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Re: io-2.4.13 released

From: PhilipNienhuis
Subject: Re: io-2.4.13 released
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2019 03:30:42 -0500 (CDT)

Olaf Till-2 wrote
> On Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 09:51:04PM +0200, Philip Nienhuis wrote:
>> and morphing the ods?????
>> functions into wrappers for their xls????? counterparts and deprecate
>> them.
>> After all, Matlab's xlsread can perfectly read .ods these days and we do
>> want to be compatible.
> According to Matlab online documentation:
> https://de.mathworks.com/help/matlab/ref/xlsread.html?searchHighlight=xlsread&s_tid=doc_srchtitle
> xlsread() is deprecated now in Matlab and readtable(), readmatrix(),
> or readcell() should be used.

Not so much "deprecated" but rather "not recommended".

Yeah, Matlab's xlsread/xlswrite have a lot of quirks that IMO are a direct
consequence of their dependence on MS-Excel behind the scenes. That might be
a reason for TMW to move away from these functions.
When I started writing the Octave counterparts ten years ago, incl. the
ods????? siblings, I tried to avoid those issues as much as I could, but
often Matlab compatibility was -and still is- in the way.

> I'm not familiar with these functions, but from the perspective of
> naming, this move of Matlab seems a good one to me. For many people,
> 'spreadsheet' (if they use this term at all) is the same as 'Excel',
> which is a misconception we shouldn't contribute to. But we would, if
> we used 'xls...()' for every type of spreadsheet.

Oh, I wouldn't quite mind if all spreadsheet I/O would be done through
functions starting with "ods" rather than "xls" in their names :-)  Or maybe
a more neutral "spsh". But then that Matlab compatibility ...

I wouldn't be surprised if the spreadsheet I/O in the io package is among
the most used of all OF package functions. FWIW, the vast majority of io
package bug reports was about .xls and .xlsx; bug reports for .ods have been
very scarce. Adding in JWE's observation (expressed at an OctConf 2018
lecture) that the user base mostly cares about Matlab compatibility I think
we'd just have to yield to spreadsheet I/O function names starting with
"xls", at least for the time being. Whether in an OF package or in core
wouldn't matter.

Mind you, for Matlab there's a Spreadsheet Link toolbox. Just guess what the
underlying external SW for that toolbox is. Hint: it isn't LibreOffice nor
any other OSS spreadsheet SW.

For readTable() and friends Octave needs to have the Table class
implemented. To my knowlegde there are no definite plans for that; there is
a prospect of a start by Markus Bergholz somewhere in (IIRC) the bug
tracker, from several years back.


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