Monthly Archives: December 2014

Pokémon Deck List Sheet Despite OpenOffice Weirdness

Since I’ve been running Pokémon League Challenges (our next one is 20th Dec 2014), I’ve had no end of issues with deck registration sheets. For one thing, it takes ages before anyone uploads one after a new set releases. More annoying to me as TO (tournament organizer) is that all of the available sheets use American civilian–standard middle-endian dates, but the Pokémon website and tournament software both use the Internet-standard big-endian dates (fun fact: most countries in the world use little-endian dates, as I did above), so adding new players to the software is a bigger hassle than it needs to be – especially with my oft pain-fogged mind.

So it took me several months, especially since I had to track down the official abbreviation and set symbol for Phantom Forces, but I finally finished my own deck registration sheet. Further complicating things is a strange problem I was having with OpenOffice, but I’ll cover that in its own section later.

The first obvious difference you’ll see is that it has the set symbols and abbreviations for every set currently legal in both Standard and Expanded events, with a separate table for each format. That way you don’t need two different registration sheets if you run or attend events using both formats. At the WNC Pokémon League, for instance, we alternate the two formats from season to season.

As with everything I intend to be printed out by end users, I designed it to use as little as ink as possible. That’s why the table that lists all of the Standard-legal set symbols and abbreviations ends with several blank lines, intended to serve two purposes. The first is to eliminate the need to wait for me or anyone else to add new sets by giving you space to write in newly-released sets and their abbreviations as soon as you need them. Those lines also mean that copies leftover from past events will never go to waste since up to four sets released after the sheet was printed can be added to it.

It is my intention to upload a new revision every time there is a new set release or rotation, so the link above should always lead you to the newest version.

Now my weird OpenOffice issue. If you are only here for Pokémon and have no interest in the finer points of OpenOffice, you can skip the rest of this post.

If you work with complex documents a lot, you may be aware that OO Writer is terrible at formatting tables, so it’s much, much easier to make them in Calc and paste them into Writer. Fortunately, Writer is as much a low-end desktop publishing program as it is a word processor, so it handles the insertion of layered objects very well, especially if you put all of the individual components into separate Frames like I do. As an example, the deck sheet linked above has five frames in addition to the five embedded tables. My most complicated character sheet to date, for HackMaster 5e, has 16 distinct frames in addition to inserted Calc tables.

So what was weird? When I pasted the format tables into Writer the set symbols vanished. I belatedly remembered that you can’t link* in the images if you want to copy the table to another document. So I tried embedding* a single set symbol into Calc, then copied the table into Writer. As expected, it successfully copied the embedded image but not the linked ones, so I set about replacing all of the linked images in Calc. But when I pasted the final table into Writer, it still only pasted that first embedded image.

Because Writer is so bad at tables, I decided to just make the whole thing in Calc even though Writer’s Scribus-like features make some parts of the job much easier. As expected, managing some of the fiddlier bits of arranging various elements on the page in Calc proved to be a great deal more work than in Writer, but there didn’t seem to be any alternative – until, on a whim, I tried to copy Standard table into a different sheet in the same document and was pleasantly surprised when the images actually went along for the ride.

Naturally, my next move was to try to paste it into Writer, and it worked perfectly, so I went back to designing the whole thing in Writer. Even weirder is that up until then the set symbols would all move slightly every time I opened the spreadsheet. For some unknown reason, the first time the images stayed put upon loading was the same time that they also successfully traveled from Calc to Writer. They have remained in place ever since.

So my question for you OO experts out there is: do you have any idea why all of that happened? Specifically, why couldn’t I paste the embedded images? Why would they move around randomly? And why did they suddenly start behaving?

* There are two ways of adding images to an OO document: linking and embedding. A linked image is simply referenced by the document, much like Web hyperlinks, making the resulting document much smaller, but if the document is copied to another computer then the links break so the images don’t appear. Actually embedding the images makes the document more portable, but also larger.