Thursday, June 04, 2009

Name Conflict: Print_Area

While upgrading our Windows XP PCs from Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2003 I encountered a strange bug in the way Excel stores the print area settings.

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A user with Office 2003 could not open an XLS file created with Office 2000. An error dialog box would appear titled "Name Conflict" and containing the message "Name cannot be the same as a built-in name. Old name: Print_Area".

After some online research using the very helpful Name Manager I realized that there seemed to be a bug in the way the newer Excel interpreted the way the older version stored the print area that a user had set via the File->Print Area->Set Print Area option.

Opening the file with another copy of Office and clearing all the set print areas (using File->Print Area->Clear Print Area) allowed the user with Office 2003 to successfully open the file. This problem is also solved in this forum post although I didn't find it until I had a good idea of what was going on.

More detail: a different install of Office 2003 had no problems opening the file from the beginning. The problem file had originally been created and last modified using Office 2000 on a Windows 2000 PC.

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