Change Tracking, Excel, and Subjects

Change tracking is an active topic of discussion in the OpenDocument TC at OASIS. So much so that a sub-committee was formed to create a change tracking proposal for ODF 1.3. OpenDocument – Advanced Document Collaboration SC

In a recent discussion, the sub-committee was reminded that MS Excel, that change tracking is only engaged when working on a “shared workbook.”

If I am working on a non-shared workbook, any changes I make, of whatever nature, formatting, data in cells, formulas, etc., are not being tracked.

Without change tracking, what are several subjects we can’t talk about in an Excel spreadsheet?

  1. We can’t talk about the author of a particular change.
  2. We can’t talk about the author of a change relative to other people or events (such as emails).
  3. We can’t talk about a prior value or formula “as it was.”
  4. We can’t talk about the origin of a prior value or formula.
  5. We can’t talk about a prior value or formula as compared to a later value or formula.

Transparency is the watchword of government and industry.

Opacity is the watchword of spreadsheet change tracking.

Do you see a conflict there?

Supporting the development change tracking in Open Document (ODF) at the OpenDocument TC could shine a bright light in a very dark place.

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