Spreadsheet Software

The Best 6 Free and Open Source Spreadsheet Software

The Best 6 Free and Open Source Spreadsheet Software

You do not have to be a banker, a corporate or a blue-collared employee, or even a fresher out of college to encounter a spreadsheet. Regardless of whether it is Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, spreadsheets’ utility and ubiquity set it apart from other software applications in the same genre. Over the years, spreadsheets, and by extension spreadsheet tools, underwent evolution to include a host of new features and functionality, so much so that they have become indispensable for businesses - irrespective of size, scale, or even industry. 

The classification of spreadsheets, by their functions, templates, and even the size of data, represents the actual scale they operate. This blog deals with free and open source spreadsheet software, all of which contribute incredibly to business process efficiency, planning, forecasting, and tracking - besides other functions - to derive and generate value in the data stored.

Covered within are the types, features, advantages of spreadsheets, as well as the future trends that will affect spreadsheets. The free and open source spreadsheet software mentioned below fulfill every requirement that an organization may require when it comes to data standardization and reporting and for analytics - besides many more facets. 

Do not compromise on spreadsheet software’s power and big data’s tremendous advantages in the modern era. Read on to get your free and open source spreadsheet software today!        

What is a Spreadsheet? 

One of the most popular and essential productivity tools to be introduced in the last three decades, spreadsheets, consists of rows and columns, allowing for arrangement (sorting, grouping, filtering), storage, and manipulation of raw data in a table. Data formats include numbers, text, cell references, formulas, and functions.  

Spreadsheets can conduct mathematical calculations on numerical data sets to extract crucial insights. String text can be subject to several functions too. These electronic resources can store information in predefined spreadsheet templates depending on financial and inventory planning, task management, etc. Corresponding financial and statistical formulas are existent. 

Besides this, the spreadsheets help represent data in graphical formats such as graphs, charts, and summarized reports - all for more straightforward analysis of data and actionable information. Spreadsheets make it easy to represent large chunks of data in a structured and ordered manner for further processing. 

What is Spreadsheet Management Software?

Spreadsheet software helps create, maintain, and perform complex mathematical operations on spreadsheets. As stated earlier, spreadsheets allow you to store and manage data in distinct rows and columns, bringing tabular order to otherwise randomly stored information. Spreadsheet software consists of a suite of digital functions which -

  •  Help populate spreadsheets by importing data from different sources or manual-filling. 
  • Sort, filter, group, and format data within spreadsheets according to predefined rules based on user needs.
  • Perform various statistical and accounting calculations for business purposes using built-in functions and formulas on the data, such as forecasting, profit analytics, and inventory planning.
  • Use data visualization tools to represent data in charts and other graphical formats.
  • Save and share the spreadsheet, and all associated data, with ease. 

Spreadsheet programs, which contain digital spreadsheets, are replacing hard-copy accounting sheets in multiple organizations. Customers love using spreadsheet software for the accuracy and easy automation of functions and formulas over the entire cluster of assembled data.       

Must-Have Features for Spreadsheet Management Software

Spreadsheet software, as stated earlier, underwent progressions that enhanced its mathematical, shareable, word processing, and many other functionalities. Some of the essential features for a spreadsheet tool to be called a success are as follows: 

Spreadsheet Software features

How Can Businesses Benefit From Spreadsheet Management Software?

Businesses have come to be dependent on spreadsheet software owing to the depth of functionality offered. The business intelligence functionality, multi-modular data representation, painless extraction, and sharing are all eulogized facets of spreadsheet management systems. The essential benefits of Spreadsheet software are as follows - 

  • Calculation Efficiency - Using spreadsheets, various functions, and formulae, execute complex operations on individual units or groups of data in cells. It is easy to replicate the data over similar data types throughout one or more spreadsheets. Calculations also consider data format (numeric, text, or alphanumeric) and even cell storage references. 
  • Graphical Representation - The power of data representation lies not just in a tabular format but in visual cues. Research suggests that data is better memorized and retrieved when presented in graphical form. Modern spreadsheet software acquits users with multiple data visualization methods.  
  • Reduced Time - Spreadsheet software makes it easy to extract data from multiple sources and represent information that can be understood immediately. Important formulae provide a deep insight that can be translated into business decisions rapidly. The reduction in time taken to define and perform calculations on the data presented is enormous. 
  • Ease of Use - Almost anyone can use all the basic features of a spreadsheet - from the word processor to necessary arithmetic calculations. More complex functions may need specific training, but the standardized interface aids user progression. 
  • Multi-Tasking - Spreadsheets have features such as a word processor, an image processing engine, and presentation creator, all of which can be used together - alongside core spreadsheet functionality - to increase the tasks’ overall efficiency. 
  • Templates - Most spreadsheet software comes bundled with templates. They represent commonly used document formats and usually contain built-in functions and features specific to the document type. E.g., inventory spreadsheet templates will have modules and formulas specific to statistical mean and moving average for easy calculations.  
  • Collaboration - Most online spreadsheet tools facilitate real-time collaboration management tools to help users collectively identify, extract, and operate on data. 
  • Formatting - Users can avail of different formatting tools to highlight and reconfigure data represented in the spreadsheets. It thus aids user understanding and makes the spreadsheet appeal visually. 
  • Database Linkages - Use the database linking feature to channel data from multiple sources onto the same spreadsheet or different spreadsheets in the same workbook. Users can then quickly perform cross tabular functions and populate new databases from the same spreadsheet software. It is particularly useful in an organization-wide setting, where data comes from different sources for a cohesive business decision. 
  • Openness - Nothing is ‘hidden’ within spreadsheet software. All data is visible to the user, and a lack of ‘Black Boxes’ means users can quickly operate on fields to derive business inputs.

Spreadsheet software advantages

How Can Spreadsheet Software Evolve in the Future?

As with most software, spreadsheet software is continually evolving. More features are finding their way onto the spreadsheet dashboard, while there are emergent trends that look to take spreadsheet usage to the next level of efficiency. Some arising and critical trends in spreadsheet software are as follows - 

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for easy manipulation of large data sets.  
  • Voice Assisted Data Entry (VDES)
  • Big Data Analytics supports real-time data operations, formatting of formulas to support updated data, data visualization features, and a combination of structured databases. 
  • Increased Automation of administrative tasks (report generation and sharing, data extraction, etc.) 
  • Multi-platform application support for mobile devices (Smartphones, Tablets) and platform-independent operations (Android, iOS, Windows)
  • Rise of Smart Spreadsheets that allow easy sharing using multiple communication tools with linked databases. 

spreadsheet software trends

The Best Free and Open Source Spreadsheet Management Software

spreadsheet software comparison table

#1 Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is a free and open source spreadsheet software, combining functionality with flexibility. As it is an open source spreadsheet software, anyone can enhance its features to suit their needs. Furthermore, the software is easy to use, and its latest version 4.1.8, is popular with Governments, educational institutions, and IT businesses. Apache OpenOffice released under the Apache License 2.0 and contains spreadsheet software features. Data storage occurs in the International Open Standard Format, and the software can read information from any standard file type. Apache OpenOffice is installable on Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Apple Mac. 

Demo for Apache OpenOffice

Source - Apache OpenOffice

The critical features of Apache OpenOffice are: 

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Formulas & Functions 
  • Publishing Management
  • Reports 
  • Templates    

#2 LibreOffice

LibreOffice is one of the world’s most trusted free and open source spreadsheet software and a successor to OpenOffice and consists of the core spreadsheet software function Calc. The spreadsheet app uses the Open Document Format (ODF) standard for storing its files. It allows you to pull real-time data from databases in any organization to cross-tabulate and perform calculations to arrive at meaningful conclusions. Templates support built-in functions, and the ‘Scenario Manager’ tool allows for an immediate use of the ‘What if’ feature. Whatsmore, the spreadsheet program also allows for real-time collaboration. LibreOffice’s open source popularity ensures Governments, charities, and Fortune500 Companies all use it. 

LibreOffice Demo

Source - LibreOffice

The most critical functions of LibreOffice are: 

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Reports
  • Templates 

#3 Gnumeric

Gnumeric is a free and open source spreadsheet software that is part of the Gnome project. Gnumeric’s spreadsheet has a reputation for being fast and accurate in its calculations with large spreadsheets. It has a license under the GNU’s General Public License version 2 or 3, the latest version of the spreadsheet app being 1.12.48. Gnumeric has its test suite, which is available to developers to test out new Spreadsheet functions. 

Gumeric Demo

Source - Gnumeric

Critical Gnumeric features include: 

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Calendar Management
  • Charting
  • Collaboration
  • Reminders 
  • Reports
  • Functions & Formulas   

#4 Airtable

Airtable is free spreadsheet software. This spreadsheet software combines database management functionality too. You can choose the data you want from a linked database in a visually appealing manner. It helps track inventory, project deadlines, and task lists easily. You do not have to worry about the data arrangement - the spreadsheet tool filters, groups, and sorts data as per your specifications. The software offers a free trial, and the multi-view module allows you to access essential information and content from the spreadsheet rapidly.

Furthermore, the spreadsheet app allows integrations of many third-party and AirTable built applications. Automating workflows and real-time collaborations on the sheets make up the backbone of the free spreadsheet software. A base version of the software is free. 

AirTablle Demo

Source - Airtable

Airtable spreadsheet solution consists of the following features: 

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Sorting 
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Formulas & Functions 
  • Reports 
  • Templates 
  • Calendar Management

#5 Google Sheets

Google spreadsheets are one of the world’s best online spreadsheet software and are available as part of the technology giant’s productivity offerings in its ‘Workspace’ ecosystem. Google’s spreadsheets solution is accessible on sheets.google.com, via the official spreadsheet app on Android and iOS, or in the Google Chrome Quick Access Menu on the top right-hand corner. Google spreadsheets are ever-popular built-in formulas, conditional formatting features, and automatic saving. The free spreadsheet software boats of exceptional app integrations. Its multiple format view allows representation of tabular formats in charts or descriptive summaries.

Demo for Google Sheets

Source - Google Sheets

Google Sheets is popular because of the following features: 

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Sorting 
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Formulas & Functions 
  • Publishing Management
  • Templates
  • Calendar Management 
  • Charting
  • Reports

#6 Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel, now a part of Microsoft's 365 productivity ecosystem, is one of the world’s first, and still popular, offline spreadsheet software. The spreadsheet comes with rows and columns of information or data, which undergoes manipulation by the user. Excel automatically learns user patterns and sorts of data within tables, while spreadsheet templates consist of pre-built formulas. Excel Spreadsheets also help forecast trends in data, while real-time collaboration is a mainstay in the online version. The Spreadsheet Program also has Optical Character Resolution (OCR) capability to convert pictorial data into editable versions. Just like Google Sheets, Excel also converts tabular data into graphical data representations or summarized reports.  

Demo for MS Excel

Source - Microsoft Excel

The essential features of Microsoft excel are:

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Sorting 
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Formulas & Functions 
  • Publishing Management
  • Templates
  • Calendar Management 
  • Charting
  • Reports 

The market is robust in choices of spreadsheet software for businesses of all sizes. Banana Accounting, Quip, and Apple Numbers are exceptional options for average or power spreadsheet users. However, one of the most popular options is the Zoho Sheet, which we will look at in detail now.   

Zoho Sheets

Zoho Sheets is a free spreadsheet software, and it comes with its own artificial intelligence-backed data analyst program that helps you automate operations on data in your sheet. The online spreadsheet software consists of a high degree of user management and audit trails to secure databases, interactive spreadsheets for enhanced manipulation, and advanced data importing tools. Sheets is a spreadsheet solution that offers a smooth user experience and multi-platform (and in-house) application integrations. The Google Spreadsheet and Microsoft excel competitor is smart enough to remove duplicates and error-strewn datasets -focusing on accuracy, while it has over 350 functions to aid user analytics. 

Zoho Sheets Demo


Source - Zoho Sheet

The core features that define Zoho Sheets are:

  • Access Control
  • Activity Log 
  • Collaboration
  • Data Sorting 
  • Data Filtering 
  • Data Sorting
  • Formulas & Functions 
  • Publishing Management
  • Templates
  • Calendar Management 
  • Charting
  • Reports

Conclusion

In a recent survey, 75 percent of organizations polled admitted to using spreadsheet solutions more than any other productivity software type. Another study conducted - specifically in Finland - revealed that 70 percent of pollers between the ages of 16 and 24 and 67 percent of pollers between the ages of 25 and 34 used spreadsheet software as their number one data organization and operation tool.

The evolution of Spreadsheet Software has helped it climb the top of organizations’ and managers' wish lists. Software such as DronaHQ, SmartSheet, and OnlyOffice is quickly catching up to the competition with little to no difference in their product offerings. The race for productivity application dominance starts and ends with spreadsheet software, but the race is still evolving. If you are still having trouble deciding the best software for your use and business needs, read our exceptionally curated Buyer’s Guide. 

If you have used any of the software mentioned in GoodFirms’ list, let us know what you experienced on the Feedback portal. Use the comments section to highlight your opinion of this blog. Be sure to check out GoodFirms’ extensive software directory for all your software needs. 

Jason Adams
Jason Adams

Jason Adams is a writer with a keen interest to continue learning and develop his research abilities. An avid reader and an eye towards growth, he is associated with GoodFirms, a frontline, and evolving reviews and rating platform.

Be first to respond
Write Comment
The Best 7 Free and Open Source Data Analysis Software
Data Analysis Software
The Best 7 Free and Open Source Data Analysis Software

In recent times, data has played a critical role in strengthening the world economy, just like gold or oil rigs. It has a huge impact on enhancing the consumer-client re ... continue reading

The Best 7 Free and Open Source Collaboration Software
Collaboration Software
The Best 7 Free and Open Source Collabor ...

"Great Ideas Emerge When Different Minds Work Together." Every modern business today is aware of the significance of Tea ... continue reading

The Best 7 Free and Open Source Productivity Software
Productivity Software
The Best 7 Free and Open Source Producti ...

When it comes to defining productivity, you may get different sets of definitions. But the classic definition of product ... continue reading

GoodFirms