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Subject: Interface META-Functions


one set of functions that is *missing* from every spreadsheet  is a set 
of *meta-functions* that:
 - allow sending data and commands to an external application
 - and import the results back into the spreadsheet

Spreadsheets have rather limited functionality in many fields. They will 
never attain the capabilities of dedicated software, e.g. the 
statistical analysis framework implemented in spreadsheets is a real 
fiasco, beginning with data types and continuing with the implementation 
of the statistical functions  and lack of newer statistical techniques.

However, it is difficult to implement every function inside the 
spreadsheet application, especially as complex functions are not trivial 
to implement.

This is even NOT necessary, because often advanced open source programs 
do exist which fill the gap.

However, what is lacking is *a standardized way * to communicate to 
these external programs.

This are only some suggestions, what these funcitons would look like or 
should do. As this is new land and every program implemented a different 
set of rules, there will be some difficulties in the beginning.

 1.) ITERATOR-functions to iterate through spreadsheet cells and read 
the data
       - send the data unidirectionally to  the external application: 
various types
       - retrive information back: single value; array; data-matrix; 
complex object
 2.) CONNECTIVITY-functions: establish connection; debugging; ...
 3.) Special Cases Handling: e.g. *missing values* in statistical analysis

Currently, there is a Google Summer of Code project that aims at 
integrating OOo Calc with R (http://cran.R-project.org).

I have posted on the OOo buglist a similar feature request to integrate 
Calc with gawk/awk for text processing (see 

There are many more useful programs around. A common connection 
interface and various functions to access these external programs in a 
standardized way would be welcomed.



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