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Spreadsheets use the MVC (model view controller) paradigm.  That means
that the model (how the data are actually stored) and how you view
the data are separated.  You can take a number like 40000.5 and view it
as a date, a date and time, a real number, etc.  You can easily compare
dates because they are stored as numbers, not character strings like
"Monday, Nov. 11." Further, you can easily send your spreadsheet to
someone who only knows some language you have never heard of and s/he
can open it and display and compare the dates in whatever language 
s/he has set.

The best way to see if a cell contains a number, text, or a formula is
to use View -> Value Highlighting (F8).  (Does Excel even have this
feature?  If so, it must hidden in the ribbon somewhere.)  A zero as
text has the ASCII value 48; as a number, the value is 0, so text and 
numbers are not equal.  OpenOffice used to generate errors if one 
improperly tried to add text and a number, for example.  Along the 
way, that behavior was modified to emulate Excel.  (I prefered the 
old way along with the fact that either OOo or gnumeric or both used to
evaluate -1^2 correctly--the mathematical answer is -1, not 1.)

I just checked using Excel 2010, if you change the format (the view) of the
cell, the underlying representation (the model) does not change.

   1. Type '123 in a cell, say A1
   2. Right click and choose Format Cells, then Format as a number.
      (That is, change General to Number.)

The entry is still text.  You can confirm because =sum(A1) yields 0.
Note: =A1+0 yields 123. (Also the text is still left justified.)

That is, there is no conversion.

Best regards,

David Gast

From: Oogie McGuire []
Sent: Monday, November 11, 2013 09:17
To: Joel Madero
Cc: Brian Barker;
Subject: Re: [libreoffice-users] CALC convert text to numbers

For me dealing with an extension, installing it, making sure it doesn't conflict with something 
else was more effort than creating a column, using Value() and then pasting special.

What's a problem is that in Excel even though it also uses the leading ' to format text as numbers, 
if you change the format of a cell the conversions happen without any problems. I want that same 
behavior in Calc because to me it makes sense that the cell format should be the controlling factor 
for what type of data is in a given cell.

On Nov 10, 2013, at 7:43 PM, Joel Madero wrote:

Why is everyone straying away from the fact that there is a simple extension developed by Cor 
(one of our brilliant devs) which accomplishes all of this? Just curious if there's a benefit to 
doing these formula techniques instead of just pushing a button on a nice gui

Eugenie (Oogie) McGuire
Desert Weyr
Paonia, CO USA

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