OpenDocument - Formula SC

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This is the subcommittee working on a specification for recalculated formulas (e.g., spreadsheet formulas) in office documents. See About OpenFormula for more information.

Please consider joining the subcommittee if you're interested; it's time to have a fully open standard for spreadsheet formulas.

Statement of purpose

To create a specification for a formula language that should be used in OpenDocument spreadsheet documents as value of the table:formula attribute specified in section 8.1.3 where apropriate.

[Note: OpenDocument already supports the inclusion of arbitrary formula languages for spreadsheet documents. Furthermore, it already uses XML namespaces to uniquely identify the formula language used within a certain formula. The purpose of this SC therefore is not to define a formula language that covers all, sometimes very application dependent, aspects of existing formula languages, but to define an application independent and, compared to existing formula languages, possibly restricted formula language that can be used in all cases where non of the application dependent aspects are required.]

The resulting specification must meet the following requirements.

  1. It must specify a grammar for formulas.
  2. It must specify a well defined processing model. The description of the processing model should be oriented on the description of processing models of programming languages.
  3. [Note: Since office applications are implemented using programming languages, formula languages have the same platform dependence regarding the precision of float calculations as programming languages; for this reason, it seems to be reasonable to orient the the processing model specification on programming language specifications.]

  4. It must specify a basic function set. The basic function set must be extendible in future versions of the specification.
  5. [Note: Functions sets correspond to function or class libraries of programming languages. The basic function set corresponds to the build-in function or class libraries of programming languages.]

  6. It must define a method to reference implementation-defined extension functions
  7. [Note: These correspond to additional function or class libraries that are deployed for interpreted programming languages.]

  8. The specification must provide a list of implementation-defined, unspecified and undefined behaviors in the processing model.
  9. [Note: Ideally, application specific formula languages can be (re-)defined as extensions to the formula language specified by this SC. This may require extensions to the processing model, for instance implicit type conversions.]

  10. It must be friendly to conversions from and to existing office application spreadsheet formula languages.


  1. A written specifications for spreadsheet formulas in plain English that can be used with the OpenDocument v1.0 specification, and also can be included into a future version of OpenDocument. This specification shall be delivered in two phases:
    1. A specification for the formula grammar (syntax).
    2. A specification for the processing model and the basic function set(semantic).

Scope of work

The subcommittee's work is to create a base specification for a spreadsheet formula language to be used with OpenDocument. The specification shall permit the creation of OpenDocument spreadsheet documents whose formulas are exchangeable between applications.

Manner and schedule of work

The work of the subcommittee will be primarily through conference calls and a mail list set up by OASIS for subcommittee work, or other IT tools provided by OASIS for TC work. Access by the public will be through an openly available mail list archive.

Conference calls will be scheduled on a regular basis as agreed by the subcommittee after its formation.

See the "documents" section for the current draft; The Formula Work page shows current assignments. See About OpenFormula for general information.

Providing Feedback: OASIS welcomes feedback on its technical activities from potential users, developers, and others to better assure the interoperability and quality of OASIS work.