Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
DataPilots are OpenOffice.org Calc's equivalent of what MS Excel and other spreadsheets call pivot tables. Under any name, they are a tool for extracting and summarizing the information contained in spreadsheet cells in a more convenient form. Using a DataPilot, you can immediately see relationships between different pieces of data that would be difficult -- if not impossible -- to find using formulas, and tedious to extract manually. In effect, a DataPilot gives you something of the power of using a database without actually switching out of a spreadsheet. Small wonder, then, that over half of spreadsheet users are said to use datapilots or pivot tables.
To understand the usefulness of DataPilots, imagine that you are a manufacturer selling Ogg Vorbis music players in the North American market. Your product comes in two colors, beige and black, and in 80, 150 and 300 megabyte sizes, and is sold in sales packs. For each sale, you record the number of display packs sold, and the total price. On a spreadsheet, some of your data might look like this: