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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: [DISCUSS][CALC] String content to numeric value
Date Sat, 28 Jul 2012 17:26:51 GMT
@Andreas: Your analysis needs to be broken down into parts and carefully examined.  Thank you
for the extensive commentary.

For now, I have only general remarks:

I agree.  The ODF 1.2 OpenFormula specification does not address entry, display, cell formatting,
and import/export cases.  There is ambiguity (and explicit implementation-dependency) with
regard to text type where Number type (or date-time and time interval) are expected.

Nevertheless, an implementation can be precise where the specifications are either incomplete
or when it is out of scope for the specification.

I also agree that failing hard is, in this case, superior to failing quietly and unpredictably
by default.

The problem with entry parsing when the type of the cell is not considered leads to the problem
of differentiating between 20120728 as a date or a number.  I agree that on entry, locale
is a consideration if that and ambiguities such as 120711 are to be dealt with.  I favor your
suggestion that a locale be provided to VALUE() and I would go to the cell format level too.
 There are similar problems when multiple currency notations are used on the same sheet, etc.
 Time zone also matters although it takes a crafty user to sort that out.

As a general principle, perhaps the idea is to ensure that fluent spreadsheet users can have
ways to say precisely what is wanted and have guidance in determining where and when that

For the casual users, it will take great art to assist them in avoiding likely pitfalls while
also not frustrating them and especially in not having users feel stupid.  

 - Dennis

PS: I worked for Bob Bemer at the time ISO 8601 dates were being proposed in the 1960s.  I
began using yyyy-mm-dd and yyyy-mm-dd:HH:mm (now correctly done as yyyy-mm-ddTHH:mm) immediately
and have continued to do so.  I train my computers and software to use it (although OpenOffice-lineage
Calc is rather uncooperative).  There was an effort to have check printers provide for ISO
dates in the date field of hand-entered bank checks.  It didn't take in the US.  I use them
any how and on many other documents where a date is requested (unless it specifies an exact
format and boxes the digits must fit in).  I have never received a complaint.  I don't set
the household clocks to 24-hour format because it confuses other family members.  But all
others under my control have that format.  And, as someone who engages in international conference
calls, I am comfortable with UTC.  I prefer that meeting times be announced in UTC so there
is no question what local time that will be for me, wherever I am.  Someday, my calendar software
will get this right all of the time, as it is pretty close but recuring appointments tend
to be mangled as the result of daylight-time transitions.  Not everyone is so fussy and there
is need to be of practical assistance nevertheless.

-----Original Message-----
From: Andreas S├Ąger [] 
Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2012 05:14
Subject: Re: [DISCUSS][CALC] String content to numeric value

Am 27.07.2012 08:20, Dennis E. Hamilton wrote:
> There are several matters here.
> First, the rules for OpenFormula apply to literals as argument and to references to cells
where the value is of type text and the expected type is Number.

The current rules for implicit conversions used to be clear and 
consistent in OOo 2. The current compromise which converts integers and 
ISO dates is still reasonable. Excel gives different results depending 
on the language version.

[... lengthy elaboration of comments that deserves careful attention.  Thanks Andreas. ...]

That's it for now.


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