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Subject: Additional Directives to Functions to Trigger Special Behaviour

Hi all,

recently I stumbled upon various inconsistencies in evaluating functions
in various spreadsheet applications (especially MS vs other).

Unfortunately, the interpretation of various data-types is also
inconsistent within different functions in the same spreadsheet

Especially troubling issues:
 - are errors propagated
 - is text interpreted as a number

I would not only like to see consistency within an application/s, actually
I would like to be able to control/fine tune how every function
behaves, because I might want the function to behave differently in
different situations.

I especially encourage a paradigm shift in how spreadsheets operate.
There are great solutions already implemented in various programs,
and I will briefly examine today one of these features.

The previous problem is brilliantly solved in R (http://cran.R-project.org),
where various functions can accept additional parameters
(even parameters that are not used within the function but are passed
further down to other functions called by the first one).

e.g. one may have
'a_function'(param1, param2, '...')
where '...' signifies additional parameters

Also, it is possible in R to name the parameters and use them therefore
in whatever order one wishes. This last option might be useful, IF some
of the spreadsheet functions accept a variable number of parameters,
so using '...' will be ambiguous.

Therefore, I propose to extend the definition of all relevant functions
to accept the following named arguments:

 - ignore cells that contain an error and evaluate the function
   without considering that particular cell
 - e.g MAX('various_cells_or_numebrs', IGNORE_ERR = TRUE)

 - interpret a text as a number
 - default: I am not sure
 - e.g. SUM('various_cells_or_numbers', EVALUATE_TEXT = TRUE)



Because x = TRUE might be interpreted as an ordinary number
(how do spreadsheets cope with this?), it might be useful to
use a function (like x(TURE)) that sets the state inside the
primary function. But these are rather implementation details.

This additional parameter should behave more like a special object
that triggers a specific behaviour of the function.

b.) Spreadsheet-Level vs Function-Level

I do NOT want to set these options at spreadsheet-level!

Setting them at function-level one can use various evaluations
within the same spreadsheet, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, this is
portable. When a different user opens the same spreadsheet,
the functions will be interpreted identically. With options
set globally, this isn't possible.


Leonard Mada
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