It is little depressive, but it seems to me that there is much more support for manipulating ugly proprietary closed format like xls in rails (and ruby) in general that to documented open Open Document format. Why it is so? (I know it is kind of philosiophical, but I just do not get the fact, that the opensource is not more inclined to write SW for open formats).

For example for ruby there is a spreadsheet gem.

  • I'd suspect that the XLS format having arrived first might be a factor.
    – user16764
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:06
  • I do not agree with this, to my knowledge all plugins are dated after the ods was long time estabilished + there is also supporting argument that event the xlsx format has much more support and it arrived much later (but has opened specification, thats true)
    – gorn
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:13
  • Not in a slightest bit philosophical. Purely pragmatic.
    – scrwtp
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:23
  • Please leave comment when downvoting. It is both educational and polite.
    – gorn
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:50
  • 2
    I think you're tilting with windmills with this question. It doesn't matter when XLSX came, because XLS was around a lot longer, well before ODS, and that's the anchoring (as in ball-and-chain) spreadsheet format that people are trying to deal with. XLS has a 16-year lead, there's 16-years worth of spreadsheets more than Open-Office had. That's a huge difference. Commented May 20, 2013 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


Your question is tied to "Why do corporations/people use commercial suites/applications when equally good open source versions are available?"

Answer that and you'll have a good idea why there is less ODS support than XLS. For now, here's a hint: People do what their management asks.

  • Do you think/know that all these gems are developed in corporate envinronment?
    – gorn
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 20:54
  • 1
    @gorn More that these gems are developed and improved by people who have a monetary incentive to do so.
    – Tacroy
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 20:57
  • is there any good articles/evidence on this? It sounds interesting
    – gorn
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 21:03
  • Interesting? Ha. It's enough to make us scream. Evidence? Not recent evidence in my case, but I've had requests in the past from management for very similar things. Some office drone abuses XLS, using it for everything they can think of, locking the data into a spreadsheet they can't live without, though it should never have been put there in the first place. We get called in WAY after the fact, and asked to pry it loose when someone leaves/gets invited to leave by management. There is no choice of using ODS or OS, it's a "do it now" task. Commented May 20, 2013 at 23:00
  • @the Tin Man - that sounds like something I can easily imagine :) ... that is the way a started with php ... However do you think that most OS is written because of professional demand? I had this romantic idea that OS is inspired by programmers preferences ...
    – gorn
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 11:43

Supply and demand.

Manipulating Excel spreadsheets is a task which is extremely useful to many people, hence there is considerable demand for code that does this, hence that code exists.

Manipulating ODS spreadsheets is useful only to a very tiny niche, hence there is minimal demand for code that does this, hence nobody has bothered to expend much effort writing that code.

If ODS ever becomes more than, say, 0.1% as widely used as XLS spreadsheets, this situation may change.

  • I agree with supply/demant argument, although I do not think that ods has only that small share. Do you know any source of statistics which would support this? However the community of geeks which are able to create ruby gem possibly uses OpenDocument formats much more that average user, so that is what is strange.
    – gorn
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 11:38

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