moggi's blog about Libreoffice hacking

Color scales and data bars


Color scales and data bars are one of our new features in Libreoffice 3.6 You can find more new and cool features in our Release Notes.

But what are color scales and data bars?
Color scales and data bars are a cool way for spreadsheet users to quickly visualize a set of cells. Color scales allow users to automatically color a range of cells depending on their value. In contrast to normal conditional format you no longer need to specify all colors and the corresponding value, instead you can just specify the start and end point and the corresponding color and Calc will calculate the value of each cell automatically.

Data bars however are a bar inside a cell that makes it extremely easy to visualize the amount a cell value represents relative to the other cells.

But enough with this technical talk. A picture shows more than 1000 words. This screenshot shows the fictitious sales of 4 sales person during one week and uses color scales to highlight the sales per day and uses a data bar to highlight the weekly sales.

I hope you agree with me that these visual helps make it easier for anybody to see the central points  inside all these values. Now you no longer need to study each single value,  the visualization of the values will already help you understand the central points of the spreadsheet without the need of studying all details of the spreadsheet.

And what will be added in Libreoffice 3.7?
In Libreoffice 3.7 I will add some more features. Currently already implemented are AutoMin and AutoMax for data bars. These make it much more easy to control the form of the data bar. AutoMin is just a short version for the Minimum of zero and the smallest value of the range and AutoMax as maximum of zero and the largest value of the range.

In a current master build you can also already test the new export of color scales and data bars to XLSX, we even support the advanced data bar features that Microsoft introduced with Excel 2010.

Another big feature for 3.7 will be the possibility to overlap different conditional formats and if I find some time I would like to improve the new conditional format dialogs. They are not as nice as they should be because the design proposal of our amazing UX team needs these overlapping conditional formats.
Also some performance improvements are already integrated into master or will be implemented soon.