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Subject: Re: [office] YEARFRAC, etc.


robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> Patrick Durusau <patrick@durusau.net> wrote on 04/14/2008 04:53:55 PM:
> > Rob,
> >
> > OK but if I understand David Wheeler's point, it is the case that no 
> one
> > has reverse engineered the proper definition for YEARFRAC.
> >
> > So, having "spotted the problem," have you suggested a solution?
> >
> Microsoft should document what Excel does when it calculates YEARFRAC 
> and it should do it completely and unambiguously.
Yes, and you knew when you wrote that line that I completely agree. But, 
the situation is that it didn't but noting that doesn't get us any 
closer to a solution. Which is what I want, a solution.
> > Yes, a lot of other people have failed to come up with the solution, so
> > how does that observation help? None of those reporting the problem 
> have
> > offered a solution either.
> >
> See above.  The solution is for OOXML to document Excel's behavior. 
> That is the purpose of OOXML after all, as stated in their scope 
> clause.  Since Excel is a proprietary, closed-source vendor product, 
> no one but Microsoft can peer inside to answer this question.
> In any case, by raising the issue to your attention I'm hoping maybe 
> that you can use some of your contacts to get an answer we can use. 
>  You are our SC34 liaison, right?  I'd rather not wait until October 
> for SC34 to figure out how they want to do maintenance.  Perhaps you 
> can enter a defect report to SC34 on this question, give Murata-san's 
> new ad-hoc something concrete to work with.  If it will help, I can 
> draft the defect report, we can approve it at a future TC call, and 
> you can get it off to SC34 as soon as the official final text of OOXML 
> is released.
I was unaware that YEARFRAC was still broken. I have sent out requests 
through non-official channels pointing this out and the absolute need 
for a fix. But yes, let's also file a defect report about this and any 
other formula issues as soon as the list goes up. Actually I will pursue 
them separately as well.

Now, aside from simply saying that YEARFRAC is still broken, can someone 
rather plainly tell me in what way it is still broken? As compared to 
what? I assume that the current definition does not provide a definition 
that is compatible with all the variations on YEARFRAC over the years.

If that is the question, then we need to ask it in that way. That is, 
define YEARFRAC for Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2003, etc. (I skipped 
the service packs). Otherwise, if someone were to ask me to define 
YEARFRAC, I would come up with the definition that I want to use going 
forward and simply ignore all the legacy stuff. Yes, spreadsheets would 

However, even more spreadsheets will break if you preserve the various 
definitions of YEARFRAC as not every application will implement all of 
them and some will fail gracefully and others will not. It really is a 
legacy support issue.

Does that help?

Hope you are having a great day!


PS: And yes, while there are no definite structures in place, I am 
confident that the WG that will be formed to maintain OpenXML will be 
aggressive about its maintenance responsibilities. I realize that most 
of the members of the TC don't know members of SC 34 but I have spent 
almost a decade working with them and have every confidence in their 
abilities. For example, MURATA Makoto, the anticipated convener of WG 4, 
originated with Jame Clark RELAX-NG.  Several of the architects of the 
markup paradigm are still active members of SC 34 so I think it should 
be given an opportunity to do its work.

> > Here is how to move off dead center:
> >
> > 1) Agree that YEARFRAC has not been fully/properly/etc. defined
> > 2) Agree that both ODF and OOXML need to have the same "proper"
> > definition of YEARFRAC
> > 3) Either derive one ourselves or in concert with others who are
> > concerned about the same issue (others being a reference to OOXML)
> > 4) See that both we and anyone else with a formula standard uses the
> > result of #3.
> >
> > Granted that doesn't provide many opportunities for clever remarks but
> > none of that is going to be found in ODF 1.2.
> >
> > Hopefully a good definition of YEARFRAC will be.
> >
> > Hope you are having a great day!
> >
> > Patrick
> >
> > robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> > >
> > > Keep in mind the history of these date basis definitions in OOXML.
> > >
> > > I first reported the problem on July 9th, 2007.  This became part of
> > > the comments the US submitted along with our ballot response in Sept.
> > >
> > > Ecma, in their response to the ballot comments failed to fix the
> > > problem.  They botched the definitions.
> > >
> > > The DIS 29500 BRM in Geneva, failed to fix the definitions.  For lack
> > > of time the BRM decided to accept Ecma's defective text changes.
> > >
> > > So what we end up with now, went 100% through the Ecma, JTC1 and SC34
> > > processes.  No one along the way has managed to correct these errors.
> > >
> > > These errors have already been reported, botched and approved any
> > > ways.  I'm not sure repetition of the same process by the same people
> > > is necessarily going to lead to great improvements.
> > >
> > > In any case, from the ODF 1.2 perspective, I think we have no choice
> > > but to ignore OOXML's definitions and try to reverse engineer
> > > Microsoft Excel.  It could be a good marketing statement -- OOXML may
> > > be better at calculating wrong leap years and incorrect footnote
> > > placement like Word 95 did, but only ODF defines financial 
> spreadsheet
> > > functions in a way which is compatible with current and legacy
> > > versions of Microsoft Excel.
> > >
> > >
> > > -Rob
> > >
> >
> > --
> > Patrick Durusau
> > patrick@durusau.net
> > Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
> > Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
> > Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
> > Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)
> >

Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

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