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FireCalc Spreadsheet output
Old 08-27-2013, 09:29 PM   #1
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FireCalc Spreadsheet output

The contact page said to post here for issues, not necessarily email the author?

Anyways, I chose the option to output the data in spreadsheet form.

It provides two links, an "unformatted" Excel spreadsheet and a generic spreadsheet.

Clicking on either saves a firecalc.xls file.

But these are tab-delimited. Numbers for Mac imports gibberish (looks like XML tags) and Google Spreadsheet says it looks like I'm importing a CSV file instead of a true .xls file.

So I can't get the data in spreadsheet format.

Anyone have better luck?
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:10 AM   #2
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I take it you have a Mac, so I ran FIRECALC with the Excel data option on my iPad, and then tried to open it with (iOS) Numbers. I got gibberish too, though I am sure the Mac Numbers app is far more capable than the iOs app.

Are there any other shareware apps that help convert .xls file for Macs?

And FIRECALC is no longer supported as far as I can tell, hasn't been for a couple of years, though I'd be happy to be told otherwise...
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:53 AM   #3
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OpenOffice is available for Win, Linux and Mac

How are you doing the import for google sheets ? it should handle it, https://support.google.com/drive/answer/40608?hl=en

Maybe try changing the file extension to .csv
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:56 PM   #4
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Yes, but it's not a valid xls file or else Numbers would have no problems.

It has a bunch of <td> tags bracketed around raw numbers, with one column showing 1871, 1872, and so on. (I probably need to adjust some parameters to switch between historical and other options).

Anyways <td> is HTML. If you change the extension from xls to html and drop it into a browser, you get columns and rows of numbers.

It did say it was unformatted so there's no headings or labels describing what the numbers are.

Seems like Fidelity RIP is the best for coming up with spreadsheet tables showing year to year balances. Actually, the Financial Mentor calculator also generates a good table that's very readable, but won't output any spreadsheet files.

I searched for spreadsheets that people put together and they're either too simple or too complex and some of them don't even work.

I'm surprised most of these retirement calculators don't do more with spreadsheets as far as output. They mostly have graphs with beginning and possible ending balances.

But it's helpful to see year to year numbers.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
OpenOffice is available for Win, Linux and Mac

How are you doing the import for google sheets ? it should handle it, https://support.google.com/drive/answer/40608?hl=en

Maybe try changing the file extension to .csv
It says it's not an xls file. So I changed it to .tsv and it puts numbers in cells but surrounded by <td> HTML tags, as in:

<td>xxxxxxxx<td> <td>xxxxxxxx<td>

If you drag and drop it in a browser, it's a tabular set of data, which I think are suppose to represent my annual balances.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:41 PM   #6
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Looked at this a little. The file that firecalc puts out is something other than an xls file. It appears to be text but is in html format, maybe xml, haven't dug that far into it. So that is the reason you're seeing the <td> html stuff. You can open it in notepad and see the formatting so it not a plain tab delimited file either. An XLS file is binary so it would be obvious in a text editor. Whatever it is, Excel knows how to open it but it may not be standard and google sheets thinks it is something else. Excel 2003 didn't know how to open excel 2007 files so it's not the first time.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
Looked at this a little. The file that firecalc puts out is something other than an xls file. It appears to be text but is in html format, maybe xml, haven't dug that far into it. So that is the reason you're seeing the <td> html stuff. You can open it in notepad and see the formatting so it not a plain tab delimited file either. An XLS file is binary so it would be obvious in a text editor. Whatever it is, Excel knows how to open it but it may not be standard and google sheets thinks it is something else. Excel 2003 didn't know how to open excel 2007 files so it's not the first time.
I haven't looked inside the file, but OpenOffice (which you mentioned earlier) and it's 'twin' LibreOffice have always opened it for me, as well as older versions of Excel on the Mac.

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Old 08-28-2013, 10:19 PM   #8
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It has XML tags in the file and it's a html text file. Changed the file name to .xml then tried an XML converter. It says not an xml file. OK, imported to excel as an xml file, then saved as xls file. The xls file now opens in google sheets fine. Something in the firecalc output is not recognized by google sheets...

Libre and Open are basically twins ( like you said ) Libre was forked from Open after Oracle got involved. Both should open it.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:24 PM   #9
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OK, OpenOffice opened it and I can make sense of it.

So it won't output values into the future, just use some 30 year period in the past?

I inputted 2014 but it shows 1973 to 2012
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:27 PM   #10
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So it won't output values into the future, just use some 30 year period in the past?
Sounds like you need to spend some time reading this: FIRECalc - How it Works.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:47 PM   #11
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Sounds like you need to spend some time reading this: FIRECalc - How it Works.
Exactly. Firecalc is a "backcaster" not a forecaster.
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Old 06-21-2014, 01:24 PM   #12
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I understand it uses historical data.

The UI shouldn't even bother to let you enter a starting year for the spreadsheet option without an explanation to choose a starting year in the past.
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Old 06-21-2014, 02:44 PM   #13
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I understand it uses historical data.

The UI shouldn't even bother to let you enter a starting year for the spreadsheet option without an explanation to choose a starting year in the past.
I agree that is rather confusing.

I'd prefer to see it expressed in "your age now" and then later changes (like SS, pensions, 'other spend/income') expressed in the age that event occurs. Or just 'years into retirement'.

edit/add: I realize now that I was confused by your question. I thought you meant the years for ss, pensions, other adjustments. For the spreadsheet, it HAS to be a year in the past, that is all FIRECalc has. There is no Crystal_Ball function call in the software. How would it show an output for the unknown future?

It would be a helpful reminder if it said something like - "You are planning a 30 year retirement, we have data through 2013, so a 30 year starting date must be 1984 or earlier."

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