Design suggestion: outline mode (was Re: AbiWord 0.7.3 cooments)
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 21:15:14 +0100

>I've had 3 hour editing sessions, with no problems.
>I'll confess that I wished for tables and outline
>mode quite a few times during those 3 hours

Just on the off-chance that this inspires someone more capable than myself
to implement 'outlining', I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on how this
ought to be designed.

I think that introducing an 'outline mode' would be a mistake, because the
use of modes is contrary to the aim to 'keep it simple'. I believe that
Word 97's five 'view modes' make it more complex than it needs to be.

However, outlining facilities _are_ useful, so it would be good to
introduce them without introducing a new mode. All I believe that is
required are equivalents to Word 97's 'outline level' paragraph attribute,
and Document Map view.

'Outline level' should be a editable like any other paragraph attribute (as
on Word's Paragraph dialogue box), because that's all it is - a property of
a paragraph. To treat outline level differently to paragraph alignment,
say, would be perverse and add unnecessary complexity. At least Word gets
the values right: 'Level 1' - 'Level 9', and 'Body text', which maps nicely
to HTML.

Visualising the document outline is also essential, in the same way that
you want to see paragraph alignment. I think that Word's 'Document map' is
much more useful for this than its 'Outline view', and having both is just
'bloat'. It would be better just to have the former, and call it 'Document

Peter Hilton
(Any opinions expressed in this message are mine, not my employer's)

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