esCalc Basics: Installation and Usage

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esCalc is a computing software for handling spreadsheet data. It can be used to make a spreadsheet, as well as to analyze or process the structured data it holds. The storage structure esCalc uses to store data enables users to analyze and generate many types of derived data, such as performing the year-on-year comparison, balance calculations and share allocation; or to perform various operations as needed, like sort, filter, group, multilevel merge, multilevel joins, and etc.

1. Installation

Download the installation package at the following official website: .

Then execute the installation according to these steps:

1) Run setup program;

2) Click Next to proceed and accept the License Agreement;

3) Choose the installation path and click Install;

4) Finish the installation.

If you are familiar with Java runtime environment configuration and have already installed JDK1.5 or above versions on local machine, you can choose the esCalc installation package that will not automatically install the JDK. During the installation you need to enter the local directory where the JDK is installed.

2. esCalc interface

After launching the esCalc main program, click the New button  to create an esCalc file. Alternatively, click File>New or use the hot key Ctrl+N to create one. 


In the left side of the window, the right cellset section shows the currently open esCalc file and the left hierarchy section displays the structure in which the file is organized. The setting about the data in the cellset will be covered in esCalc Basics: Cells and Data Types.

In the right side of the window, the upper cell property section is for viewing and setting properties of cells. The lower section is the selected cells for aggregation, where the aggregate operations, including sum, average and count, can be done automatically. In this section, you can also enter a self-defined formula. As can be seen from the above figure, you can set the foreground/background color and other appearance properties for the cells, as well as the data properties like display format in an esCalc spreadsheet. Spreadsheet data can be displayed as needed through different property settings.

On the top of the esCalc window, i.e. above the cellset section, lies the menu bar, tool bar and formula bar.


On the menu bar, you can choose corresponding menu items in the menu groups to perform different operations. The buttons on the tool bar offers short cuts to some most used operations. The formula bar is for viewing or modifying the cell values or formulas of the cells selected from the esCalc spreadsheet. esCalc Basics: Formulas will cover the basic knowledge about how to use formulas in an esCalc spreadsheet.

3. esCalc files

A spreadsheet opened through the esCalc can be saved as an esCalc file with the extension gex. sheet1.gex is a cellset file:


esCalc is distinguished from normal spreadsheets by its data storage style, which features storing data in hierarchically tabular form, with hierarchy section on the left for marking the level of each row of data. The above cellset, for example, has three levels: 0, 1, 2. The smaller the level number, the higher the level. A row of relative higher level is like a row group and has a minus sign appended after its number. Click the number and the rows in this level will collapse. For example, click on 1- on the left of California of the second row and the cellset will fold up like this:


You can see that the city data under California has withdrawn and become invisible. At the same time, 1- of the second row has turned into 1+. Yet by clicking on 1+, you can unfold the rows. The meanings of these number markers in the hierarchy section will be detailed in esCalc Architecture: Numbers and Levels of Rows.

To choose and open a desired esCalc file in the file manager to view/edit data, click  on the tool bar, or choose File>Open on the menu bar, or use the hot key Ctrl+O.

4. Referencing other types of files

With esCalc, you can reference files of other commonly used types – text files, Excel files and CSV files, besides using gex files directly. Click File>Open file in other format on the menu bar and the following menu list will appear:


Choose the proper item for opening the desired type of file. These items provide options to include or not include a header row in referencing data from a file of other types.

Below is a text file – states.txt:


In this text file, rows are separated by carriage returns and columns in the same row are separated by tabs. By choosing Text without header, an esCalc spreadsheet will be generated as follows:


Without a header generated, the esCalc spreadsheet will take all rows in the text file as detail data and import them into the cellset sequentially. There will be an empty header row before all the data rows. With Text with header, the first row in the text file will be imported as the column headers:


In referencing data of other types, the data imported into the esCalc cellset will only have two levels.

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