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Comma causes different behavior in FIRECalc
Old 06-10-2012, 08:56 AM   #1
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Comma causes different behavior in FIRECalc

I just noticed that if I use a comma in the spending field then I get a different result.

For example, if I use 75,000 then I get 100% success but if I use 75000 then I get 91.8% success.

I expected the behavior to be consistent.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:59 AM   #2
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Forrest Gump says: Don't use commas
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:08 AM   #3
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This looks like a bug!
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:23 AM   #4
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Maybe FIRECalc infers that if you are the kind of person who uses commas, then your attention to detail will help you make necessary adjustments in retirement.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tapper View Post
I just noticed that if I use a comma in the spending field then I get a different result.

For example, if I use 75,000 then I get 100% success but if I use 75000 then I get 91.8% success.

I expected the behavior to be consistent.
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Originally Posted by wanaberetiree View Post
This looks like a bug!
A bug? Why would you enter commas in numeric fields? If you manually enter commas in Excel or most apps for the past 50 years, it will think you've made a text entry vs numeric. Having apps that differentiate can be a helpful feature...
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:35 AM   #6
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A bug? Why would you enter commas in numeric fields? If you manually enter commas in Excel or most apps for the past 50 years, it will think you've made a text entry vs numeric. Having apps that differentiate can be a helpful feature...
Because there is no difference between 75000 or 75,000 or 75,000.00 or $75,000

And this is what majority of users would expect.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:45 AM   #7
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A bug? Why would you enter commas in numeric fields? If you manually enter commas in Excel or most apps for the past 50 years, it will think you've made a text entry vs numeric. Having apps that differentiate can be a helpful feature...
Not quite true...try it yourself. Open Excel. Check the format of the cell, should be "general." Then type in 12,000, press enter. Go back to this cell and you will find that Excel converts the cell type to "Number." Been that way as long as I can remember.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:58 AM   #8
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Not quite true...try it yourself. Open Excel. Check the format of the cell, should be "general." Then type in 12,000, press enter. Go back to this cell and you will find that Excel converts the cell type to "Number." Been that way as long as I can remember.
Fair enough, I shouldn't have used Excel as an example. But I still don't expect all apps to be smart enough to understand hard entered commas in numeric fields. Having started programming in the 80's, not unlike many here I'm sure, when entering commas in numeric fields was verboten - I guess I'm in the habit of not doing it to avoid problems. YMMV
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:12 PM   #9
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My C programming input functions do not allow commas. FIRECalc is most likely assuming that $75,000 is actually $75. Check your output numbers to check. A good idea anytime.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wanaberetiree View Post
Because there is no difference between 75000 or 75,000 or 75,000.00 or $75,000

And this is what majority of users would expect.
If you are in Europe, there is a big difference between 75000 and 75,000
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:50 PM   #11
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This is a bug. If commas are not allowed, FireCalc should issue an error message.

I just discovered that if you set spending to xyz and starting portfoio value to abc, the result is a 100% success rate.

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Old 06-10-2012, 02:47 PM   #12
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This is a bug. If commas are not allowed, FireCalc should issue an error message.
I wouldn't dream of putting a comma in an input number, but I'm also a programmer. It's not unreasonable to defend against Joe Average doing so. The code could either strip out all non-numeric characters (0-9 and period) when validating the input, or have a little bit of Javascript sitting on the input box which refuses to allow anything other than those characters to be typed.

Actually, in the general case, this is a much harder problem, because most European countries use a comma as the decimal point. So if a European user entered 123,45 and you stripped out the comma, this would become 12345. However, /a/ not many Europeans use FIREcalc and /b/ not many people enter cents. But, in any case, it's elementary good design for the system to include a summary of what you input, before giving you the results, so that you can see how it interpreted your input. This is, AFAIK, also missing from FIREcalc's output.
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I just discovered that if you set spending to xyz and starting portfoio value to abc, the result is a 100% success rate.
I'm guessing that they both evaluate to zero.
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Old 06-10-2012, 03:06 PM   #13
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If you are in Europe, there is a big difference between 75000 and 75,000
That's funny, I am originally from Europe, and don't think of those numbers like used to anymore
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Old 06-10-2012, 03:22 PM   #14
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Maybe FIRECalc infers that if you are the kind of person who uses commas, then your attention to detail will help you make necessary adjustments in retirement.
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Old 06-10-2012, 04:22 PM   #15
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...But, in any case, it's elementary good design for the system to include a summary of what you input, before giving you the results, so that you can see how it interpreted your input. This is, AFAIK, also missing from FIREcalc's output.

I'm guessing that they both evaluate to zero.
On the results page, there is link to Display (hide) input data, but to just ignore invalid input characters is poor design. Perhaps we are using too critical an eye for something that was probably started as a hobby or for personal use and later made available for general public use.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:59 AM   #16
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A comma can save a life!
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:53 PM   #17
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A comma can save a life!
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:29 PM   #18
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A comma can save a life!
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Maybe it can take a life too!
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