and the required filed names. A formula can look like this: =a27+E3/a23*(5-f17)-sum(a13:a28) and once it has been typed in, it's time to get tested. If the entries in the formula were right, you should get a result in the destination filed. Otherwise, you'll see an error message inside. Alternatively, you can enter the data by clicking on the cells with the mouse cursor. To select areas of cells, simply left click a cell and drag the mouse cursor over the cells you want to have selected.

The Good

KSpread is a full featured spreadsheet package for Linux that provides both table-oriented sheets and support for complex mathematical formulas and statistics. It has many simple and advanced functions which make KSpread a spreadsheet application that can easily be used by both novice and advanced users. Moreover, it offers a complete hand book and many tool tips that come in handy for new users.

The Bad

Even if it supports importing several spreadsheet applications format, it lacks a very important feature: the ability to export MS Excel files, currently being able to only import them. This will definitely make Excel users think twice before making the switch.

The Truth

Overall, KSpread is a free, full-featured spreadsheet application for Linux, suitable for both beginners and advanced users. It offers a good variety of mathematical and formatting functions. Users of Microsoft Excel will have no trouble converting to KSpread as the interface is very similar, yet still intuitive and KSpread supports importing Excel files. Unfortunately, it doesn't also support exporting into Excel format.

Check out some screenshots below:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5

final rating 5
Editor's review