NCS Auction and OpenOffice 3.2

I didn't think this had a chance of working, but I am awfully glad it did. I am one of the head technology geeks for our upcoming school auction and needed a way to generate the Silent Auction bid sheets as automatically as possible from a database of auction items. We are completely Microsoft Office based which is both good and bad. Good because we can be very creative with the tools and the knowledge about the application is very diffuse; bad because not all of the laptops we have are not going to have an install of MS Office. Well, in order to run the MS Access database on the day of the auction (to manage bidders and winning bids) I found an MS Access 2007 runtime that seems to perform admirably enough for us not to have to worry about having Access installed on all of the machines at the auction. This will save us a bunch of headaches and is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle we needed to get this whole thing running well. The second piece was the use of OpenOffice (OOo) to edit the individual Silent Auction sheets once they are generated from the items in the database.

 

The issue I was running into with using OOo was that I was generating the mail merged documents in MS Word and then opening them up in OOo for editing. Well, I had an embedded spreadsheet in the Word document that calculated the bids that we would require from three different values: the Minimum Bid, the Minimum Raise, and the Buy It Now price (if any). The embedded spreadsheet was opening just fine in OOo but, when I double clicked on it to edit the values in it, I found it opened in read-only mode in OOo Calc (the MS Excel equivalent). This was a big issue because I do not have a version of MS Office installed on my laptop at home and I needed grant my wife the ability to edit the Silent Auction forms. So...off to the web I went to look for a solution.

 

Well, it turns out that in OOo there is an option (in the Tools>Options>load/Save/Microsoft Office selection) to load Excel files as OOo Calc files and/or save OOo Calc files as Excel. Selecting this option allowed me to load a Word document, edit the embedded spreadsheet to my heart's content, and then print out the forms that are needed for the auction. That made this geek VERY happy and will be a real productivity booster for us this year. If you want to see the fruits of my labor, and help keep Northridge Christian School turning out well-educated disciples of Christ, come to the Auction on March 5, 2011 and bid high.

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