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[libreoffice-users] Calc: let things such as formulas do the rest of the work


In a recent "Macro's in Libre Calc" thread, Andrew Douglas Pitonyak, an expert on macros, wrote:

"Be certain to only do what you really need to do using a macro, and then let things such as formulas do the rest of the work."

Good advice, which I would like to take further. It is frustrating, as a user, not to be able to use formulas to do things that a macro could do. I'd like to propose as a (long-term) design aim:

"Enrich the functionality of Calc to enable formulas and similar to do what currently needs a macro. Use experience gained to influence the OpenFormula specification."

As a simple example, take REPLACE
REPLACE("Text"; Position; Length; "NewText")
My spreadsheets would be greatly simplified if Text and NewText could be regular expressions. Currently, either I have to use macros, or use SEARCH, which does support regular expressions, and code the NewText regular expression myself. It's frustrating as the code to do what I want is in the Edit -> Find & Replace... dialog. Note that the enhanced REPLACE would be OpenFormula compliant.
Another example is character editing within a cell: I realise that this is more demanding technically.

I seek feedback, advice and, I hope, support. In particular:
1. Are there design aims, or similar, in LibreOffice? If so, who owns them: does the Engineering Steering Committee have a role here?
2. Should we progress the strategic aspects first? Or should I propose tactical enhancements such as the one to REPLACE above?
3. How should I push this forward, whether tactically or strategically?

David Lynch


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