Recently, I began to get the dreaded, “Read Error. Format error discovered in the file in sub-document content.xml at 2,2209664(row,col),” with a current document, then backups, even one several weeks old, all without making any changes. Well, except when I made 2 weeks worth of changes and they went bye-bye.
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I zeroed in on an error within a single tab of my spreadsheet, on a single row with 5 cells of text and numbers. Unformatted text and numbers at that. Not being the best XML editor (I can spell it, that’s it), I did the best thing I could, I opened up a still functioning earlier spreadsheet with that section intact, downloaded a half dozen XML editors (Settling on Ximplify) and compared the two sections of code.
So I deleted the offending lines of code, but I still got errors. New ones. Whatever was wrong was moving around the entire file, I felt like Carl the groundskeeper trying to kill the gopher, a digital version of whack-a-mole, but without plastic explosives,
I quit chasing it and found the intact section of XML with the most current version of the tab I needed, copied and pasted it into the slightly older version of the file. Saved, zipped it all back up and renamed it from .zip to .ods. Bang, I was back where I wanted with just a few lines missing from the tab the error was, easily recreated. I then went back and deleted the rows where the bad data seemed to want to crop back up. And backed it up. Twice.
But this is more than a fixit or rant, I have some suggestions here.
A single row of 5 plaintext cells in my spreadsheet rendered the entire document unreadable and unrecoverable. Quite frankly, this is unacceptable, especially for a mature piece of software like LibreOffice. A single row of historical data out of thousands is expendable, I can live without knowing exactly what happened on December 2nd, 2020.
If an XML editor can find errors, so can LibreOffice. And if they can be found, the option to have them deleted (even at the cost of minor data loss) should be possible.
The “So sorry, so sad” attitude of the community regarding users that don’t have the knowledge to edit XML files has to go. I’ve worked in IT for over 25 years, COBOL, Assembler, and Pascal were a LONG time ago, and I don’t miss them. The vast majority of XML editors aren’t written with the n00b in mind, 2 rows of 2 million-plus columns are daunting.
There are a lot of really great people on here that bend over backward to help and I applaud them. Writing how-tos is an amazing and thankless task, please keep it up.