This article uses reader role theory to explain the dramatic failure of Paper-clip, the interface to Office 97's online help system. Called an Office Assistant, it is designed to shield users from the complexities of the software. Problems with Paper-clip surfaced as soon as Office 97 was launched. This article explains the Paper-clip controversy in terms of reader role conflicts by showing why actual readers rejected Paper-clip's role as implied writer and why they rebelled against the reader role Paper-clip implied for them.
In Microsoft Word, you can use menus and toolbars to control how you manage your documents. Menus display a list of commands. Most menus are located on the menu bar at the top of the Word window. Shortcut menus are available when you right-click text, objects, or other items. Toolbars can contain buttons with images, menus, or a combination of both. By default, the Standard and Formatting toolbars are docked side by side below the menu bar. You can also add a custom menu to your toolbar.
In addition to being open source, saving as XML makes OpenOffice truly open. Aside from being open source, XML's self-documenting nature allows us to dive into the document format without having to dive into C++. And more significantly, XML allows us to use simple, free tools to manipulate the documents themselves. In this article we will examine the structure of the format.
The era of desktop publishing is over, and I must bid Microsoft Word and several other desktop applications good-bye. In case you think I'm singling out Microsoft, it's not just MS Word, but also OpenOffice, GoogleOffice, or any application that makes what we used to call 'documents'. Nowadays, I'm simply using a wiki for collaborative information sharing and a blog for online reporting.
If you can't understand a program, then you can't debug it. Even with code that you have written yourself, if you come back to it six months or a year later, you may find yourself wondering “Why on earth did I write that? What was it for?” It doesn't take long to forget the details of a program when you aren't working on it any more. Make life easier for yourself, and write programs as clearly as possible. Also, provide such defences as you can against the possibility that VBA might change between versions of Word.
WebWorks AutoMap is an extremely useful tool for performing unattended documentation builds. Out of the box, AutoMap can generate reasonable documents. By adding the power of scripting, the results can be amazing.
If you’ve used Microsoft Word for any length of time, you’ve probably begun using its key automation features, such as macros and automatic text. If you’re as gung ho as I am, you’ve accumulated a significant collection of these shortcuts. You probably even depend on them for getting work done efficiently. You’ve also probably spent some time adding words to the software’s custom dictionaries, and may even have created specialized dictionaries for certain genres that have their own jargon. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you somehow lost all that hard work?
As a member of my country's national standards body committee on electronic data processing, I lately spend considerable time deliberating what our position should be in the upcoming Office Open XML ISO Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva. My biggest objection concerns large parts of the standard that are proposed to live in an Annex containing normative descriptions of deprecated features that will only be used by existing binary documents. The rationale behind this decision is backwards compatibility. My opinion is that this solution is counterproductive for a number of reasons.
Several weeks ago, a supercilious colleague informed me that spell checkers and grammar checkers had rendered editors and proofreaders obsolete. When I attempted to explain that electronic grammar and spelling checkers are not reliable because they yield false negatives and false positives, she disagreed strongly. I went on to further explain that language is more complex than any computer can fathom, and that until artificial intelligence truly arrives, the best grammar checking program will continue to live between our ears. I am sorry to say that my colleague arrogantly declared that I was mistaken. I wrote the verse below in her honor.
One possible outcome: Microsoft Office gains support for the OASIS OpenDocument format, either from Microsoft or from the open source community. Another outcome: Microsoft tweaks its Office XML licensing to conform to the definition of openness that governments are rightly insisting on.
Having read, with interest, the recent articles about the virtues (or otherwise) of Microsoft Word as a tool for producing technical documents we feel the real issue is not how to create technical documents using Microsoft Word, but rather what tool best suits the task. We suggest that the selection of the most appropriate tool be instigated by those enlightened people -- the Technical Publications people -- and not the business managers with little knowledge of the specialist needs of Technical Publications.
When you first switch to Writer, this claim that Writer beats Word may seem hard to swallow. And no wonder; you're too busy learning the new menus to get beyond the fact that everything's only half-familiar. And if you're an unsophisticated user who has yet to learn (to steal the title of Robin Williams' book) that the PC is not a typewriter, you might never notice. However, if you're an advanced user for whom style, structured text and long documents are all part of word processing, then the claim soon becomes self-evident.
The ease of copying and pasting text from Web sites and email greatly simplifies many tasks in Word, but problems often arise in making the pasted text conform to the style of the document into which it is pasted. One of the most common chores is getting rid of excess line breaks, which cause the text to wrap short of the right margin. There are several ways to work around this problem.
Word processing programs have come a long way since I first used WordStar on an old DEC CP/M machine back in the 80s. But despite the drastic difference between then and now, there is so little difference between today's offerings and those of three years ago. Word processing programs have more or less stagnated, and that has given small companies and open-source projects the advantage they needed to create excellent low-cost or free alternatives to the ubiquitous Microsoft Word.
Experienced users of Microsoft Word may take awhile to discover how to do common tasks in OOWriter, because some of the menus and the terminology are a bit different; in a few cases no direct equivalent method is available. This series of pages summarizes my research and experiments with OOoWriter 1.1 on Windows ME. You may find some differences if you're using another operating system or version of OpenOffice.
I'm happy to report that OpenOffice.org 1.1.0 does a very good job of converting Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP files to OOo files -- much better than the previous releases I tested. Most of the problems I had noticed with conversions done by OOo1.0.2 did not appear when I converted the same Word files using OOo1.1.0. Some conversion problems remain. Most of these are probably due to OOoWriter not having any counterpart to some features of Word.
Microsoft Word supports many file formats which can be used as a Data Source for a mail merge. This article covers specifications and frequently asked questions on the most commonly used Data Sources, along with how to set up a Data Source in Word.
This page is an excerpt from Taming OpenOffice.org Writer (no longer available). A variation of this material is in OpenOffice.org Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word. Yes, master documents do work in OpenOffice.org Writer. However, you need to have a very disciplined approach to make sure they work correctly and reliably.