Business Logic – Xess Standard Edition review

the Linux alternative to Excel
Photo of Business Logic – Xess Standard Edition
£49.95

Considerable interest has been shown in the development of the Linux operating system as a viable alternative to Windows in the commercial sector. A substantial range of software is already available for users, but it’s only when recognised applications are ported to the operating system that it can start to be taken seriously. Corel has started the ball rolling with a version of WordPerfect Office, soon to be followed by their other mainstream applications including Draw. Moving applications from other Unix bases is much easier and a version of the Xess spreadsheet is available for most Unix platforms.

Although this Linux version is competitively priced, don’t think that it’s anything but a fully featured and highly powerful application. As well as being a general-purpose spreadsheet, it can be integrated into other software enabling the core-calculating engine to be accessed from other programs. Typical applications include automobile and aviation design, controlling power grids, trading in securities and even monitoring spacecraft at NASA. Should you want to.

Coming from a Unix background, Xess is rich in general, statistical and scientific functions and on top of the vast selection of mathematical and financial functions there’s a range of string and matrix functions. These can be entered into formulae using standard arithmetic, conditional and Boolean operators but for those of you with the inclination and the sandals, you can also use ‘C’ language operators. Blocks of data can be moved and copied with their associated formulae and Xess has full search and replace features.

Data arrays can be sorted with five conditional keys, which is great for rearranging and tidying up data. Dynamic data links are available between separate workbooks and also between Excel and Lotus, so you can reference data in another sheet for use in your current sheet and as data is changed in the linked sheet, it will automatically change in the associated calculations.

Data is stored as encoded text and can be included in email or other documents. The software is compatible with Microsoft’s Excel – capable of writing files in XLS4 format and reading up to version 2000 – and it also supports Lotus files and will both read and write up to WK4 format. Multiple workbooks can be active at the same time and each workbook can support up to 512 sheets with 1024 columns and 99,999 rows per sheet. Which should be enough for even the most extravagant expenses claim.

Company: Business Logic


Verdict
This isn't an odd bit of £50 software that you'll try out and forget. Xess is a very sophisticated spreadsheet with a wealth of features. It's compatible with the leading software under Windows, is supported by a wide user base and is definitely worth the money. It does imply a disturbing trend, though; Linux software that's not free? Cue ominous drums...