Re: feature usage in my office

Subject: Re: feature usage in my office
From: Ron Ross (
Date: Tue May 08 2001 - 01:30:49 CDT

"Virgil Arrington Jr." <> writes:

> Ron Ross wrote:

> >This is *not* an indictment of word processor users. The authors of the
> >documents I've reported on are educated, intelligent people, and many
> >have a long publishing history. If educated and intelligent people are
> >still confused by style usage in the word processors they've been using
> >for years, then the onus is unquestionably on the design of those word
> >processors.
> Amen, Ron. Our office recently switched from WordPerfect to Word. The
> change has been gutwrenching for most of the clerical staff. Although
> WP had styles available, it was so convoluted that no one ever used it.
> In making this change, I have found that styles is the *only* way to go
> with Word - and I look forward to seeing them implemented in AbiWord.
> This isn't a problem for me because my documents are relatively simple
> in terms of formatting. Even so, it took me several days of dedicated
> style preparation to get them just where I wanted them. But, my
> secretaries, who draft numerous different types of documents,
> steadfastly refuse to attempt to learn or set up styles. Their
> complaint is that they are too busy creating documents to take the time
> to learn and set up styles. They make a good point.
They do, at the start, but they would save so much time afterwards. One
journal I review documents for sends them to me in batches a few weeks
before each issue. I save the styles I will use to a file and then apply
that set to each document. I never have to format a single a heading,
byline, note or paragraph (except sometimes, to clean up extraneous
returns). The graphic designer I forward them to claimed I was his hero
(except last time, when we futzed over Mac-Win-latin-1 character
mangling issues -- he called me a geek... and I didn't even tell him I
had attempted to do it all from Linux ;-).

> Unfortunately, for
> those who learned their craft on typewriters, styles are a daunting new
> way of thinking.

There's the rub. It's not just typewriters. It's whether the world is a
concatenation of discrete events, or some kind of matrix of interlaced
structures. Or whether we want to work/create in one or the other. It's
a very open question, for me. I loved my typewriter (an Olivetti, I can
still remember!). Tac, tac, tac, the letters, one after the other,
indelibly set on paper ... But one of the only ways I've found to at
least partly capture that now is to cat some text directly to file in a
text terminal. But even then, you have to *name* the file for Pete's
sake, and put it in a directory! I've got several little functions in
Emacs that attempt to help me write to... nowhere, and still save the

> Good luck to the AbiWord developers in responding to
> Ron's challenge.

AbiWord developers are doing really, really great.

All the best,

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