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Subject: Re: [office-comment] Text in OpenFormula - inadequate for international use

On Wed, May 5, 2010 at 12:09 PM, David A. Wheeler <dwheeler@dwheeler.com> wrote:

> The primary purpose of all spreadsheet formulas is to calculate *numbers*, not *text*.  *No* spreadsheet implementation is good at processing text, because that's not what they're intended for.  Often, the rare text processing at all is stuff like "show the number of * as shown in this other cell", which does not depend on international characters.

Hi, David,

I haven't thought this through to its implications for the spec, but
I'll flag for your consideration the fact that formulas are used in
word processor tables as well as in spreadsheets. In the word
processor context, it would not surprise me to learn that text content
is far more common than numerical content.

Again in the table context, the use of formulas to echo text in
different portions of the document is pretty common, e.g., the title
of a legal document in its caption, in a footer, and in the
certificate of service. Commonly such documents begin as a template
file that already includes the necessary tables and floating cells,
coupled with a fill-in-the-blanks script dialog to populate the cells
without re-keyboarding.

I do not know whether this would be affected by the ASCII/Unicode
choice in context, but it's a use case that definitely should not be
confined by the ASCII character set to the exclusion of support for
non-Western languages.

By the way, thanks for hanging in there on the Open Forumula project;
I suspect it will become the most enduring work product of the ODF TC.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell, J.D.

Universal Interoperability Council

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