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NeoOffice :: View topic - Word-style formatting palette.
Word-style formatting palette.
 
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exhodus202
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Joined: Jan 20, 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:42 pm    Post subject: Word-style formatting palette. Reply with quote

I've been using NO almost exclusively for the last 2 years (in contrast to MS Word 2004/2008 before then). The one feature from MSW that I really miss is the floating formatting palette. Especially for formatting paragraphs. I find myself in NO going back and forth constantly fiddling with indents and such. In MSW, I could click and see instantaneous results; and if I didn't like it I could change it right away. No need to take so many trips to Format>Paragraph then "OK".

I realize that this is probably dependent on OOo implementing a feature like this. So does anyone here know if that's what Sun or Novell are cooking up?
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pluby
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first step is to really understand what you are asking for and then I can propose some alternatives that might be feasible. If I can find some feasible alternatives that do what you are looking for, then we will see if enough other donors want this feature to justify investing the necessary work to implementing the feature.

To get started on the first step, can you tell us what specific features in that dialog you use most frequently? I ask this because there are existing toolbar buttons that can do the following and I want to know which features we are missing:

- Increase or decrease indent of a paragraph by a standard tab width
- Set line spacing within a paragraph to 1, 1.5, or 2

Granted, these toolbar buttons are a very small subset of the settings currently in Format :: Paragraph menu's dialog, but since that dialog is very complex and has several tabs, I assume that you are looking for a floating palette window that has the most often used functions in it.

Patrick
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James3359
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Joined: Jul 05, 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I keep my formatting toolbar as a floating palette, partly so I can see all the buttons - see picture. Is this what you have in mind exhodus202?
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pluby
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James3359 wrote:
I keep my formatting toolbar as a floating palette, partly so I can see all the buttons - see picture. Is this what you have in mind exhodus202?


Note also that you can add the two sets of existing toolbar icons listed in my post to the floating palette window that is pictured in James3359's screen snapshot.

If the two sets of existing toolbar icons are your most frequently used indenting and line spacing actions, let us know and we can list the steps to display what James3359 is showing with the those extra toolbar icons.

Patrick
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exhodus202
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject: More information Reply with quote

Okay, here's a picture of the MSW floating format palette as I would be using it for my workflow most commonly (attachment - not sure if this will show up inline or not).

Note that I have open the Alignment and Spacing and Bullets and Numbering sub-sections. What I really really like about this setup is that on the fly I can go back and forth between fiddling with stuff on the palette and see the results instantaneously in the document. For example, in the picture, I just set the spacing above the highlighted paragraph ("Request:...") to 36. Don't like it? Change it--right away! In NO, I have to go to Format>Paragraph>[various clicks]>OK and only then see if I like the change. If not, back to the same routine (Format>etc.). No real-time results. No being able to select a paragraph (or list of numbered lines, etc.) while I have the dialog box open.

The idea of keeping a floating toolbar open appr (thanks, james3359); it just doesn't have the widgets I want. Yes, you can put the "paragraph" button onto the formating toolbar, but that just opens up the same dialog as Format>Paragraph, with its limitations of no real-time feedback on your edits, etc.
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pluby
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:23 am    Post subject: Re: More information Reply with quote

From your screen snapshot, I see that there are several widgets in MS Word that are not available in NeoOffice's Formatting toolbar. But first I want to note that if you click on the arrow at the end of the Formatting toolbar and move your mouse over the Visible Buttons option in the popup menu that appears, you can add the 3 Line Spacing buttons that are in MS Word.

After adding the 3 Line Spacing buttons, that leaves the following widgets that are in MS Word that are not in NeoOffice's formatting toolbar:

1. Alignment and spacing section:
- Page orientation buttons
- Paragraph spacing listbox
- Indentation (in) listboxes

2. Bullets and numbering section:
- Style listbox
- Start listbox

Did I miss any items?

I am pretty confident that this is feasible to add the above widgets into the NeoOffice's Formatting toolbar. However, I suspect that the engineering work to modify NeoOffice's underlying OpenOffice.org code will not be trivial.

Since our donations only support one full-time software engineer (me), I would like to see other NeoOffice donors have a strong desire for us to devote our limited engineering time to this new feature.

Specificially, I would like to see at least 20 NeoOffice donors post that they also want this new feature. If and when that many NeoOffice donors post that they want this new feature, I will then start working on implementing these toolbar widgets.

Patrick
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exhodus202
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thanks, pluby, for your (as usual) quick and thorough response. The widgets I am most interested in are (to refer again to the screenshot from the MSW floating toolbar palette) Paragraph Spacing and Indentation; and pretty much everything from the Bullets and Numbering subsection.

As I thought, this would require quite a bit of work. Crying or Very sad But surely I'm not the only one who appreciated this feature from MSW...? Rolling Eyes

Back to my original question, does anybody know if there is an effort afoot on the OOo project (or Go-oo, or add-ons) that already has laid some groundwork in this direction?

Finally, the core functionality I'm looking for isn't so much this or that widget in a floating toolbar as much as being able to edit formatting features on-the-fly. In my workflow, I'm constantly thinking about content and format at the same time (very different, I know, from the LaTex crowd, or the "don't distract me when I'm writing"/WriteRoom-type crowd). That's what I really want - real-time, seamless WYSIWYG. That's the idea; this or that widget simply implements that idea.
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pluby
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

exhodus202 wrote:
As I thought, this would require quite a bit of work. Crying or Very sad But surely I'm not the only one who appreciated this feature from MSW...? Rolling Eyes


If enough other donors say they want it, I will definitely see if I can implement it. If 20 donors say they want it and the work is feasible, that tells us that we should be able to recover the cost of implementing through donations from the next release.

exhodus202 wrote:
Back to my original question, does anybody know if there is an effort afoot on the OOo project (or Go-oo, or add-ons) that already has laid some groundwork in this direction?


I do not know what OpenOffice.orgare working on other than by what they publish on their OpenOffice.org development blog. I did see them talking about adding text search widgets in a new toolbar in the last few months, but not anything about the toolbar that you looking for.

exhodus202 wrote:
Finally, the core functionality I'm looking for isn't so much this or that widget in a floating toolbar as much as being able to edit formatting features on-the-fly. In my workflow, I'm constantly thinking about content and format at the same time (very different, I know, from the LaTex crowd, or the "don't distract me when I'm writing"/WriteRoom-type crowd). That's what I really want - real-time, seamless WYSIWYG. That's the idea; this or that widget simply implements that idea.


I understand. That is why that I have talked about adding icons to the existing Formatting toolbar: there are already a subset of the Format :: Paragraph dialog's widgets there and since the listboxes already in the Formatting toolbar apply immediately, I am hopeful that implementing addition widgets could be done using the following steps for each new widget:

1. Find the OpenOffice.org code that displays the widget from the Format :: Paragraph dialog that we want to add to the Formatting toolbar.

2. Find the OpenOffice.org code that the dialog's the OK button invokes to apply the changes in that dialog to the current text

3. Copy and tweak the necessary portions of above two pieces of code into the Formatting toolbar's code so that changing a value in the toolbar's widget invokes the code that the dialog's OK button current does

The above steps are timeconsuming, but hopefully they should not involve any risky changes to the OpenOffice.org code.

Patrick
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James3359
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well why not shoot for the moon while we are at it...

How difficult would it be to implement a toolbox-like feature with several toolbars held in a panel? I would be in favour of losing the screen jumping effect of toolbars appearing and disappearing according to cursor context, and if a selection of them could be pulled off into a floating palette arrangement I would consider that a significant improvement. And a move towards current Mac-likeness.

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pluby
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James3359 wrote:
Well why not shoot for the moon while we are at it...

How difficult would it be to implement a toolbox-like feature with several toolbars held in a panel? I would be in favour of losing the screen jumping effect of toolbars appearing and disappearing according to cursor context, and if a selection of them could be pulled off into a floating palette arrangement I would consider that a significant improvement. And a move towards current Mac-likeness.


I do not believe that such a thing as a toolbar panel exists with the OpenOffice.org code. As such, implementing a whole new type of floating window with the OpenOffice.org is probably more than I can probably handle.

Patrick
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exhodus202
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:32 pm    Post subject: So then where? Reply with quote

Patrick,

I kinda sorta knew that I was asking for a big chunk. But, do you know where me and James could go from here in the bigger wider OOo world to sniff around and advocate for just such a big hairy feature? Like I said, I don't think I'm the only person who's had a bit of (regrettable, I know) MSW envy on this feature.
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pluby
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject: Re: So then where? Reply with quote

exhodus202 wrote:
I kinda sorta knew that I was asking for a big chunk. But, do you know where me and James could go from here in the bigger wider OOo world to sniff around and advocate for just such a big hairy feature? Like I said, I don't think I'm the only person who's had a bit of (regrettable, I know) MSW envy on this feature.


I cannot answer that question. How you make new feature requests that Oracle's OpenOffice.org engineers will review and comment has always been unknown to me.

Patrick
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sardisson
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:18 pm    Post subject: Re: So then where? Reply with quote

pluby wrote:
I cannot answer that question. How you make new feature requests that Oracle's OpenOffice.org engineers will review and comment has always been unknown to me.

1) Never, ever, under penalty of death, mention "NeoOffice"
2) Be an obnoxious, angry French engineering professor Razz

In all seriousness, you can file a bug/feature request in their tracker (note, sadly, that item 1 above is still absolutely required), but I don't know what anyone can do to make someone in charge notice the issue. Sad

Smokey

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exhodus202
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:34 pm    Post subject: More Refinement Reply with quote

Okay, I fiddled around a bit and here's some more:

I think that the NO/OOo Styles and Formatting toolbar comes the closest to what I'm looking for. What I like is:
* Instantaneous results. Double-click and see effect(s) right away. Don't have to open/close dialog box.
* Fairly complete/comprehensive list of formatting features (e.g., the ones that I specified I would use most often, paragraph and numbering/bullets).

What I don't like:
* Seems to be float-only; no ability to dock (use as a toolbar on the top like Standard, Formatting, etc.).
* Doesn't fade away after a few moments like MSW's does (easily comes back from transparent to opaque by waving your cursor over the area you last placed it). I really like the way the MSW implementation is only there when you need it and comes back at the flick of the cursor.
* Seems to force upon the user a certain workflow or philosophy of interacting with the document.

That is, it seems to be a sort of LaTex-y assumption of "write everything first, and worry about the format only later". Or perhaps the opposite, "All the styles/formats you'd ever want you can think of ahead of time. Just select a style ahead of time and fill in with your content."

My preferred method splits the difference between these two extremes. Following Marshall MacLuan, "The medium is the message," as I develop my content, I'm thinking at the same time of the way to best present that content to maximize communicational impact. Then when I select a certain formatting feature, that in turn influences my content - I may add, subtract, edit, revise, etc. It's a very fluid, back-and-forth collaboration. The OOo way does not "collaborate" very well. I like the way the MSW floating tools palette not only allows me to use (and edit, yes, I realize that NO/OOo allows me to edit styles, too) styles but shows me the details of indents, etc., all right there. The most I have to do is to click or close disclosure triangles.

In short, I think the MSW way best captures how I think. I don't like being told how to think when I'm trying to think. It's a distraction.

So this comes down to a design philosophy issue for me.

BTW, Apple's Pages' Inspector has much the same features/advantages as MSW's floating formatting palette. But comparing those two is out of the scope of this topic.[/list]
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exhodus202
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Bad blood? Reply with quote

@Sardisson:

Are you saying that the OOo community snubs us NO folk? Seems to me that they'd be happy to have as many people coding, collaborating, promoting, repurposing OOo/ODF as possible. Isn't that the "open source way"? Or am I just being way too
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