What is OpenFormula and why should you care?

by Jean Hollis Weber

Related link: http://www.openformula.org/

OpenFormula is a specification for computed formulas (particularly spreadsheet formulas), intended to supplement the OpenDocument specification, to meet the need to be able to exchange spreadsheet data.

The OpenFormula Development Group has a wiki located at http://www.openformula.org/
(hosted by the OpenDocument Fellowship) and a mailing list on SourceForge,

David A. Wheeler, the man behind OpenFormula, said, "We've used spreadsheets for decades; it's time to standardise them. Please join the mailing list if you're interested. We could use the help."

The fundamental goal of the group is to develop a specification for exchanging formulas (at least spreadsheet formulas for OpenDocument) that is implementable by ALL proprietary and open source software projects, using ANY and ALL of the common licenses, business models, and development models for them; this must be true in perpetuity for itself and any formally approved derivatives. Specifically, the specification MUST be implementable using licenses such as Microsoft's Office 2003 license, the Corel Word Perfect Office 12 Home Edition license, the GNU GPL, LGPL, MIT, BSD-new, and the MPL.

OpenFormula is designed to smoothly fit with OpenDocument. An OpenDocument document implementing the strict schema and the specification MAY NOT use any extensions in formulas (including additional functions) beyond the semantics and syntax described in the specification, since there is no guarantee that other receiving systems would be able to process it.

The OpenDocument attributes that use formulas at the time of this writing are text:formula, text:condition, table:formula, draw:formula, and anim:formula.

You may have seen some of David A. Wheeler's insightful articles on OpenDocument, including "Answering Microsoft: Comments on Microsoft's Letter to MA" which was published 30 Oct 2005 on Groklaw, http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20051029212458555.