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Subject: SUCCESS!!! OpenFormula specification is DONE! I plan to step downfrom the TC. Thank you, everyone! (xyzzy)


I believe we have SUCCESSFULLY defined how to store and exchange recalculated formulas in office documents.  That was my goal, so I intend to leave the TC at this point, and I am very grateful to everyone.  THANK YOU.  For those who aren't familiar with the story of the formula subcommittee, please let me give a brief background and why I plan to leave.

Years ago I was delighted to see a standard way to store office documents and exchange them between different suppliers' products: OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument).  People around the world create office documents, so this is a standard the world *really* needed!!  However, I was deeply troubled when I discovered that this specification did not include a standard way to exchange recalculated formulas, such as those used in spreadsheets.  I thought this was an important weakness in the specification.  So I talked to others to see what could be done, and started work that might fill this void, including recruiting people to help.

I am *delighted* to report that we now have a specification for formulas: OpenFormula, part 2 of the current draft of the OpenDocument format.  Now the world has a standard, developed by multiple suppliers, that lets people store office documents for future generations and exchange office documents between different suppliers' products, that includes recalculated formulas.  There are still some procedural steps, but I have high hopes that at this point we are essentially done.

This work was *not* done by just me, of course, or even primarily by me.  A *vast* number of people worked directly and behind the scenes to make it happen.   I cannot possibly list them all.  I *can*, however, express my great gratitude to them.  THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  You - and there are many of you - have made this a success.  Again, thank you so very much.

The reason I joined this OASIS technical committee (TC) was to help create this formula specification and turn it into a reality.  Making a *real* standard, one agreed on by multiple parties, takes a lot of work - as all of you well know. We developers of the formula specification discussed details such as what 0 to the 0 power should mean, date basis systems, odd unit systems, and many other details like that, because addressing detailed issues is necessary to create a *good* standard.  We got a *lot* of participation by various spreadsheet suppliers; implementers even changed their implementations to conform with the draft spec as it was being developed!  This work took time, but the point was to create a specification people would actually *use*, not just put on a shelf, and that made the extra time worth it.

Now, finally, that work appears to be done.   As I noted, there are a few procedural steps before the current spec becomes an official standard; change is always possible.  Also, I'm sure there will be clarifications and additions over time, as with any standard in use.  But at this point, I think my goal has been accomplished, and I am grateful.

So, I think now is a good time for me to make a graceful exit from this TC.  After all, my goal has been accomplished. So, I intend to step down as subcommittee chair of the formula subcommittee *and* to leave this TC.  I want to make this a smooth transition; let me know of any problems or something I must do first.  The TC chair will ably handle any issues, I'm sure, and I've been talking to the chair about transition.  Technically there are still some procedural steps and there's a potential for issues; if there's a need for me to stick around to wrap up something, I'll do so.  I'll probably just stop attending TC meetings without doing anything else immediately; that will make it easy to reinstate me in the near term to deal with something unforeseen.  Even after I leave the TC, I'll be accessible via email if you want to get a hold of me (see http://www.dwheeler.com/contactme.html).  However, once everything is formally completed and you want to change the spec further, well, please contact the TC, that's what it's for :-).  I expect that the current formula subcommittee will be rolled into the main TC, since it will almost certainly have a different role now (mainly bug-fixing and smaller extensions).  But that is up to those who follow me within the TC.

This has been a GREAT SUCCESS.  We got a LOT accomplished.  Most importantly, we got something important accomplished for the world. THANK YOU, EVERYONE who helped in whatever way.   I hope to have the chance to work with you in future tasks.

--- David A. Wheeler

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