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NeoOffice :: View topic - Features:Needs before Wants.Writer:Fix PC to Mac bullet prob
Features:Needs before Wants.Writer:Fix PC to Mac bullet prob
 
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RLTech
Blue Pill


Joined: Dec 03, 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:59 pm    Post subject: Features:Needs before Wants.Writer:Fix PC to Mac bullet prob Reply with quote

Before adding wanted features, the basics of needed features should be completed.

This means, in order, top first to bottom last:
1. Fixing serious bugs: of the kind that cause the program to crash.
2. Fixing minor bugs: of the kind that cause problems again and again, and may or may not have workarounds.
3. Fixing basic needed features: Particularly those that stop prospective users from switching to NeoOffice when their tests of NeoOffices ability to allow them to move off of their old software to NeoOffice, fail.
4. Adding more features (and inevitably more bugs with them) to the already huge feature list found in a suite this large.

Regarding #3.
E.g.: I have over 23 pages of design flaws and headache creating design behaviors that I've compiled over the years while working in MS Word for PC. Working with it on a daily basis has always driven me up the wall. So, now that I'm back on the Mac again (after being off it from System 9 - 10.3) I wanted to move away from MS Word, while retaining the ability to edit old files and generate new ones that had to go to colleagues using, what has always been (since the 1980's) and continues to be, the most popular program in the world, MS Word.

Hence, the first test I did of NeoOffice Writer was to pull in a PC generated Word 2000 .doc document, with a bulleted list, to see if Writer did the simple bullet mappings correctly. This was to check that, visually, the bullet point characters from the Windows character set would still be displayed correctly by mapping to the visually equivalent characters in the Mac's character set.
It didn't.

Level 1 bullet characters and Level 2 bullet characters are displayed incorrectly (as are levels 4 and 5), as they are incorrectly (from a solid solutions point of view) directly mapped to their arbitrary ASCII Mac character equivalents (which are just generic “unused square” characters). Visually the document is a mess. No remapping to compensate for the blatantly obvious differences between the Mac and PC character sets has occurred. Hence the users are left to suffer the lazy design choices of the programmers. I wish to apologize for harshness of the previous sentence; it should be read only in the context of shameless constructive criticism.

Instead of Writer's behavior being oriented to looking at, and hence solving the problem, from the end user's perspective, it is apparently oriented to looking that the problem from the programmers perspective.

The user perspective: Bulleted lists are extremely common. The user should never be aware of, nor have to care, which program or operating system's character set created the document they are currently working on. They expect all levels of bullet characters to be displayed correctly on screen and when printed. Anything less results in a break in the chain of even bare minimum compatibility, and would cause them to continue to wait on a fix rather than move from Word to NeoOffice's Writer.

From the programmers perspective things are just slightly more complex (but in this case, luckily, only slightly). Direct mappings of Windows characters to Macintosh characters vary, once you get beyond the range of the basic 0-9, a-z, A-Z, etc. and into the range of extended character sets. Nevertheless the problem with bullets not mapping between character sets is well known.

NeoOffice should be able to read and display the visually equivalent characters via a simple mapping routine which would run each time it has to deal with the raw data of the Windows characters being pulled from disk, that obviously don't have simple "one to one" direct mappings to: their visually equivalent Mac bullet characters (except, purely by chance, for Level 3 bullet point characters which are visually both solid square boxes).

A programmer familiar with reading the .doc format should be able to create a simple parsing routine that would examine the .doc (Word 97/2000/XP) document being opened in NeoOffice Writer, and when Windows bulleted paragraphs are found, obviously containing "Windows character set" bullet characters, simply map them to their respective equivalent "Mac character set" bullet character visual equivalents.

Placing this simple lookup table remapper just before any File Open (or, with exactly reverse mappings) File Save command when saving in Word97/2000/XP .doc format, solves the compatibility problem. The fix is relatively simple, even as the problem created by not having basic bulleted lists work correctly, is large enough to stop users from switching to NeoOffice.

If I may be so bold. I would put this problem near the top of the list of new feature/old feature "enhancements" that need to be dealt with, and certainly above adding nice, but not necessarily needed features like native OS X spell checker compatibility.

I hope this helps,
RLTech
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Samwise
Captain Naiobi


Joined: Apr 25, 2006
Posts: 2315
Location: Montpellier, France

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeoOffice is based on OpenOffice.org, and as such has all the features and flaws of that suite. Unfortunately, the current scope of the NeoOffice project is limited by resources to keeping a native version of OpenOffice.org running on Mac OS X and fixing OpenOffice.org feature bugs is outside that scope.
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pluby
The Architect
The Architect


Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 11856
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Features:Needs before Wants.Writer:Fix PC to Mac bullet Reply with quote

RLTech wrote:
This means, in order, top first to bottom last:
1. Fixing serious bugs: of the kind that cause the program to crash.
2. Fixing minor bugs: of the kind that cause problems again and again, and may or may not have workarounds.


No offense, but you just described what I have spent 60 or more hours per week doing for the last 5 years of my life. Wink

While your item #3 makes sense, the reality of the situation is that we are funded solely by user donations and, as such, as Samwise noted our scope is severely limited.

Many users have expressed the hope that NeoOffice will be a "Microsoft Office" killer, but that really isn't a realistic goal for a tiny organization like ours that operates like a non-profit. Instead, our goal is to provide a free alternative office suite that has reasonable compatibility with Microsoft Office for those who cannot afford or do not need the advanced features that Microsoft Office provides.

Patrick
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sardisson
Town Crier
Town Crier


Joined: Feb 01, 2004
Posts: 4588

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with bullets is a *very* long-standing bug in the OpenOffice.org import code that the (Sun) OOo programmers have consistently ignored because it only appears on Mac OS X, which is not an OS that Sun releases OOo builds for Sad

Smokey

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rays
The Anomaly
(earlier version)


Joined: Sep 23, 2004
Posts: 475
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Working in a multi-lingual office which has made the switch away from M$ Office to NeoOffice several versions ago, I welcome the fact that the developers put priority on adding a useful end-user feature by using the built-in Mac OS X dictionaries over sorting out a problem with M$ fonts which is not of their making.

For as long as I can remember, there has been a problem moving .doc files from Windoze to Macs - even Office for Mac could come out with empty squares where bullets or other symbols had been inserted during the document's creation on Windows. Yes, very irritating for end users of both Office for Mac and NeoOffice alike. Maybe M$ could embrace an open ISO standard for its character set in a future iteration of its products. That should provide a solution for all users everywhere, no?

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Ray Saunders
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arossman
Blue Pill


Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:04 pm    Post subject: Word format Bullet List Conversion Reply with quote

Seems that the bullet list conversion problem from M$ Word to OOo on Mac is not new. However, am curious if NeoOffice has implemented a fix and I'm not finding in the documentation.

When OOo 3.0 was released last week, loaded it onto my Mac, and began editing a document that I started in the office (Win + Office 2003). Immediately saw the screwy bullets. Problem doesn't happen in Office 2004 NOR in NeoOffice... just OOo.

Was extremely impressed that NeoOffice (again) was able to fix a long-standing OOo bug. Then started reading the forums and it seems to say that NeoOffice hasn't fixed the problem. So why are the bullets correct? Is it an artifact of also having Office 2004 on my mac? If so, why doesn't OOo also get fixed?

Thanks!
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pluby
The Architect
The Architect


Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 11856
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really cannot come up with a theory as to what is happening without looking at a sample document. Do you have a sample document available on the web somewhere that we can look at?

Patrick
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pluby
The Architect
The Architect


Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 11856
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

arossman,

Thank you for the PM with your sample document. I can see how messed up the bullets are in OpenOffice.org 3.0 and how they look fine in NeoOffice 2.2.5.

Since the bullets also look fine in my NeoOffice 3.0 Early Access development build, I have to conclude that the problem in OpenOffice.org is that their native Mac OS X text layout code is buggy. OpenOffice.org's text layout code is written from scratch and none of our code is used so it is not suprising that you will find bugs in their code as ours has the benefit of our 5 years of bug fixing and optimization work.

Patrick
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arossman
Blue Pill


Joined: Oct 20, 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:11 pm    Post subject: Bullet Lists - NeoOffice is Better Reply with quote

Patrick,

another reason why OOo 3.0 won't be replacing NeoOffice. Thanks for all the effort to make sure things "just work". The sample document was developed specifically to test MS Word 2003 compatibility, feel free to use it however it can help.

Will be making a donation to the NeoOffice 3.0 Early Access.

Thanks!
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