Dan Bricklin, who is very much heads-down in the thick of single-handedly developing wikiCalc these days, has used his blog to reflect on his recent coding experiences and talks about one of the lesser known benefits of standards to developers (and ultimately the software they develop). Wrote Bricklin of his experience so far:
....as part of my minor role in the Open Document Format Spreadsheet Formula subcommittee I feel it would be embarrassing to ignore those developing standards even as I advocate for parts in them...Implementing a large part of a standard helps flesh out all of the architecture for a "complete" product....There is also the benefit that V1.0 will feel more like a "real" spreadsheet than I had originally planned and be easier to use...I'm learning the immense value to an implementor of carefully written standards documentation....I've been using the preliminary OpenFormula.org documentation as well as paying attention to some discussion on the ODF Formula committee. It really helps. Details about how to handle the strange cases are usually left out of user documentation but are an important part of a standards document. Having that documentation makes it much more likely that my product will meet the needs of a wide range of users. It also made it more likely that I would do what I did -- implement a more complete product because I know how far to go in many different areas and even the supposedly easy "6 of one, half a dozen of the other" decisions have already been made for me and documented. The ODF project is helping me even if I don't end up with a completely ODF-supporting product at first.