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Subject: Re: [opendocument-users] Concerns about the way of formula standardization

Hello Jörg,

I'll try to comment:

> 1.) Why should this formula format be for spreadsheets only? Isn't it be 
> possible to make the syntax universally enough to use it in other kinds 
> of applications too?

Nothing prevents other applications from reusing a standard. TeX was 
intended for math journals and its being reused in wikis.

> 2.) Why define the formula as 'value of the table:formula attribute'. Is 
> a string really the best way to store structured information like a 
> formula?

A string is definitely the best way to store a formula. First, using 
formulas like SUM([.B1];[.C2]) makes it far easier for applications to 
support it, since they sort of support it already. Making a standard 
easy to support is a good idea.

Also, SUM([.B1];[.C2]) contains all the information needed for what it does.

> I would suggest to split the format into three sub formats:
> -A container format which describes the structure of the formula
> -A set of mathematical operators
> -A operand format which either contain the data or reference to the data 

It looks like you may be thinking of formulas in the generic 
mathematical sense. In that case, you want MathML or TeX.

Other than that, the approach you suggest strikes me as much more 
difficult for everyone, without a clear benefit. The first thing that a 
formula specification must do is look at the formulas that are already 
supported in modern spreadsheets. These are already largely standarized, 
so it makes sense to look for the intersection of supported formulas. 
Then look at the union. And define your standard somewhere in between. 
Now, this approach is infinitely simpler if you are not continuously 
translating between SUM([.A1];[.A2]) and whatever other format you defined.

> 3.) One of the great things on the OpenDocument format is, that it's 
> defined independent from the existing data structures or user interface 
> of a specific application.

Please take a look at the OpenFormula project. It is very clear that it 
defines a storage format independently of the user interface. For 
example, OpenFormula uses ; to separate parameters in a function, but 
Excel is free to keep using a , like they always have.

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