POW (usability test) report

Frodo Looijaard (frodol@dds.nl)
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 18:18:35 +0200 (CEST)

Hi folks,

first off, I would like to thank all developers for working on AbiWord.
Though it is not 'there' yet, it shows very much promise. I find it
already good enough to start using it on small documents.

I saw the new POW on the abiword-dev list archive, so I thought I would
offer some feedback.

Platform: Linux kernel 2.2.12, gcc 2.8.1, gtk 1.2.6, abiword 0.7.6

Installation: Quite smoothly. I missed a DESTDIR prefix (which allows
you to install to some other directory than the one you will run the
program from), but that was easy to add (if interested, please mail me).

Spelling: I wanted to set the default spelling check wordlist to a dutch
hash file I had prepared with ispell-3.1.20, but AbiWord crashed on it.
I finally figured out I had my ispell compiled with MASKBITS=128. Even
when I changed this setting in AbiWord and recompiled, it still did not
work. Solution: regenerate the hashfile with a 64-bits ispell. Others
may stumble upon this...

So next, I wanted to write a letter. Because I will probably write more
of them, I started with making a default template. Of course, this is
not really supported yet, so I just created a AbiWord file which I reload
and edit as needed. Once AbiWord 1.0 has shipped, it may be a good idea
to examine some macro language additions. As long as it is not that awful
Basic language that is distributed with Microsoft Office!

I suppose the ruler at the top works for people, but I found it very
unintuitive. I have still not figured out completely how it works.
What I wanted was a center tab, and though I tried a lot of things,
I have not found them. What I finally did was set new margins for a
selected block, and center the text within the block. That won't work
if you want anything else on the line beside the center tab, but
I was lucky and I just needed it to center my 'from' address. A 'help'
function might have helped here.

The default point size of the Normal style is 10 points. I wanted to
set my letter in 12 points, which of course works. But if you select
a line and delete it, you start again at 10 points. This is kind of
logical, but it is somewhat irritating, because you can not edit the
Normal style yet, or define your own alternative. I need to do this
relatively often (deleting lines) because of the template approach I

There are quite a lot of update problems: pixels are not removed
always, so there is some 'dirt' on the page. This is not really bad
(scrolling down and then up solves it), but it should be fixed.

The final thing I have tried to do is to make AbiWord my default
RTF and MS Word viewer. The problem is that, though it tries to open
a file on the command-line, it does no auto-detecting of the file
format. That is a pity, and should be easy to fix.

All in all, I got my letter finished without too much trouble, and
it looked fine. Not bad for a 0.7.x version!

Keep up the good work!

Frodo Looijaard <frodol@dds.nl>  PGP key and more: http://huizen.dds.nl/~frodol
Defenestration n. (formal or joc.):
  The act of removing Windows from your computer in disgust, usually followed
  by the installation of Linux or some other Unix-like operating system.

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