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Annual Report: TDF’s (The Document Foundation) infrastructure in 2021

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So I enabled support for up to 16384 columns in Calc by default some time ago, but just getting it to work was not necessarily the end of the work. Making Calc have 16 times more columns means that any operation that works on entire columns is suddenly 16 times slower, or even worse. Similarly this could easily lead to 16x more memory used. So the support not only needs to work, but it also needs to be usable.

It theory adding a number of empty columns to the end of a spreadsheet should not make a difference, but in practice it does. With 1024 columns it is not as necessary to ignore those empty columns as it is with 16k, and a lot of the code dates back to the times when Calc supported even fewer colums (256?), where a being little inefficient here or there didn't show. But now it suddently did.

For example, if you protect or hide all unused columns until the end of the spreadsheet, then hitting the right arrow key on the last accessible cell makes Calc check all cells to the right for whether it's possible to go into them. And checking whether a column is hidden requires searching the list of column information, which is not trivial (it's compacted in order not to waste memory). The barely noticeable cost of this with 1024 columns got large enough to cause noticeable delays. Fortunately the ColHidden() function is smart enough to return the first and last column in the compacted range where the flag is equal, the code doing the cursor navigation just up until now didn't bother using that information, but now it needed to do so.

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