AbiWord 0.7.6

Paul Rohr (paul@abisource.com)
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 15:56:22 -0700

... is out. There's a ton of cool stuff in this release, but before I
summarize it, I'd like to take the opportunity to:

As an Open Source project, we're constantly asked two questions by AbiWord

(by users) When will my favorite feature get implemented?
(by hackers) How can I help? Where should I start?

In an attempt to answer both questions at once, this past month we've
introduced the concept of a Project of the Week, or POW (pronounced "pow",
like in the comic books). We're actively looking for volunteers to tackle
each of the four currently outstanding POWs:

- CS folks wanted...
- Toggle Rulers
- Improve our release practices
- Word Count dialog

For more details, see the POW page on the website:


Selected highlights since 0.7.5 include:

1. FreeBSD binaries. AbiWord has been known to run on FreeBSD for quite
some time now, thanks to the efforts of folks like Ming-I Hsieh

Now, as of 0.7.6, we've begun releasing native FreeBSD binaries of AbiWord.
Our thanks go to the good folks at FreeBSD.org who provided a machine to
build them on.

2. Spelling. One of our most frequent complaints has been that there was
no good way to make those pesky red squiggles go away. Now there are a
bunch. For those who prefer dialogs, Justin Bradford <justin@ukans.edu> has
added a spiffy Spelling dialog with the usual Ignore / Add / Change
functionality, including suggestions and a custom dictionary. For lazy
folks like me, you can just pull up a context menu and make 'em go away
directly. :-)

3. Zoom and Paragraph dialogs. We've had most of this functionality in the
UI for a while now (via the toolbar and ruler), but dialogs are nice too.
So, Shaw is currently on a kick to add dialogs which use those cool little
preview widgets. I think you'll agree that they were well worth waiting

(Unfortunately, Thomas has a day job, so we had to ship the Be version
without any of these spiffy new dialogs. The BeOS-specific work is quite
straightforward, so any Be folks who aren't willing to wait for him should
fire up their compilers and help out.)

4. Justification. Bruce Pearson <BruceP@wn.com.au> makes his debut as an
AbiWord developer by reworking the formatter to add support for full
paragraph justification.

5. Clipboard improvements. I suspect there's code in here that Jeff didn't
rewrite, but I'm not sure how much. Anyhow, the net effect is that, in
addition to nuking bugs like 537, 551, and 555, the clipboard code has been
streamlined to be much more efficient. Among other things, middle-mouse X
selections should Just Work now, too.

6. Localization. The following translations have been added or updated:

French -- Philippe Duperron <duperron@mail.dotcom.fr>
Norwegian -- Edouard Lafargue <Edouard.Lafargue@bigfoot.com> and
Gro Elin Hansen <Gro.Hansen@student.uib.no>

Translators, please check the console output for new strings which need to
be translated. The -dumpstrings command-line argument will now produce a
valid XML file containing a complete set of the current English values for
those strings.

7. More Unicode-friendly. While our documents have always used Unicode
internally, there have been a number of places in the code where only ASCII
or Latin-1 characters would work -- especially the keyboard handling and
ispell. Recently, Jeff has been leading an effort to tidy up a lot of that,
but there's still plenty of work to do:


Our design goal for AbiWord is that it's a product that Just Works, and we'd
be thrilled if that were true for non-Latin-1 languages, too. However,
we're short on the time and expertise needed to make this happen, including
details on:

- how to switch code pages when interacting with keyboards and fonts on
various platforms

- how to get ispell to recognize anything other than ASCII characters

Anyone interested in helping to make AbiWord work better for non-Latin-1
languages should contact abiword-dev@abisource.com and let us know which
parts you'd like to tackle.

8. Smarter preferences. Jeff and Justin added a new UseEnvLocale
preference. When set, instead of always defaulting to the builtin EnUS
interface, AbiWord will instead use your system LOCALE setting to figure out
what language to use for display. You can always explicitly override this
in the usual way.

Also, Jeff-added support for system-wide profiles (#393). These are
override values in the internal "_builtin_" set. For more details, see:


9. Word import improvements. Caolan continues to crank away on libwv,
recognizing more and more of the Word 97, 95, and 6.0 file formats. Most of
these aren't visible in the UI yet, but trust me -- he's cranking!

Also, Justin introduced some buffering logic which definitely speeds up Word
import. For documents with minimal formatting, the effect is particularly

10. Miscellaneous. Larry Kollar <kollar@stc.net> wrote an administration
guide for Unix users (abi/docs/UnixAdmin.abw). Makefile upgrades for
various platforms (irix, aix, hpux, irix64, osf1) so they now have a default
implementation for the "make install" and "make distribution" targets. HTML
export no longer fails for files with blank paragraphs.

Finally, I reworded that infamous "unimplemented dialog" message to make it
less confusing for non-programmers. Everyone else is encouraged to help us
make sure that message goes away entirely. ;-)



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