- 1 Introduction
- 2 List of Auto-completion Features in OOo
- 3 Interaction Designs
- 4 Issues
- 4.1 Remark
- 4.2 Issues with discoverability
- 4.3 Issues with navigation
- 4.4 Issues making difficult to enter content
- 4.5 Inconsistency between Calc and Writer
- 4.6 Inconsistency with auto-complete features from other products
- 4.7 Other issues
This page list all parts of OpenOffice.org providing some kind of auto-completion feature, then compare and discuss their respective user interfaces.
We will not question the usefulness of these features nor the origin and appropriateness of the items in the suggestion list. We will rather focus on interaction design.
Status: work in progress.
List of Auto-completion Features in OOo
- Word Completion for words in text.
- AutoInput for cells contents.
- For completion of named ranges:
- In the 'Name Zone' (not sure about the name, translated from french 'Zone de Nom'): the drop-down menu in the formula bar.
- In the Insert > Names > Define… dialog.
- In the Data > Define range… dialog.
- 'Search' fields:
- In the Help > OpenOffice.org Help dialog.
- In the Edit > Find & Replace… dialog.
There are three different interfaces for auto-completions in OpenOffice.org:
- Word Completion
- Some text fields (which are also drop-down menus) use an interaction design similar to AutoInput in Calc for auto-completion.
We list a lot of issues (see the full list). Many of these issues are closed as INVALID or WORKSFORME, but it is rather a consequence of unexperienced reporters setting the issue type as DEFECT instead of ENHANCEMENT. These issues and the associated discussions still are valuable for this evaluation.
Issues with discoverability
- The feature is hard to find in the menu because of unadapted intermediary steps:
- In Calc, the option is located in Tools > Cell content > AutoInput. This is illogical since the feature does not deal with cell content, but about the method used to input that content. For examples of users that do not find this menu entry, see Issue 40908 , Issue 17505 and Issue 93483 .
- In Writer, the option is configured via a tab in the Tools > AutoCorrect… dialog. But semantically, 'AutoInput' does not correct what the user has typed, it just helps her/him to enter it. So it is likely that many users wanting to configure AutoInput do not find where to make the changes (to do: look for issues).
- The name of the feature AutoInput is poorly chosen, and it has consequences on discoverability, because it does not match the name spontaneously given by most users when talking about the feature, which is 'auto-completion'. As a consequence, users looking for the feature may not recognize that this is the feature they are looking for (see last comment in Issue 34417 ). The reason why 'AutoInput' has been preferred to auto-completion in Calc seems to be that it does not complete a word, but suggests a previous input. This is a questionable choice.
- The lack of feedback explicating what happened after completion, may in many cases (such as Issue 47848 or Issue 51483 ) prevent the user to understand the feature, or even that there is a feature. We then miss an occasion to learn the user a new feature.
- AutoInput in Calc uses the Sort Lists defined in Tools > Options… > OpenOffice.org Calc > Sort Lists as sources for AutoInput, changing the capitalization accordingly (see Issue 3765 ). But it does not use it as a source for completion suggestions, so the user cannot know that this change of capitalization is done by AutoInput (and may think it is done by AutoCorrect such as in Issue 55331 ). The user then cannot know that it can be disabled with Tools > Cell Content > AutoInput.
- In Calc: AutoInput prevents the use of the Tab key to change cell. See Issue 18748 and Issue 7566 . See also Issue 81213 , which is a request for enhancement.
Issues making difficult to enter content
Difficulty to discard suggested completion
- For all auto-complete feature working in a similar way than AutoInput in Calc, it may be hard to discard suggested completion.
- In some cases, suggestion may also be completely useless and systematically needs to be discarded. See Issue 56469 for examples.
Issues with capitalization
- In Calc: when the word is written in extenso, AutoInput has no other effect than changing capitalization. Many users then complains that it is not possible to enter some word with two different capitalizations in the same column, see Issue 73036 , Issue 5743 , Issue 47848 , Issue 51483 , Issue 51236 , Issue 52784 , Issue 96332 and Issue 77763 . See also Issue 60144 , which is still open because it explicitly questions the fact that auto-completion should not occur when the word is typed in extenso, but Issue 1342 is a request for enhancement of that behavior that has been accepted.
- Rules concerning capitalization in AutoInput are very unpredictable and depend upon the capitalization of both the first cell containing the text and the text typed, with different kind of capitalization (first letter, all caps, no caps at all…). [It needs more work to tell exactly how it works.]
- AutoInput in Calc uses the Sort Lists defined in Tools > Options… > OpenOffice.org Calc > Sort Lists as sources for AutoInput, changing the capitalization accordingly (see Issue 3765 , Issue 88908 , Issue 69984 and Issue 71138 ). Also, Issue 29042 is a request for enhancement of this behavior that still as status 'NEW'.
Issues with interpretation of content
- In Calc, AutoInput conflicts with recognition of URLs. See Issue 77373 and Issue 77374 .
- In Calc, AutoInput can conflict with number input if some text in another cell could have been interpreted as a number but it has been escaped with a leading '. See Issue 55652 .
Inconsistency between Calc and Writer
- Interaction design differs in Word Completion for Writer and AutoInput for Calc. See Issue 8453 for user complaining about it, and this message by Graham Perrin for further details about the differences.
- Options and their interface differs: in Writer, Word Completion is a tab in Tools > AutoCorrect… but in Calc it is an entry in Tools > Cell Content. For examples of users expecting the feature to have the same configuration interface in the two modules, see Issue 75413 , Issue 80191 , Issue 82106 , Issue 34418 and Issue 34417 . See Also Issue 52054 , a request for enhancement with status 'NEW'.
Inconsistency with auto-complete features from other products
- AutoInput does not use a menu. See Issue 76878 .
- In Excel, it seems that AutoInput suggestions for completion do not rely on the content of the cells in the same column, but on their value. At least, it takes into account references. See the request for enhancement in Issue 43108 .
- For AutoInput, only 2000 cells or 200 strings are analyzed for suggestions of completion. See Issue 89016 .