Archive for the ‘OOo’ Category

Radio script techniques

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

Below the fold are nerdy notes may be applicable to other sorts of research and document construction. Also, they will remind me what to do next time.


Upgrading OOo

Saturday, February 19th, 2005

OOo 2.0 is nearly in beta, and pretty much usable. There are new builds coming out every week or so, and it has finally reached the condition of stability where you can simply copy over the whole user directory to a new installation and it will, just about, work straight off as it was working before. What I do now is to uninstall the old build form the control panel, install the new one, and then, before I run it for the first time, simple make a renamed copy of my user directory which contains all the macros, dictionaries, and customisations that I need to make it usable. This used reliably to crash the thing, back when they were changing the layout of the config files. Now it works fine, which means that it takes five minutes to upgrade, rather than half an hour.

semantic styles

Monday, January 17th, 2005

As usual when work presses, I bubble over with brilliant procrastination. Here’s a bit. Now that OOo has an invisible attribute for text, an MS Word style outliner is just a bunch of macros away. The only hard bit would be making the toolbar to list the levels you want shown or hidden.

But in the mean time there is already the opportunity to do semantic highlighting. There is an icon on the main toolbar which paints selected text with a highlight colour by changing the background colour. Instead of that, just make a set of character styles which have these colours, but informative names: the example that occurs to me is when you have a bunch of quotes on different subjects that you want to pull out of an interview transcript. They could be colour-coded by subject (or, from a different sort of transcript, by speaker). So the coloured styles are named for the meaning they convey. Then a macro goes through and extracts all the quotes of a particular colour into another file, or, if you’re me, ecco.

I already have, and use for
analysis, a system where bookmarked sections are highlighted and pulled out like this. But at the moment they are organised by bookmark names. Colours and style names are quicker and clearer.

A better class of support

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

This just came up on one of the support lists for the next openoffice beta:

Hi Juraj,

> It does not work.

Where would you put the check mark?

[ ] it does nothing
[ ] it copies too much data
[ ] it does not copy enough data
[ ] it copies wrong data
[ ] it crashes OOo
[ ] It colores your screen
[ ] it explodes your microwave oven
[ ] it laughs at you
[ ] it inseminates your cat

In other words: What does “it does not work” mean? And, while we are at it, how exactly are you doing it?

Christmas must have come early in Hamburg.

I should add that the man who posted this has been, over the years, the most helpful and responsive programmer I have ever dealt with at Sun. He really does listen to well-formed complaints and gets them fixed or provides convincing explanations as to why they can’t be. I’d rather have this kind of response than any amount of po-faced stonewalling.

One elegant trick

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

When using OOo: the language of a passsage is an attribute of the character formating. This seems silly until you have multilingual dictionaries installed. Then the words marked as Swedish are checked against a Swedish dictionary and Swedish alternatives are offered by the spellchecker. It looks like magic.

With that said, I’m surprised that Mälaren isn’t recognised. It’s like have “Thames” rejected by an Enlgish dictionary.

Multiple document tricks

Sunday, August 1st, 2004

One of the less finished, potentially useful bits of Openoffice is the Navigator. It ought to let you move and link multiple documents to your heart’s content, showing the structure of each one as it does so, with headings, bookmarks, notes, and so on.

It almost does; and almost works as an outliner. Here are the tricks I use when assembling radio scripts from eight different interviews, put here partly so I remember them next time I make a radio programme.

  • To get a listing of all open files, right click on an empty space. This shows all of them. The silly file list at the bottom only shows four at a time.
  • Clicking on a displayed bookmark in another document does nothing, though you can drag it into the one you’re working on
  • Double-clicking on a heading displayed from another document will open the other document at once in the main window at the heading you choose.
  • In tools -> outline numbering, set the outline level of default/normal text to 10. Then the first line of every par shows up in the Navigator jsut as it can be set to show in Word.

Interesting posts resume shortly.

five minutes’ hate

Thursday, July 8th, 2004

On May 29 2003 I found a bug in OpenOffice, and submitted it in proper form: if you are moving through text by sentences — and the ability to do this was the first thing I liked about the program — the cursor won’t stop after a sentence where the last word is capitalised.

It is small, irritating, and not very complicated.

By June 12 2003 it had been identified by a responsible developer. By June 29 2003 there was an internal fix. This actually appeared in an alpha version nine months later on April 24th 2004. It has, however, been replaced in these alpha versions by a new bug which means that moving backwards by sentence is completely broke, and now moves (or deletes) by paragraph, or sometimes two sentences, instead. So I am still skipping sentences that end with a capital letter.

outlines in OOo

Monday, June 28th, 2004

One of the things that people miss most in Openoffice is an outline mode. In fact, there is a pretty good substitute, hidden behind a witless interface. By assigning heading level to text styles, you can then organise and manipulate text in the navigator pane, which shows the first line of text with a heading level (headings below a certian level can be arbitratrily hidden). This is useful, and relatively easy. However, it is almost impossible to stumble on, since heading levels aren’t applied to styles by default. To find them, you have to go into tools/outline numbering and them apply heading levels, but NOT numbering to the styles you want to use in an outline. You can give plain text a low heading level, and then the system works properly. But why is it so ludicrously well-hidden? It has nothing to do with numbering at all.

Changing cases

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Perhaps the single most irritating, because most brainless, bug in OOo is the one which means that changes of case are not preserved when exporting to other formats. This means that copy submitted in Word or Ascii (and what other formats are there?) is full of AMateuriSh CApitalisations which don’t show on the author’s screen but only on the recipients’. I’ve had a macro that fixes this for ages, but it only worked for words that started with unaccented letters. Now, under prodding from a Hungarian reader, F

The opposite of support

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Sometimes I think that anyone who has ever used Linux should be banned from any contact with the public. The trouble is that they can almost communicate with normal humans. They use the same words. But they only have one message. Whatever the problem, their answer is “use Linux”; I’d simply add that if the answer to your problem is in fact Linux, you need professional help.

This comes up frequently on the Openoffice mailing lists. Someone will ask about compatibility with Word, and get a long lecture about the wickedness of proprietary file formats, the superiority of OOo’s native format and how they need to send the file as a PDF, or send the recipient a copy of openoffice, or any number of damn fool things like that, when all the poor fish wants to know is how to save as .doc files.