AbiWord Weekly News #82, (2001, week 6-8, released 2002.02.26)

Welcome to issue 82 of the AbiWord Weekly News.

Since there have been major server problems for parts of the last weeks, this AWN summarizes news from the period 2002.02.04-2002.02.24 (weeks 6-8 of 2002). For the same reason, there may be missing (more or less interesting) data from the sections based on CVS, BugZilla and mailing list archives.

Biggest single news item from the past 3 weeks is that AbiWord 0.99.2 has been released. If you have not already downloaded it, you probably want to do that ASAP as it fixes many many Bugs and adds/completes quite a few feeatures!

After the old server at SourceGear crashed, the abisource.com site has moved to a new location at the library at the University of Nebraska (in Omaha). Hub has been working hard at getting all the various services back up again. Thanks!

Starting this week, I've added a section with links to the latest AbiWord sources and binaries. This is in part due to a discussion I had with Ray Hartman back in October. At the time, I also made the offer to include a (perhaps occasional) section with interesting AbiWord news for users (I primarily report on development issues, so there's definitely room for additional stuff). But I don't have the energy to track and report on user-specific issues, so if you feel like writing something of this nature on a semi-regular basis, please let me know.

The Bug count in the QA To Verify category is climbing. Please help us close them by downloading the 0.99.2 release and verify that the problems have been fixed. AbiWord 0.99.2 binaries are already available for our major platforms. See the new section with release information.

Also, if you want to help with the QA process during the 0.99.x cycle, you can find nightly builds for Windows here: http://www.darklogic.org/abiword/ and less frequent (but more stable builds) here: http://www.niksbiks.dk/Abi/. For Linux/GNOME you can find nightly builds here: http://pinohuis.dhs.org:8081/. Thanks!

Finally, I've decided we could do with a little essay-style text on various topics, so I've added a new "Special Interests" section which hopefully will contain goodies on a regular basis. I asked David Chart to write the first installment about the new documentation. Thanks, David! And if you have an idea for a small essay that may be of general interest to the readers, please let me know. Any (AbiWord-related) subject is fair game.

In this issue:

Editor(s) of this issue: Jesper Skov

CVS Stats

2002.02.04 - 2002.02.24
WhoCommitsIn summary
dom 123 Added ut_string_sprintf and converted importers/exports to use it. Bumped GNOME version number, WIN32 plugin tweak, SVG helper code, various WP importer fixes (from Marc), fixed Bugs 1740, 1957, and 2709. Fixed use of tmpfile in wv (from row), inmem pictures wv patch (from row), added an xp thread class, Perl bindings update (from Joaquin), wv updates/tweaks, fix some graying problems menus, updated GNOME icons, added Hungarian spelling support, configure fix for gdict, and a few other bug/feature fixes. Perl xs file patched (from Frodo), fixed HTML exporter, and a new UT convert function.
msevior 80 RTF importer fixes: tabs, extract shaped text (Bug 2720), buggy RTF (Bug 2719), and removed debug statement. Fixing some cursor dirt and a segv, unicode private codes fix (from Anthony Fok), import borken header/footers from ABW/RTF, import different first and facing header/footers from RTF, fix incremental loader command line printing, fixed Bugs 608, 1104, 1994, 2611, 2654, 2677, 2688, 2702, and various list and selection problems. Fixes to fields in headers/footers, change of locking during printing, improvements to cursor wait, look for spelling suggestions in custom dictionary, and fixed toolbar related segvs.
fjfranklin 26 Encoding manager changes, RPM specs hacking, version bumped, wv doc updates and configure tweaks, RPM build instructions, GdkPixBug plugin tweaks, and big-endian dictionary hash for magyar.
jskov 17 Improvements to AWN format, AWN#81, and POW list update.
hub 15 Localization tool fix (from Radek Vybiral), Cocoa work and web site tweak.
mpritchett 14 Fixed Bugs 1759 and 1795. Win32 port of Aiksaurus.
phma 11 Danish strings (from Birger Langkjer), Japanese ampersand fix (from Masayuki Hatta), Czech strings (from Radek Vybiral), Japanese system profile, Japanese translation (from Masayuki Hatta), and fixed en-AU systems profile.
cuenca 6 Perl bindings and example script fixes.
aiken 5 Aiksaurus fixes.
rms 3 RPM spec file tweaks.
frodo 2 Undo some previous makefile checkins.
plam 1 Perl bindings fix.
tomas_f 1 Font mapping script fix.

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.

POW2002.04 Integrate the new help system
uPOW2001.17Where to send AbiWord announcements
uPOW2001.09Determining Locale Status
uPOW2001.07Host for AbiWord BugDay
uPOW2001.06Update Feature and UI matrices
POW1999.47Make translated dialogs fit
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:
2002.02.04  120 ( +11%)    147 ( +13%)   395 (  -1%)
2002.02.11  113 (  -5%)    148 (  +0%)   391 (  -1%)
2002.02.18  113 (  +0%)    148 (  +0%)   391 (  +0%)
2002.02.25  141 ( +24%)    168 ( +13%)   388 (  +0%)

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 that can be cast in units of 1 to 30. But please only use votes in 5, 10, or 15-unit blocks (on a single Bug) and avoid casting votes on Bugs you have reported yourself.

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

1030289Future Installing AbiWord messes up fonts in other applications (e.g. Netscape)
376741.0 File assosciate problems for all file types with Win32Slurp
1124691.0 Does not honor config/-geometry request
140647Future xhtml documents fail to open: "Bogus html document" msg
1747421.2 background colour of text selection is always grey
140241Future Can not use other than original type1 fonts
1046331.0 Some localized strings truncated in Windows version
2598311.0 Abiword installs bogus fonts of dubious heritage
262825--- [gtk] "Save As" panel says "Open file as type"
1818201.0 Font reverts to Times New Roman when it shouldn't

And the Top 10 Requests For Enhancements to be:

12765991.2 Table support
1261283future Need to support footnotes and endnotes
1016168Future PDF output would be nice
2321107Future Maths/Equation Editing, as a plugin maybe?
192935Future Hyphenation is missing in Abiword
195028Future Wish for automatic Table of Contents
218325--- Compatibility with StarOffice XML
127023Future Abiword should graphical columns ala wordperfect 8/9
1262181.2 [RFE] need to rewrite RTF import
187518Future Import of StarOffice Writer documents (*.sdw)

Target Milestones

We are nominating bugs for the next two big releases. Users as well as developers, can have their say on which bugs to nominate by casting votes on bugs as described above. The current milestone distribution is as follows:

MilestoneBug count
Without Nomination231

Closed Bugs

Note that there are many many bugs just waiting for QA before they can be closed. Please help!

In the past week, the following 38 bugs have been closed (i.e., closed (FIXED/WORKSFORME) and verified):

23, 475, 654, 818, 1142, 1320, 1399, 1734, 1795, 1896, 1897, 1958, 1969, 2273, 2332, 2335, 2396, 2444, 2492, 2547, 2548, 2573, 2591, 2616, 2646, 2655, 2660, 2676, 2677, 2695, 2697, 2701, 2702, 2715, 2719, 2720, 2745, 2760,

Latest Releases

Here are links to the latest official releases of AbiWord for various architectures and operating systems. There are also links to the latest snapshot builds of AbiWord for a subset of the architectures/operating systems.

Note that the snapshot builds may not work (at all!), but are likely to include more features and have fewer bugs than (older) official releases. Use the official releases for "production systems" and the snapshot builds for testing and when you want to help with Bug triaging.

On the Mailing List

Traffic on the developer mailing list has settled on about 200 postings per week.

You may also find interesting threads on the user and documentation lists (unfortunately the archive for the latter is broken at the moment).

This week, interesting topics on the developer list included:

  1. Loss of enthusiasim for AbiWord: Bryce Nesbitt stated his disappointment with the long-standing X font problems, and felt it would mean people would stop using AbiWord - not as much because the problem is an annoying one (it is) but because it's been known for so long without anything being done about it. I particularly liked Mike Nordell's reply which gives a little background to why there is a problem (and where it stems from). The consensus is though that this problem will remain for the 1.0 release. Hopefully porting to GNOME2 will make the problem go away.

  2. Volenteers wanted for 0.99.2: Martin asked for volunteers to build 0.99.2 binaries. The tree was later tagged, and the release was eventually announced. There are binaries available for Linux i386 (GNOME and GTK, both with BiDi versions), XDarwin, and Windows (also a BiDi version).

  3. Commit: Look for suggestions in Custom Dictionary: Martin made the speller present suggestions from the custom dictionary.

  4. Abi Award: We seem to have won another award. Cool!

  5. [ADMIN] new server: The server at SourceGear crashed hard. Hub posted this message on the new server, 4 days later.

  6. RFP: back out the incremental loader changes for 1.0: Dom asked for permission to back out the incremental loader changes unless some random crashes got fixed in a hurry for the 1.0 release. So Martin did just that. The incremental loader is here to stay.

Special Interest -- On Being a Doxie, by David Chart

AbiWord is quite a capable word processor, with more functions than you might expect. Thus, it needs documentation. I got involved with writing the documentation some time before AbiWord 0.9.0 came out, mainly because I can't write code, and I wanted to contribute to the project. At that time, AbiWord had some documentation, largely by Christophe Caron, but it was out of date and organized so that upgrading it was not easy.

After some discussion, it was decided that we would completely rewrite the documentation for 1.0. The choice of editor was easy -- AbiWord, of course. The improvements that were made to AbiWord's XHTML export feature meant that we could write documentation in AbiWord and then export good XHTML for use in the actual help system. The plan is to have the process completely automated, but that isn't quite done. Experts at perl scripting might be able to help.

As usual with Open Source projects, several people have worked on the help system. Michael Johnson wrote several of the early docs, and Alper Atici, Scott Bingman, John Clark, Tomas Frydrych, Alan Horkan, and Dom Lachowicz have all contributed to the process. I've done much of the work, though, in part because help files do not lend themselves to multiple contributors as easily as code files do.

The biggest problem with writing documentation for a project as active as AbiWord is that the target keeps moving. Sometimes, the day after I wrote the help file for a menu, someone would add a new function to it. They wouldn't always tell me this, either. With the earlier versions, there were problems working out whether the odd behavior was what AbiWord was supposed to do, or whether it was a bug. Sometimes this was easy: the help files which said 'This button crashes AbiWord' have all now been revised to reflect the new behavior. With the latest versions, the behavior of the program has largely stabilized.

Which is just as well, because the contents of the documentation have now been frozen. I still need to add screenshots, and prepare the files for export to XHTML, but most of the 1.0 help system is done.

But at the moment it's quite basic. The whole interface is documented, but there are only a few "How To" files, and even fewer information files to explain the inner workings of the program. Once 1.0 has been released, we will want to expand the help files, and include an index and a tutorial. And then, we will want as much help as we can get.