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At 01:30 15/11/2013 +0200, Ady Noname wrote:
To be clear, the 'text' "format" of the cell shouldn't block the multiplication ...

"Text" isn't (just) a format: it's a separate data type. You can format cells as number or text, but that doesn't change what's stored in them (except that it governs how input typing is interpreted). Your desire that text *data* should be a permissible argument in mathematical formulae is a preference, of course: others may prefer that it wasn't.

... since the *content* of the cell should be independent of the way it is being displayed in the cell.

That's true, but you miss (or avoid) the point that in spreadsheets generally numbers and text are different data types of cell content. How you display the text string 1234 or how you display the number 1234 should indeed not affect the content of either cell, but it remains that the two data items are quite different. This is different from date, time, percent, currency, and so on, where what is stored is indeed just a number and the date-ness, time-ness, etc. exist only as formatting.

You should be able to use that same content in whichever way you want, whether you display the cell with leading zeroes, decimal places, as text, or in yellow.

In the situation we are discussing, it's simply not the "same content": spreadsheets allow storage of text and numbers as separate concepts. In asking for text that looks like a number and the equivalent number itself to be treated interchangeably, you are arguing for "weak typing". There are arguments too for strong typing. But surely in most information contexts, text and numbers at least are handled and typed differently? See .

All this is not to say, of course, that you cannot allow implicit conversions: it's OK to want a spreadsheet to interpret some text as the equivalent number when the value is invoked in a mathematical context, but it is important to understand that such conversion is taking place.

It's perhaps worth rehearsing here the real fundamental point (which may take some thinking about): that you can never enter numbers into a computer via a keyboard, since a keyboard handles only characters. If you type the three characters "1.2" into a cell, a (complicated) conversion from the character string to the single number they represent is performed for you - unless you choose to inhibit this by adding the leading apostrophe.

Brian Barker

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