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[tdf-discuss] Re: [libreoffice-design] Templates, styles, outline and bullets/numbering




On 30/04/11 4:18 AM, RGB ES wrote:
2011/4/29 Greg<greg.lubel@gmail.com>:
2011/4/28 Greg<greg.lubel@gmail.com>:
Hi,

I believe Writer's template, style, outline and numbering facilities are
in need of a rethink. The areas I think are weak, and this is by no
means a full list, are:
- The template organiser dialogue - who knows how to use it and what it's
really for?
- Style management - setting defaults, selecting style-sheets with some
idea of the stylistic/visual impact, changing styles
- Style usage - must become solid, robust and consistent. The
impossibility of getting working single type or mixed type (numbered or
bulletted) outline lists must be solved! At the moment, there seem to be
three or four ways to control list hierarchies and only some (or one)
  of them work. They are using the tab key, using the increase/decrease
indent button, using the list or numbering styles or using the bullets
and numbering's outline view. They each break the others in an
unpredictable way!

I think the user stories that press on the issues are something like:

1/ As a document writer, I want to ensure my document is easy to read
because all the paragraphs, headers and lists are consistent in their
style and outline level, according to their position in the document
hierarchy.

You can probably tell from this that I think we should strive to make
styles and outline levels so easy to use (while not diminishing their
full capabilities) that users predominantly use styles and not the
ad-hoc editing methods that render most docs inconsistent and difficult
to read.

2/ As a document writer, I want to be able to very easily select a
style-sheet to change the look of my document, so I have a good idea of
how the new style- sheet will look before I select it and I should not
have to do much custom editing to get a style I like.

3/As a style-sheet writer or modifier, I want to see a style-sheet view
of the world, that shows the hierarchy of styles and their setting
inheritance and overrides, so that I can easily build and maintain a
simple and logical style- sheet

e.g. style settings inheritance and override hierarchy (This indented
text illustrates the hierarchy, not a design ;o)

-- Default (All settings, including outline levels)
                --Paragraph text (overridden or new settings)
                --Heading (overridden or new settings)
                        --Heading1 (overridden or new settings)
                        --Heading2 (overridden or new settings)
                        --Heading3 (overridden or new settings)
                --Header (overridden or new settings)
                        --FirstPageHeader (overridden or new settings)
                        --LeftHeader (overridden or new settings)
                        --RightHeader (overridden or new settings)
                --Footer (overridden or new settings)
                        --FirstPageFooter (overridden or new settings)
                        --LeftFooter (overridden or new settings)
                        --RightFooter (overridden or new settings)
                --List (overridden or new settings)
                        --BulletList1 (overridden or new settings)
                        --NumberList1 (overridden or new settings)
                        --BulletList2 (overridden or new settings)
                        --NumberList2 (overridden or new settings)
                        --BulletList3 (overridden or new settings)
                        --NumberList3 (overridden or new settings)

4/As a style-sheet writer or modifier, I want to lock a style-sheet to a
document template, so that only that style-sheet can be used, so the
documents produced are consistent.

(personally, I'd like to see a way to lock out custom edits for selected
doc templates too, for complete document consistency and compatibility -
this is especially powerful for collaboratively authored docs)

Aside from the implicated UI redesign, I think an extensive and
professional set of style-sheets would greatly help matters.

Any thoughts?

Cheers,

Greg

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At first I though that when you said "style sheets" you were talking
about templates... but you also use the word template. What do you
refer as "style sheet"?

I've never had problems with numbered lists (I mean, once I understood
how they work...), but I agree that they are not clear at all.
Most users I've seen tend to confuse numbered lists with outline
numbering, so a better distinction is needed.
Then you can't have pushed them much. As I said before "At the moment, there
seem to be three or four ways to control list hierarchies and only some (or
one) of them work. They are using the tab key, using the increase/decrease
indent button, using the list or numbering styles or using the bullets and
numbering's outline view. They each break the others in an unpredictable way!"

Just discovered another...As well as Format/Bullets&Numbering/Outline, there's
Tools/Outline Numbering, which opens a panel that looks the same as the one in
the  Format/Bullets&Numbering/Outline but which may or may not be the exact
same panel, controlling the same settings?! I don't see a way

It's also pretty poor usability that the default in outline lists is for
numbering to continue, irresprective of the outline level
The stylists have a "filter" (drop down menu bellow the styles list)
that shows the styles organized by hierarchy with a "tree view"
diagram, so that already exists.
Thanks for that - seen it before but not tried it.
About an easy way to use styles, on
another thread I proposed a "style status/selector toolbar".

For my part, I think that the style handling on Writer is solid(1) and
easy to use... but not "new user friendly".
In general I agree. But there are some notable exceptions. The main one being
the confusion over nested hierarchies. I will attempt to talk you through why
I think it's not just bad design but effectively broken. Jump to the end for
the description...
As I said on another thread, Writer is not the kind of program that
you can learn by trial and error: you actually need to *study* how it
works.
Of course, everyone would agree with that but let's not use that as an excuse
for claiming 'it's just difficult to do. Get used to it' We need to strive to
make it easier.

The "potential barrier" a new user needs to climb before being
comfortable is high,
Not of necessity. (I work on much harder to use products than simple word
processors and even there, I can make inroads to improve usability)
but once that barrier is passed the program is
even easy to use.
Yup
We need to lower that barrier as much as possible, without losing the
valley that exists after that ;)
So we agree ;o)
(1) The few point on which styles need to get better are, IMO:
       1- Linked page styles. You can link any style but page styles
       2- Math styles: they are completed absent
       3- Table styles: the autoformat for tables have some
shortcomings (no idea how this can be solved, though)
And about templates, the main problem is that the association between
a document and its parent template is quite weak: there is no easy way
to attach a given template to an already existing document and that's
a great limitation.

BTW, the template organiser dialogue is there to select your default
template, among other things like really organize (in folders, for
example) your templates :)
Yes, but it's rubbish at all the things it's meant to be for.
Cheers
Ricardo
Why outlining is so BAD!!!

1/ Copy and paste the following into Writer:
level 1
level 2
level 3
level 2
level 3
level 3
level 4
level 2
level 3
level 2
level 1
2/ Try to use List styles to create the outline levels, so 'level 1' is style
'List 1' and so forth. I'd expect the List styles to indent each entry in
proportion to the list level and this is exactly what it does.
3/ Make a new copy of the list and apply the 'Numbering' list styles to create
the outline levels, so 'level 1' is style 'Numbering 1' and so forth. I'd
expect the List styles to indent each entry in proportion to the list level
but be numbered according to the outline level, using the style chosen in
Format/Bullets&Numbering/Outline. It fails to do this and it looks just the
same as the List styles
Modifying the styles (outline&numbering) by changing the outline level so that
each level increments more, numbering style dropdown to refer (circularly) to
itself and checking 'restart at this paragraph', manages to turn on numbers
but the numbers aren't indented and the paragraphs arbitrarily so. If the
answer is that the styles CAN do some ofwhat I expect, then I'd expect them to
work, out-of-the-box and allow bullet and numbering style specification.
4/How to remedy it I wondered? Alternatives might be a) select the list and
press the Numbering button in the toolbar OR b) select the list and select an
outline style from Format/Bullets&Numbering/Outline. OR c), use the paragraph
indent/outdent buttons to control the indent level
        a) Completely overrides the indenting specified by the style settings and
makes a simple non-indented list numbered 1 to 11. Clearly not what I want and
almost certainly a bug.
        b) I selected the outline style that adds another digit for each level,
i.e. '1', '1.1', '1.1.1' and so forth. This had the same effect of removing
any indents and forming a non-indented list, numbered 1 to 11. Only now is
there a toolbar shown that seems to provide the functionality to move each
paragraph to the appropriate indent and with the selected numbering system.
This is easy enough to use but is not obvious to find and could get pretty
tedious. Also, If I accidentally or deliberately use the increase or decrease
indent toolbar button, the outline imposed indenting is corrupted and doesn't
seem to be recoverable
I would expect the Numbering styles to turn on numbering and I'd expect to be
able to create bullet styles that achive the same but with specified bullets.
I don't expect to choose numbered styles but have to turn numbering on
manually.

Too tired to continue writing.

Cheers,

Greg

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The point is that you should *not* use numbered lists for outlining
your document: outline numbering is for chapter/section/... and it is
handled through Tools → Outline numbering, while *numbering styles
must be used only for lists*. They seem similar: you even configure
them on almost the same way, they are different things.
Before you say it: yes, it is not clear at all at first (or second)
glance, specially considering that other programs use numbered styles
for outline numbering. So we have an UI/documentation problem here.
Writer way of working is far more robust... once you understand how to
use it, of course.
So again the problems is the interaction between software and user,
not the functionality that works perfectly.
When you realize that numbered styles must be used only for lists, it
even make sense that the numbering is not restarted by default: unless
you explicitly say that the previous list ended, the software will
consider you want it to continue. After all, you are using the same
style ;)

BTW, I did not say that Writer is a difficult to learn soft in order
to create an "excuse", I did say it as an statement: something that
needs some love to make it better ;)

Cheers
Ricardo

I find styles very useful. I also don't fully understand how they work and would like to understand more. When they work they are great but when I break something I am lost. I also think there are some bugs, but without proper understanding of how they should work I am reluctant to file a bug.

The documentation at http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/cgi_img_auth.php/6/6e/0103GS3-StylesAndTemplates.pdf doesn't explain how they work and possibly if I can gain a better understanding I can update the wiki with a view to distilling the information I garner into something simple for the bulk of average users.

As this ultimately may end up with design consequences, should the discussion be in one list or the other of both?

To start with, what is the underlying construction of the document. It would seem that document features have styles associated. Do styles modify the document construction on application (or modification) of the style or do the styles work in layers like a filter.

I.e. a line of text entered initially in a default document has a certain indent. If I adjust the slider on the ruler it changes the indent. If I apply a paragraph style it changes the indent. Does applying the style change the basic indent value or override the basic value. If the style is removed, does the indent revert to the basic value. I suppose is the indent a global (to the document) variable that is changed by applying a style or does the style override the instance.

If I apply a paragraph style and then a list style, do these subsequently override the indent. Are they hierarchical so no matter what later change I make to the paragraph style my override by the last applied list style maintains the indent.

Thanks,
steve



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