There are certain aspects about Free Software that resonates very closely with my philosophies of life. One of that is the fact that it enables people who would like to get things done, to go ahead and get them done. This was exactly what I did for converting the Microsoft Excel template for filing Kerala VAT returns into OpenOffice Spreadsheet format.
The original Microsoft Excel template was the cause of loud hue and cry among the Free Software community because by releasing such a template in proprietary format the Sales Tax department was inadvertently forcing the dealers in Kerala to use Microsoft Office. This was definitely in contradiction to the publicly stated IT policy of the Government of Kerala.
I saw this as an opportunity to assert the power of Free Software and went ahead and converted the Excel file and the included macros into an OpenOffice file and macros that worked with OpenOffice. Before doing this I had contacted both the sales tax department and the Free Software community to confirm that nobody else was working on the same. I had worked with VBA before but never on OpenOffice basic and the associated UNO api. I felt that this was a good opportunity for me to learn the stuff as well.
In any case I spent a couple of days on this process and presto I had my OpenOffice spreadsheet for filing KVAT returns and I released the work under GPL. Wiser by as much but lagging by two days of business development. Ah well, there is a cost for everything :-).