Opening Johan’s Quattro Pro files in Quattro Pro 6 for Win 3.11

I read Johan's fascinating post this morning about the obsolescence of Quattro Pro formats. In the post he included a set of Quattro Pro spreadsheets and invited others to try to access them using the original software or an old version of Excel.

Luckily I have an old version of Quattro Pro available so I thought I'd give it a go. The results are quite interesting (I believe anyway!).

I was going to post this as a comment but found it was a bit unweildy due to all the pictures so decided to just post another blog. 

I don't have Quattro Pro for DOS readily available but I did/do have Quattro Pro version 6 for Windows 3.11 installed on a disk image already. So I downloaded Johan's files and tried opening them in it . 

To do this I had to add them to a floppy disk image (I used WinImage for that) and attach that to the QEMU emulated machine using the Qemu Manager GUI for Windows:

I then started opening the files. 

Beginning with the KBASE.WQ1:


Interestingly, two of the columns that caused issues for Johan when opening the file in the most recent version of Quattro Pro, also casued issues in version 6. The data was displayed as *****s This was rectified by increasing the width of the columns:

The KBASE.WQ2 file was identical (from what I could ascertain):


Things started to get interesting with KS4001.WQ2:


The chart in the screenshot is very different to that in Johan's screenshot:

KS4001.WQ2 in QPX7


I decided then to try saving the file to a format that more recent software could open. I tried XLS, Lotus 1-2-3 (v3) and Quattro Pro v6 as Johan had noted that LibreOffice could open that Quattro Pro version:

Save-as Options QP6

Once I'd saved those versions I tried opening them. First I tried the XLS file in Excel 2010. Once I'd turned of security settings that prevented me from "editing" the file, I was able to open and fully interact with it. However the Chart was completely missing and the rounding appears to have changed in many cells:

KS4001.xls in Excel 2010

I was unable to open either of the other versions in Excel 2010 (it did not "recognize" the formats).

I then tried opening both the XLS file and the Quattro Pro 6 file in LibreOffice Calc v4.1.3.2 and the both opened similarly to how the XLS file opened in Excel 2010:

KS4001.WB2 in LibreOffice Calc v

The Lotus 1-2-3 file would not open at all in LibreOffice. 



I then opened the KS4000.WQ2 spreadsheet, like with Quattro Pro X7 it asked me what I wanted to do with the hotlinks (it is amazing how similar the functionality is actually):

KS4000.WQ2 in QP6

I first selected "Open Supporting" and this was the result:

KS4000.WQ2 - open supporting

In this case it appears that Quattro Pro 6 was able to find the supporting spreadsheet and update the links. I am reasoning that that happened as when I go to the "Notebook –> Update Links" menu and choose to "Change Link…"

Update Links Menu

 I was shown the following dialogue box:

Change Link

Which appears to give me an option to change the links away from the (presumably) already linked "KSBASE" file. Importantly, the folder the KS4000.WQ2 file loaded from was the same folder that both of the KSBASE files were available in also. This may be a prerequisite for Qauttro Pro 6 to be able to automatically reestablish the links between the files. Alternatively, the original link in the KSBASE file may have been a relative link to that file in the same folder as the master KS4000.WQ2 file. 


This was quite a rush job, and if my experience from undertaking the Rendering Matters research is anything to go by, doing this more thoroughly would take longer (9 minuts per file once setup, on average), but uncover more differences. 

I've uploaded the converted files for others to look at (in a zip file – the blog software wouldn't accept .WB2 format!?).


I don't have much to say about all of this here. I did this as a direct response to Johan's request. I'd be interested to hear what others think about what Johan has uncovered, especially in the light of these attempts to migrate/openthe content using other modern software

If there is anything else others would like me to try with these files let me know. I have Lotus 1-2-3 and an early version of Excel installed on the same disk iamge so I could try other migration paths that might, for example, preserve the chart in the KS4001.WQ2 file. 





By Euan Cochrane, posted in Euan Cochrane's Blog

29th Oct 2014  6:24 PM  13345 Reads  1 Comment


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