Re: Features V stability

Subject: Re: Features V stability
From: Ron Ross (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 09:31:48 CDT

Sam TH <> writes:

> On Thu, May 03, 2001 at 10:37:28PM -0400, Ron Ross wrote:
> > A corrective followup to my previous post:
> > I hope this is useful to others. It was a revelation to me, for
> > off-topic reasons, because I was in the habit of using a feature of
> > WordPerfect that should perhaps be considered a bug (or bad hack) and
> > that I had even been considering for an AW bug report/feature request!
> > On terminating a numbered paragraph, in all mentioned word processors,
> > another such paragraph with an incremented number is automatically
> > created. In AW and Word, if you hit return again, the listing is ended
> > and you're back to "normal" (or whatever). In WP, a second return adds a
> > newline previous to the new autogenerated numbered paragraph, pushing
> > the latter and the cursor position down one line, and you can add as
> > many such intermediate newlines as desired while preserving your
> > position in the ordered paragraphs. This makes it easy, as a Normal
> > User, to produce the desired spacing layout for listed items, in the
> > same sense that the normal user usually hits return twice between
> > paragraphs instead of defining inter-paragraph spacing in their default
> > paragraph style. Moral: don't do that. But this also calls for a robust,
> > logical, consistent and intuitive styles implementation and interface,
> > which no word processor now provides. More on that later.
> What do you think would be a good user interface to adding lines
> between list items?

It really depends. If the point is to have that extra space between list
items, then, I realize now, that should be entirely done with styles. I
think this is a good example of inconsistency in word processor
treatment or interface to styles. In all of them, a list item is a
paragraph style, you'll find it in the pull-down list of styles.
However, in Word, if you place the cursor in the text of a list-item
paragraph, the little style box does not reflect the fact, it just shows
"Normal". On the other hand, you've got the Bullets and Numbers dialog
box, which provides the user with a simple interface to do the simple
thing of creating a list of items marked by symbols or numbers or
whathaveyou while doing all the magic paragraph formating to make it
work that would indeed be a chore to redefine every time if you had to
do it yourself every time. But that dialog box does not give you access
to all the paragraph formatting so that you can tweak it: in the nested
dialog box that pops up when you click on the "Customize..." button, you
have lots of things you can do with the identation and with the display
of the number/symbol, but not the paragraph spacing. Presumably, you're
to do this through the separate "Paragraph" formating dialog box. But
what are you then modifying? just that paragraph and paragraphs
immediately generated from it (by going to the last character and
pressing enter) irrespective of either the "Normal" style or the "List"
style but coexistent with them? The list item style itself? Obviously
not. Or the "Normal" style? And the styles lists (either from the pull
down menu or from Format->Style either show too little information (when
selecting "styles in use", which does not reflect all the styles in use)
or too much (when selecting "all styles").

It goes on and on. I'm tired and I have to leave, but I'm interested in
replying to the question and will come back to it, perhaps more

For starters, though, and off-hand, #1 below seems like the "correct"
way of doing it... but there's an issue concerning user expectation
here that I'll have to consider more carefully.

> Currently, AW works like this:
> If you hit return twice, it eliminates the new list element. In other
> words, RET-RET behaves exactly like RET-BKSP.
> There are a few possibilites here:
> 1. The second return could generate another new list element, leaving
> the previous new one blank. [ This is how the first AW implementation
> worked ]
> 2. The new return could behave like backspace, the way it currently
> does in AW and Word.
> 3. The new return could insert a blank line *before* the current list
> element, the way you describe WordPerfect working.
> 4. The new return could add another line to the document, at the end,
> but without a list header on it.
> The only way currently to insert the blank lines you are talking about
> is to go back to the beginning of the line the new list element is on,
> and hit return. I think this qualifies as definitely non-intuitive.
> Does anyone have suggestions for improving this interface?
> Thanks
> sam th --- ---
> OpenPGP Key: CABD33FC ---
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