Top 5 Open Source Alternatives To Microsoft Excel

It is no secret that Excel has always been the gold standard in the world of spreadsheet software. Any new program, which enters the marker, is inevitably compared with the Microsoft product in terms of functionality and usability. Despite the availability of competitors of any type today, Excel is still considered the best spreadsheet application for a number of reasons. Many users share this opinion but not all.

In this article, we have put together the best open source alternatives to the Microsoft software which can help you deal with data in an efficient way. Why open source? We believe such programs are more transparent and thus more secure, which is really important in our digital world. 

1. LibreOffice Calc

LibreOffice is a well-known free and open source office suite. It’s a fork of the OpenOffice project which has been significantly modified in comparison with the original. The office suite offers different features and comes with good document compatibility. Its spreadsheet application called Calc is a decent Excel alternative. The rivalry between them goes back a long way. 

The program’s interface is quite similar to the previous versions of Microsoft Office but its features are powerful enough to compete with the latest products. It has some amazing import and export functions and is said to import almost any document format. It is also known to open obsolete versions of Microsoft Office documents that people don't even use now such as Microsoft Works, BeagleWorks, etc. 

LibreOffice Calc provides all the fundamental features of Excel, such as pivot tables, charts, text to columns and much more. Some of its unique features include macros in different languages, cross-platform support and a big collection of third-party extensions.

2. Calligra Sheets

Calligra Sheets is a free spreadsheet application that belongs to the Calligra office suite developed and maintained by KDE. It’s a feature-rich calculation tool designed for creating and editing various business-related spreadsheets. 

Sheets’ native file format is OpenDocument and the application also has the ability to import other formats, including XLS (Microsoft Excel), Applix Spreadsheet, Quattro Pro, CSV, dBase, Gnumeric, SXC ( XML), Kexi and TXT. This means that you can work with various files without worrying about format compatibility.

Besides, Sheets offers support for multiple sheets per document, good formatting possibilities, plenty of built-in functions, a huge number of templates, charts, spell-check, hyperlinks, data sorting and scripting with Python, Ruby and JavaScript. In a nutshell, it has almost everything you would probably like to see in a free spreadsheet program.

3. EtherCalc

EtherCalc is a simple web-based spreadsheet application developed by a small independent community. The developers provide packages for all major server platforms, including a docker image. You can test and use the application without registration right on the official website. The export feature allows you to save your spreadsheets to XLSX, ODS, CSV and HTML. 

At first glance, EtherCalc offers a simplistic user interface that is really easy to master. The program’s features are rather limited compared to Excel. You can see that straight away when you start formatting and simply analyzing data. The data visualization capabilities are also incomplete. This can be explained by the small number of developers and the overall goals of the project.

Ethercalc doesn’t focus on the possibility to analyse large datasets but on online editing first. You can make adjustments to your spreadsheet on the go via a mobile phone or tablet. Thanks to real-time collaboration support, all changes in EtherCalc become immediately visible to other users. This is very helpful for small remote teams. 

4. Gnumeric

Gnumeric is an open source spreadsheet program distributed under the AGPL v3 license. As its name suggests, the software is designed for handling numerical data and making precise calculations. According to the developers, Gnumeric's built-in functions and tools are as accurate as possible.

Gnumeric is a very simple desktop program that doesn’t require a lot of PC resources. It starts up quickly and handles large spreadsheets while remaining responsive. This will allow you to process thousands of entries without any delay. Due to its basic design and functionality, Gnumeric may not be very good at importing documents with heavy graphics and charts.

Compared to Excel, Gnumeric delivers much faster results and processing. If you are looking for a free and fast alternative, it should be a good option. The only disadvantage is the absence of Windows support. Gnumeric is available on Linux-based distributions only. 

5. ONLYOFFICE Spreadsheet Editor

This program is part of the open source office suite developed by a Latvia-based company called Ascensio System SIA. The ONLYOFFICE project includes online, desktop and mobile editors for text documents, spreadsheets and presentations as well as various productivity tools (CRM, project management, email, calendar and more).

The native format of ONLYOFFICE Spreadsheet Editor is XLSX so it can open and edit Microsoft Excel files without any compatibility issues. The program also supports such formats as XLS, ODS and CSV, which makes it universal. Many users will find its interface familiar and intuitive because all the editing and formatting tools are grouped into tabs that are easy to navigate through. 

With ONLYOFFICE spreadsheet editor, you can visualize and sort data, use data validation, make complex calculations and choose from more than 400 built-in functions and formulas. If you have to deal with routine tasks, the program allows you to execute macros. 

Those who need online collaboration capabilities can opt for the online version or connect the free desktop app to the cloud (ONLYOFFICE, Nextcloud, ownCloud or Seafile) to edit spreadsheets with other users in real time.

Wrapping Up

That was our list of top 5 open source alternatives to Microsoft Excel software. Our aim was to give you a brief overview of each solution highlighting their key features and advantages so that you can compare them yourself and make your choice based on your needs. 

Do you know another open source Excel alternative? Let us know by leaving a comment below. 

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