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Subject: [OASIS Issue Tracker] Commented: (OFFICE-3768) 4.7 Empty Cell terminology

    [ http://tools.oasis-open.org/issues/browse/OFFICE-3768?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel&focusedCommentId=31425#action_31425 ] 

Andre Rebentisch commented on OFFICE-3768:

I was wondering whether "value" (*) is really the appropriate phrase but you find it in the present definition. More likely the meaning is "has a (data) type". As I understand it "Empty Cells" have no data type. They would not by default resolve as numeric typed "zero" values or TEXT typed empty strings, or Errors --- but still the formulas define how to process Empty Cell input. The "Empty Cell" as we find it has just a negative definition, but you still may be in a situation to either ignore it, transform it into a value or propagate an Error. Some parts of the spec deal with these cases. Again you may wonder if the authors actually wanted to address the case of 'the' "Empty Cell" or (the common sense case of) a cell which is empty. In my opinion the term "unassigned cell" is safer because it does not conflict with preconceptions.

> Note that "empty cell" appears in 19.686 table:operator in part 1. Unfortunately, we don't define "empty cell" for part 1.

In this case "empty" is the simple English attribute of a cell, a table cell.

(*) The concept of "values" also causes confusion bc the value of a cell could be "3" (TEXT) or its numeric transformation 3. It could be the TEXT "3 * 3" or the Formula 3*3 or the numeric value 9, but a numeric value of the TEXT "3 * 3" could also be a NaN-Error or 0. The way how formula descriptions deal with these issues is quite a bit hackish and often adds more ambiguity bc the ontology/terminology is not precise or appears to be addressed at an inappropriate level.

> 4.7 Empty Cell terminology
> --------------------------
>                 Key: OFFICE-3768
>                 URL: http://tools.oasis-open.org/issues/browse/OFFICE-3768
>             Project: OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC
>          Issue Type: Improvement
>          Components: OpenFormula
>    Affects Versions: ODF 1.2
>            Reporter: Andre Rebentisch
> The terminology "Empty Cell" in the specification creates semantic confusion because we also find the empty string of type Text. The term makes parts of the specification ambigious and unintuitive to read, for instance (cmp. OFFICE-3764) in 4.11.8 "For =, if the value is empty it matches empty cells."
> The definition in 4.7 reads "Empty Cell - An empty cell is neither zero nor the empty string, and an empty cell can be distinguished from cells containing values (including zero and the empty string). An empty cell is not the same as an Error, in particular, it is distinguishable from the Error #N/A (not available)."

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