Re: A Proposal (why we should have setBold(true))

Subject: Re: A Proposal (why we should have setBold(true))
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 11:14:40 CDT

there's been a lot of good suggestions in this thread.
as the author of the code in question, let me try to
explain what was done and why and perhaps make a few
suggestions for improvement....

> Subject: A Proposal (why we should have setBold(true))
> From: sam th (
> Date: Sat May 27 2000 - 05:09:23 CDT
> ...
> Currently, there is a 1-1 relationship between the text of the attributes
> of an element in the XML produced by abiword and the representation of
> formatting in the pt. (actually, the piece table uses a hash table, but
> the principle is the same.) This makes life very easy for the .abw
> importer - all it has to do is pass the attributes unchanged into the
> piece table. However, this means that the means of acessing the piece
> table are (IMHO) the worst sort of low level routines. It works well for
> the abw importer, since it doesn't have to get down and dirty
> parsing attributes, constructing string arrays, and then passing them to
> the pt.

the PT was designed to handle straight XML with attributes
and CSS properties -- without any knowledge of
what the various attr/props meant. the primary
goal of the PT is to represent the document (both
as imported and as it is edited) and to be able
to undo/redo modifications.

> Additionally, the abw file format has very little concept of
> inheritance. It never has to inherit within the same level, such as a
> block.

this is a **good thing** after dealing with the HTML
mess, we didn't want to recreate this. [actually, the
importer will support this (properly nested <spans>),
but we flatten them pretty quickly.] also, it was our
goal that the style mechanism would quickly be available
(the mechanism is in place, but most of the UI work
never got done) so that most text in the document would
just reference a named style (like "Heading1") and not
be a long sequence of attr/props.

> ...
> The upshot of this is that I have to keep track of what state everything
> is in, so that I can regenerate the property list for each new element
> that I create. Needless to say, this makes for ugly code. However, I
> don't think this should be the importer's job.

i agree that this is ugly and tedious, but it doesn't
belong in the PT (proper) -- it's already doing too
much. and besides, the PT wants to have things nice
and flat.

> ...
> However, this additon wouldn't just make my life easier.
> ...
> 1 - take a look at _toggleSpan in ap_EditMethods.cpp (line 3415)
> ...
> 2 - think about scripting. Eventually, we will want to add a scripting

> From: Eric W. Sink (
> Date: Sat May 27 2000 - 09:26:53 CDT
> ...
> Have a look at the toolbar state management code.

> From: Martin Sevior (
> Date: Sat May 27 2000 - 08:13:26 CDT
> ...
> As far as I'm concerned you're pushing on an open door. When
> implementing "Insert Symbol" I would have loved such functions to
> implement the font querying and changes rather than using props queries.

yes, this is the problem -- we never took the time to consolidate
the 'command' functions into a single place. the toolbar has
some, the menubar has some, the status bar has some, the rulers
have some, the edit methods, and the various importers have some.

> From: sam th (
> Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 02:45:51 CDT
> ...
> Currently, the ptbl stuff assumes that the only time you need to muck
> around with it directly is in the importer(s). All the other fun stuff
> goes throught FV_View. This is fortunate for everybody else, because the
> ptbl by itself is pretty useless for individual editing. The reason for
> this is that FV_View maintains an insertion point (of type
> PT_DocPosition). Now, if you have the current insertion point, the ptbl
> suddenly becomes lots friendlier. You can find out stuff about the
> precise point in the ptbl. However, there's no good way (AFAICT) to
> discover where you are in the document from the ptbl code. And when you
> are in an importer, you don't have the luxury of a view.

we also failed to divide the FMT code properly (part of it is
dealing with editing and selection and part is dealing with
formatting and drawing)...

> From: Bruce Pearson (
> Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 12:30:24 CDT
> ...
> The DOCUMENT holds the information.
> The VIEW display a current view of the document. (Toolbars and status bars
> are also views).
> The CONTROLLER controls the state of the document. (Toolbars call functions
> of controller eg. setBold)

yes. we have most of this, but it needs some work.

> Structuring it this way we can create a controller to edit a document and
> call functions in the controller like setBold, etc to edit a document. This
> controller can then be used by the importer, scripting language, etc.

yes, this needs to be created and have all of the code in the tool
bars, menu, edit methods, and fv_view and etc moved/consolidated.

> A document should store a list of views. When a document is modified it then
> sends a message to the attached views telling the views that they need to
> update the view of the current document. Right now the view changes the
> document and then needs to work out how to change its own view of the
> document.

wait, we already have this. each document has a list of DocListeners
that receive notification when the document changes, including the
doc positions and the info about what changed. the doc listener in
src/text/fmt handles formatting and updating the screen. the goal was
that we could have multiple different DocListeners which would display
different types of view (page layout, outline, normal mode, etc).

> The controller stores the current insertion point and also various
> information like selection start and end points. When this information
> changes (eg use presses left arrow) the controller does required operations
> and then tells the view to update its view of the insertion point. i.e. View
> is also a view of the controller.

we also have this in the text/fmt (primarily fv_view) code,
but it could be isolated better.

[also, we also have a list of "ViewListeners" which need to respond
when things like the insertion point or the current selection changes;
these are hanging off of the view.]

> Implementing this at this stage may or may not be a huge job and may bring
> up a whole range of other implementation issues. Does any body have any
> comments. Is this something we need to do now or should other things be done
> before hand.

i've not been active on the project for a while, so i don't
know what's pressing or urgent at this time. but, if you
wanted to create a "controller" class and put a lot of the
Get/Set methods that various parts of the app needs in it.
and move the code out of the tool bars, menus, edit methods,
and etc, that would be a good thing.

what would really help is to look at the naming of things
in the src/text/fmt directory. yes, we tried to be good here,
but too much stuff got added and some of it got named poorly.
(for example, most of what we're describing here as "controller"
is in FV_View. part of the problem is that "VIEW" is an overloaded

now, before we do anything, we need to remember that we
allow multiple windows on a document and each needs to
work somewhat independently (multiple insertion points
and (later) multiple renderings (page-mode vs normal mode)).
so, we can't just push things down into the PieceTable.

it would be nice if the controller were abstracted
out of the text/fmt directory and sub-classable. so i
can have basic cursor motion/selection working for all
types of "windows" and then be able to sub-class it for
the quirks of outline-mode...

for now, it's probably best to limit the conversation
to re-doing text/fmt without worrying about other types
of views. (one overhaul at a time please :-)

finally, for what it's worth, i know manipulating lists of
attr/props is a pain-in-the-a$$ and keeping the PieceTable
ignorant of their meaning is (in some places) painful, but
it lets us do nice things elsewhere. for example, someone
was able to add overstrike without worrying about whether
it broke undo/redo....

so, i think we should cut up FV_View and add some nice
Set/IsSet verbs (and perhaps rename a few things for
clarity) and not make any changes to the PieceTable.

hope this helps,

[please direct any replies to the list rather than me

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