Subject: Re: Free software as a replacement for Microsoft
From: Jody Goldberg <jgoldberg@home.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 11:50:05 -0400

On Tue, Oct 09, 2001 at 12:22:36AM -0400, Miguel de Icaza wrote:
> Gnumeric is on path to replace Excel, but it is not such a tool
> today,

Miguel thanks for pointing out Dr. Augustin's comment.  I agree with
both sets of remarks whole heartedly.  Having spent many years
toiling within XL I am well acquainted with its power and
shortcomings.  The upcoming stable release of Gnumeric is by no
means a possible replacement for XL, yet.  They are smaller, faster,
and more featureful by an order of magnitude.  However, the power
user is not our short term target.  The first goal is to provide
something usable by my wife or mother.  If we can provide near pixel
perfect viewing of existing sheets, and enough features to make the
average user feel at home, people will use Gnumeric.

Power features like pivot tables, filters, and many others are known
limitations.  Rest assured that we do understand them.  Its a
question of resource allocation.  One of the key elements to
Gnumeric's success is that we've tried very hard _not_ to promise
what we have not delivered.  Implementing a pivot engine would not
be difficult.  Providing a decent Data guru to go with it, and
importing/exporting the pivots to XL would be a larger project.

Thankfully despite its advantages in resources, development time,
and user base, MS has a serious disadvantage that gives me hope.
    People can fix Gnumeric when they need to.
When XL breaks you get to waste time getting someone to admit there
is a bug, or you get to search for the magic incantation that will
bypass the problem.  In Gnumeric people with domain expertise can
apply it.  One of our newest contributors is a statistics prof using
Gnumeric for his 1st year students.  He's taken it upon himself to
audit and extend our analysis routines.  Couple in some of the
statistics code from R and we now have more numericly stable code
than MS Excel (tm).

There is a huge amount of work to do, but projects like Gnumeric and
GNOME provide a concrete basis to move forward.

Sincerely,
    Jody