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office-formula message

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Subject: Re: [office-formula] Goals/levels/packaging/complex numbers

Rob Weir said:
>> Is it only ODF-compliant if it implements a particular level of 
>> formulas?  The question doesn't even make sense, because this program 
>> doesn't even need to know about formulas.  But still it should be 
>> able to call itself ODF-compliant.
Of course.  It doesn't make sense to REQUIRE all ODF-using applications 
to support a particular set of formulas. But I think it DOES make sense 
to have a shorthand notation of some kind that says "I support formulas, 
with this common set of functions/operators".  Otherwise, when you 
create a formula, the only way to determine if it will interchange will 
be massive testing, EVERYONE has to implement EVERYTHING, _or_ you can 
never interchange.

I think a great value of standardization is revealing everyone's 
requirements, and then working to try to achieve them (presuming "not 
excessively complex" is a requirement too).  So far, the union of 
requirements looks like this:
* Don't require EVERY ODF app to support formulas
* Don't require EVERY formula-supporting app to support a massive number 
of functions; some may only want to support + - * / SUM and a 
specialized set
* Have a large set of defined functions, so that if two apps DO support 
the same function, it means the "same" thing
* Have a shorthand way of describing sets of functions (and maybe 
semantics) so that you can describe what a particular application supports
* Have some predefined sets of functions so that users can easily say "I 
need set X".

This can all be easily done in a single specification, and there are 
variety of ways to do it.

--- David A. Wheeler

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