The Calc Guide for LibreOffice release 6.2 contained a lengthy appendix (70 pages) devoted to the 500+ functions available in Calc, providing a shallow list of the functions and their arguments. During the update of the document for release 6.4 in 2019, the Documentation Team agreed that it would be better to move this list to an online service, and as part of this move, to enhance the function descriptions by adding more examples, use cases and collateral information on standards, compatibility and more.
That situation provided an opportunity for us to create a documentation project to submit to Google Season of Documents 2020 (https://developers.google.com/season-of-docs), an initiative by Google to create, enhance and extend the documentation of open source projects worldwide such as LibreOffice.
The Document Foundation applied to the program on behalf of the LibreOffice Community and submitted several ideas for documentation, which included the Extensive Calc Functions Wiki pages. The Foundation received several applications, containing important information including the technical writer’s resumés, proposals for project schedule and suggested deliverables. After a careful evaluation by the project mentors, the Foundation retained the application of Ronnie Gandhi (@Krezhairo) a computer science undergraduate student enrolled at IIT Roorkee, India.
The project was targeted for three months work and ended in early December 2020. Steve Fanning, who had already worked as coordinator of the Calc Guide, served as mentor with Olivier Hallot as second mentor. Ilmari Lauhakangas and Olivier managed the administrative aspects of the project on behalf of The Document Foundation.
Monitoring the project was an important part of the task. There was frequent correspondence on the Documentation Team’s mailing list to discuss the detailed technical aspects of the work. In addition, Ronnie, Steve and Olivier met online once each week for follow-up discussions and resolution of any issues. To maximize the benefit of the opportunity provided by Google, it was decided to improve the wiki page contents with
- Statements describing each function’s compliance with the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Version 1.2 specification
- Extra use cases and examples
- Illustrations when applicable
- External references for further reading
- Identification of equivalent functions in other spreadsheet software
A useful side-effect of the project was the identification of several potential areas of improvement for Calc’s help files and the exposure of a software issue in two rarely used functions! In addition, Ronnie was able to present his work at the openSUSE + LibreOffice Virtual Conference in October 2020 and hopefully gained some insights into the role of a Technical Writer.
We are grateful for the work that Ronnie was able to carry out during this task. As all documentation related to software development, the Extensive Calc Functions Wiki is open for further improvements. If you would be interested in helping, please get it touch through the Documentation Team’s mailing list.
Access the Extensive Calc Functions Description in the Document Foundation wiki at https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Documentation/Calc_Functions.