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Re: Towards a WYSIWYG word processing (was: What improvements would be t

From: John Yates
Subject: Re: Towards a WYSIWYG word processing (was: What improvements would be truly useful?)
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2018 09:54:43 -0500

On Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 8:36 AM, Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:
> We have very different experiences with styles and templates, it
> seems.  I hate them and rarely if ever use them in the documents I
> need to write on my daytime job (and I write quite a few of them).
> IME, styles in Office like applications get in the way too much, in
> that you change something at some place, and suddenly many unrelated
> places change as well.

I agree that styles as exposed in MSOffice and vaguely copied in
LibreWord are not great.  Quite the contrary.  And I am sure that
many users of today's crop of word processor would concur.

I was not arguing that Emacs should mimic that model.  What I am
arguing is that those style models attempt to answer an actual need.
That they mostly do a poor job is actually an opportunity.  Failure
to acknowledge that need and to provide any answer will limit severely
adoption of Emacs as a WYSIWYG document preparation tool. OTOH, were
Emacs to offer a more attractive style model and user experience
that could become an important selling point.

My preference would be the model used in Interleaf TPS and Samna
Ami Pro (later Lotus Word Pro).  In both products the structure tree
of the paragraph styles was displayed in a narrow left-hand pane
with each node aligned to the first line in the right-hand pane of the
paragraph it described.  Clearly the two panes scrolled in lockstep.

I cannot tell you how many times I demoed Ami Pro to a user of
MSWord or WordPerfect and made an instant convert.

It has been too many decades to recall much more.  For instance I do
not recall either product offering style inheritance (styles based
on other styles).  Clearly such inheritance has power but is also the
source of much user frustration.  A style tree browser clarifying the
source of properties (inherited versus locally defined) might help.
An ability to restrict the display to a single style property (font,
indentation, etc) could further help.

My bottom line: The style models in MSWord and LibreWord represent
years of incremental tweaking to ill-conceived initial  models.  Emacs
has an opportunity to start afresh.  If it really is going to pursue
WYSIWYG document preparation it should not squander that opportunity.

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