OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

office-comment message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]

Subject: Re: [office-comment] OpenFormulas

Gary Edwards scripsit:

> In fact, one of the things that came up this morning was the discovery 
> that both KOffice and OOo model their formulas after MS eXcel.   Perhaps 
> reverse engineering and the migration of those formulas has become such 
> an overwhelming concern that no one seemingly has the luxury of stepping 
> back and re thinking what it is we really need to be doing to break out 
> of the exhausting but never ending cycle.  Running hard to keep up with 
> the arbitrary and self serving advances of Microsoft hardly seems like 
> the kind of foundation any self respecting open standards - open source 
> community would want to stake their independence on.  But that' s the 
> hand we've been dealt.

If you think about it, that's the way it has to be.  Word-processor
documents, presentations, and such can have slight deviations due to
the translation of Microsoft's semantic model into a partly incompatible
semantic model without big problems: most documents will survive fine,
and those that don't, typically only need slight tweaks.

But spreadsheets live and die by 100% Excel compatibility in the formulas.
A subtly different formula system that produced even mildly incompatible
answers would be enough to get the whole office suite thrown out as
useless.  Excel's formulas are at bottom a copy of Lotus 1-2-3's (other
than in syntax) for exactly the same reason: Microsoft had to guarantee,
back when Excel was new, that converted Lotus spreadsheets would work
exactly the same way on it.

Spreadsheet formulas aren't a document format, they are a programming
language, and they have the same need a programming language has (if
not more so) for 100% backward semantic compatibility.  No programming
language whose arithmetic expressions were semantically incompatible with
Fortran (I'm thinking of APL with its "all operators work right-to-left
with equal precedence") has ever broken out of a niche role.

Mark Twain on Cecil Rhodes:                     John Cowan
"I admire him, I freely admit it,               http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
 and when his time comes I shall                http://www.reutershealth.com
 buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake."       jcowan@reutershealth.com

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]