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AbiWord Weekly News #42, (2001, week 18, released 2001.05.22)

Welcome to issue 42 of the AbiWord Weekly News.

This week the developer mailing list has been dominated by the discussions of what should be included in the AbiWord 1.0 release. It is still undecided, but there is a trend towards a 1.0 release within the next four months, without support for proper tables. See the developer ML archive for all the discussions which spans several threads.

This week we've seen at least three very interesting checkins: Martin added support for LaTeX style tables (simple outlining of your text) which is the closest we're likely to get for table support this side of 1.0. Dom checked in a first version of an AbiWord GTK widget, and also did some work on a module plugin architecture.

Unfortunately, this week also left us with a severely trashed BugZilla database, losing several days worth of input. The cause of this is likely to do with the disks filling up on the server, but it's still unclear why BugZilla appears to keep losing data. We're still looking into this, and have started doing hourly backups of the database. Note that the bug data in this week's issue is also affected by this crash - and that any votes you've cast have been lost.

Finally, I got quite a few mails after the previous issue of AbiWord Weekly News, not only from all the happy campers (trust me, there were quite a few), but also from people following the AbiWord development who thought I'd missed a few interesting subjects. For this reason, I've taken up sending out an early copy of the WN to a few people so they can help me fill in the blanks. With some luck that should make for an even better newsletter. Thanks!

In this issue:

Editor(s) of this issue: Jesper Skov

CVS Stats

2001.04.27 - 2001.05.04
WhoCommitsIn summary
dom 15 Modular import/export framework, AbiWord widget, Template Dialog, and various fixes. Also BeOS fixed (James Montgomerie), tmpnam and styles patches (John L. Clark).
hub 9 MacOSX stuff.
jskov 9 WN and web updates, fixed image vertical space problem and selection/cursor movement behavior.
sam 5 Autoconfig/build work.
brucep 4 Optimize property lookups, fix memory leaks.
tomas_f 4 ttftool hacking.
aaronl 3 Installer bug fix and autobuild fixes.
mpritchett 3 Win32 stuff.
msevior 2 LaTeX style tables.
phma 2 British English translations from Alan Horkan.
plam 2 Final touches to the left ruler margin grippy.
thomasf 1 QNX typo fix.

Patch of the week goes to Dom for his work on the AbiWord widget. It has a rather large potential as it will make AbiWord more visible as a GNOME component in the future - and thus, with some luck, lure some hackers our way.

Project Of the Week

POW (Project Of the Week) and the new uPOW (User Project Of the Week) is an attempt at attracting new developers and entice help from users by lowering the bar of entry to doing something constructive for AbiWord. A POW will describe a goal and often outline how to get there.

Presently we have a few unclaimed POWs. Please see the POW status page for more details.

POW2001.18ImageMagick multipurpose graphic importer
uPOW2001.17Where to send AbiWord announcements
uPOW2001.9Determining Locale Status
POW2001.9Speed up bulk spell checking
uPOW2001.7Host for AbiWord BugDay
uPOW2001.6Update Feature and UI matrices
POW2001.5Bug-buddy support for AbiWord
POW1999.47Make translated dialogs fit
uPOW1999.42Usability Test #1
uPOW1999.37CS folks wanted...

Bug Update

Here's the AbiWord bug update for the last week. If you can spare some time, please help us triage the bugs - you don't need to be able to program to do this.

Bug Counts

These are the bug counts for the past 4 weeks:

Date:        Submitted:    QA:           Open:
2001.04.13   17 ( -81%)    152 ( +18%)   240 ( +31%)
2001.04.20   11 ( -35%)     57 ( -62%)   232 (  -3%)
2001.04.27   23 (+109%)     58 (  +1%)   228 (  -1%)
2001.05.04   28 ( +21%)     49 ( -15%)   293 ( +28%)

Bug Votes

As a user of AbiWord, you are able to vote on bugs you'd like to see closed. The process is quite simple:

  1. Create yourself an account if you don't already have one.

  2. Bring up the bug list.

  3. Click on Bug IDs to read bug details.

  4. If you find an interesting bug you'd like to have fixed, cast your vote by clicking on the "Vote for this bug" link on the bug description page.

  5. You have 30 voting points you can cast in whatever proportions you'd like on anything between 1 and 30 bugs. But note that developers will likely prioritize a bug with 30 single votes than a bug with a single 30-unit vote. So vote with lower unit counts (5 or so) to make your voice heard!

From the sorted list of votes, we found the current Top 10 Bugs to be:

10301230.9.0 Font substitution table
1381100.9.0 I want an install fonts option
1046100.9.0 Some localized strings truncated in Windows version
133310Future Inserting a word is O(n) in the number of words in the document
131461.0 Abiword does not accept WM_UNICHAR keyboard input
13945--- on-screen landscape actually prints portrait in Win95
127751.0 Illegal exit on Page Setup - alter paper size
131251.0 Crash when import MS word document
10565Future Redraw performance is dog slow. Sometimes unacceptably slow.
11915--- Import LyX files

Target Milestones

We have just started nominating bugs for the next two big releases. You (as a user or developer) can have your say on which bugs to nominate by casting your vote on bugs as described above. The current milestone distribution is as follows:

MilestoneBug count
Without Nomination196

Closed Bugs

In the past week, the following 32 bugs have been closed (i.e., closed and verified fixed):

542, 624, 695, 808, 846, 877, 994, 997, 1007, 1023, 1073, 1094, 1110, 1118, 1125, 1140, 1147, 1215, 1220, 1221, 1222, 1223, 1227, 1252, 1257, 1285, 1298, 1324, 1350, 1384, 1385 and 1386

On the Mailing List

Traffic on the developer mailing list has picked up quite a bit over the last months. We're now at about 400-450 postings a week. This week, interesting topics included:

  1. Alt-insert: This is a thread reborn from last week, discussing the need for a way for inserting characters in the document by typing in their ASCII code - or rather, and that's what's causing the problems, how this can be extended to support the more generic unicodes.
  2. do Win32 encoding, IME, etc. changes all Just Work?: Paul brushed off a subject that's not received due attention (this is the issue of one of the Top 10 Bugs, I believe). Andrew Dunbar followed up with state saying he basically has the stuff pending some cleanups when he gets the time.
  3. Mac OS X port status: bigschu@mac.com (Apple employee?) asked about the Mac OS X port status since they need a WP. M$ doesn't have any plans for OSX, by any chance? Anyway, Hubert told them how to help out, but there were no (public) replies after that.
  4. Export Word -> save as RTF .doc?: Jesper thought for a moment it would be clever to save .doc files in RTF format to help users exchange documents between AbiWord and Word. But it was quickly pointed out that AbiWord should do things in the correct way or not at all. Amen!
  5. Call for writers - help us with the user documentation : Jesper asked for users to help update the documentation for the upcoming 1.0 release. This caused quite a few volunteers to step forward, and we now have a documentation mailing list. Thanks people!
  6. commit: Latex style table support: Martin gave us LaTeX style tables. Not quite what everybody is craving for, but it'll probably make do for many of the users. He later told us how to use them.
  7. AbiWidget: Dom checked in the basics of an AbiWord GTK widget. As mentioned in the intro, this has large potential on the GNOME platform. Time will tell how much, and how fast this gets exploited.
  8. committ - Win32 List Dialog: The Window front end has been lagging for some time, so it was good to see the List Dialog get some attention from Michael.
  9. Bug Target Milestones: Jesper decided it was time to quickly remind people of what the Bug Target Milestones are there for - and why he's the only one who has been setting them.
  10. BugZilla bit rot?: This one was quite a nasty thing to discover. We'd just made a big deal out of making users aware of the bug system, and their ability to vote, and then we suffer severe data loss. Not very good. Hopefully it will not happen again, and our users will cast their votes again.
  11. Change lists to mailman?: Having created the new documentation mailing list using Mailman, Sam asked if we should switch the other lists to Mailman as well. I believe there was consensus, so that should happen sometime in the near future. We'll be sure to keep the existing archives around.
  12. Commit:: Behind this descriptive title hides Dom's checkin of James Montgomerie's BeOS fixes and Dom's own module plugin architecture. Good stuff.
  13. Fast-Saved & Mac DOCs: This thread continues into May and spawns into another thread as well. It's all about Word documents saved on Macs, sent in various proprietary magic formats. Or something. I lost track...
  14. module manager: Dom's module plugin architecture was discussed a bit more, and thoughts about extending it with autosensing/discovery magic was briefly discussed. Not something that will happen in the short term though (but patches gratefully accepted!).
  15. envelopes, mail merge, etc. (was Re: Feature request.): This is a followup on an earlier thread where Joaquin posted a cute little perl script that reads data from the GnomeCard database. In this thread, Paul summarizes some issues in dealing with mail merges.
  16. 1.0 Features: The link is not to a single thread, but to the full archive of May. There were spawned 10 or so threads on the issue of what features should go into the 1.0 release. The jury is still out...
  17. Commit -- Improve the way the properties are stored and retrieved: Bruce Pearson made a nice commit, making properties be stored in binary format (once parsed) instead of being parsed from their string form each time requested.
  18. Topic: Clipart and 1.0: Just worth mentioning is the possibility of AbiWord getting a clipart package add-on soon. There's some really nice clipart, you should give it a look.

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