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Subject: Re: [office-formula] Request for Introductions - Please, introduceyourself to us!

David A. Wheeler wrote:
> Could everyone on the office-formula mailing list introduce themselves
> to everyone else, by doing a "reply-all" to this email?

Since I asked everyone to introduce themselves, it's
only fair that I do so!  My name is David A. Wheeler.
I prefer "David" (not "Dave") in person.  In written material
(like this email) I use my middle initial, because there are WAY
too many other David Wheelers.

I'm here via the OpenDocument Fellowship, a non-profit.
My main employer is IDA, a non-profit that does a lot of analyses.
Not surprisingly, I've created and used many spreadsheets over the years
to do all kinds of analyses.  In fact, I've been developing spreadsheets
for various clients and employers ever since VisiCalc came out,
and at various times in my life creating complex spreadsheets was
one of my primary sources of income.   So I come at
spreadsheets from the viewpoint of a power user.
I also have some mathematical expertise; I have a B.S. in
Electronics Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science.

I'm interested in a standard for recalculated formulas because I
am very interested in _interoperability_ between implementations.
I want to be able to create a spreadsheet and KNOW that it
will work on different platforms, on different implementations, and
that it will work decades from now.  And by "work" I mean
"get the right answer", not "it loads".  For at least 25 years I've
wanted an open standard for office-type documents, and I was
absolutely DELIGHTED when OpenDocument was developed.
However, I was horrified to see that an otherwise good standard
had a major hole: it didn't define spreadsheet formulas.  So, rather
than complain, I decided to try to be part of the solution.

Thus, I founded and led the "OpenFormula" group, which developed a
draft specification that has been contributed to OASIS.  We, the formula
subcommittee, do NOT have to use the OpenFormula contribution;
deciding whether or not to use it (and how) will be one of our first 
My goal is to get a good spec. Whether or not OpenFormula is used
to get there is NOT the issue, and that needs to be decided by the
consensus of this group.

I am _not_ a spreadsheet implementor (though I _do_
occasionally develop software).  I view that as an advantage (as chair),
because it makes me independent... I am on no implementor's "side".
Instead, I view the specification from the viewpoint of a
power user... one who has to USE the stuff the implementors create :-).

My primary goal for the specification is that it be implementable
by ANYONE (open source or proprietary, using any of their
common licenses, business models, and development models).
It should be implemented by multiple implementations (otherwise
what's the point of "interoperability"?).   I want a specification that
can cover both power users and low-resource
implementations, which is one reason why I like the idea of
creating "levels" of compliance.  We'll discuss the idea of "levels"
later; whether or not we have "levels" is a decision the group
will need to make.  I also like the idea of having
embedded test cases and notes/rationales for implementors--I
want implementations to get the "right" answer (modulo numerical accuracy
issues), without splitting hairs on interpreting text.
I see test cases in particular as a good way to get that result.

My personal website is http://www.dwheeler.com.  If you like horror films,
you can see a picture of me there :-).  My personal email address is 
(at) dwheeler, dot com.  If you're sending me personal email, I suggest
including "xyzzy" in the subject line, which will improve your chances
of getting past my egregiously nasty spam filters (Sorry about that, but
I get so much spam that I CANNOT review email that my filters think are 

We already have many implementations represented, both proprietary
and open source software, but I would _love_ to have even more.
I've already sent invitations to many, but if there are
others you can invite, please do so.

--- David A. Wheeler

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