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Subject: Re: [office-formula] Decimal point in ISO specifications

Rob Weir said:
> The guideline for drafting ISO standards is ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 
> "Rules for the Structure and Drafting of International Standards". ...
> The decimal sign shall be a comma on the line in all language versions....
> Each group of three digits reading to the left or to the right of 
> a decimal sign shall be separated by a space from preceding digits or 
> following digits respectively, except for four digit numbers designating years.
> Luckily most instances of numeric literals appear to be in examples, which 
> we are planning to separate from the specification.  So we don't need to 
> worry about those.  However, we do have some embedded numeric literals. 
> For example in the CONVERT() function:
> "International acre (using international feet), exactly 4046.8564224 m2; 
> normally not used for U.S. land areas"
> Which will need to be:
> "International acre (using international feet), exactly 4 046,856 422 4 m2
> ; normally not used for U.S. land areas"

Is this mandatory?  If it is, then we'll need to comply.

If so, it's a little unfortunate, because it creates a nasty and subtle inconsistency: Syntactically, we MUST use "." and MUST NOT use "," for the decimal point in the actual language being specified, so any text that mentions examples (other than the test cases) will need to continue to use "." and MUST NOT use ",".  It may be difficult to be consistently inconsistent :-).  Obviously, this is possible; Ada, C, C++, and many other internationally-standardized languages, also use "." (and not ",") as the decimal point.  Maybe we ought to make a statement up front about this, so that people won't "help" us by changing "." to "," (or the other way) in the wrong places... suggested wording welcome.

> Another point we are violating on occasion is:
> For clarity, the symbol X [multiplication sign]  rather than a 
> point shall be used to indicate multiplication of numbers and numerical 
> values.

Eek.  In many fonts, X [multiplication sign] looks like X the letter.  How can we make sure that the multiplication symbol (where used) isn't confused with something else?  Obviously, in many cases we can just leave values adjacent like "a x" or "(5)(2)".

> http://www.iec.ch/tiss/iec/Directives-Part2-Ed5.pdf

--- David A. Wheeler

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