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Track changes

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This page aims to collect some information on the track changes feature of Writer. It also aims to collect some ideas on potential improvements in this area in Writer.

There is no development yet on improving this feature. Consider Voting for related issues.

Introduction

Track changes is a possibility for Writer users to keep track of the changes a user makes or other users have made to a document. All changes are recorded and are visualized in order to ease the review of a document. All those changes can be accepted or rejected by the user. Especially people, who use Writer in workgroups or who review documents of other users require and use this feature.

Writer's implementation of track changes is functional, but may need improvement in some areas, namely: Visualization of track changes, Printing of track changes, efficient detection of changes made to a document, and track changes in tables and frames.

Related issues and requirements

  • Vizualization and printing:
  • Track changes functionality
    • Compare Document does not compare only differences: Issue 54195 (26 votes).
    • Table, frame, header, footer, graphic structure (delete, insert) not changes tracked (redlining): Issue 76935 .
    • Undetected changes with change tracking: Issue 17922 .
    • Add "Hidden" as attribute for Changes tracking display: Issue 61570 .
    • Ability to limit tracking to textual content changes: Issue 58838 .
    • Display changed text by a different color: Setup for that does exist. Bug: changes are all written in black, ignoring the choosen color. This is related to accessibility settings - see here

Further ideas for improvements

  • Filters, such as: "Do not display any changes made earlier than my last review of the document" or "Do not display changes that are older than xx days" or "Do not display changes of person xy and person xz, because I trust them very much"
  • Versioning: Display and render a version of the file with a certain set of changes applied (by author, by date) but not the others. Allow saving the rendered copy.

Google Summer of Code 2009: Improve Writer's compare function

Competitive Analysis

MS Word 2003
Microsoft Word 2003 (word processor)

Word displays the changes made (deletions and format changes) in bubbles in the right margin of the page. The changes of different users are displayed in different colours. The user has the option to choose, whether he/she would like to see the changes of all other authors or only of a few of them. The pages can be printed as displayed on screen.

In Word 2007 there are almost no changes to the "track changes" feature with the exception of move tracking: Word displays moved sentences/paragraphs differently from deleted/pasted ones.

  • EIOffice: Track changes feature is nearly an exact copy of the Word 2003 functionality (no screenshot needed)
  • Apple Pages: Track changes feature similar like Microsoft Office. Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEXEwK31ywg
  • Buzzword (Adobe) www.buzzword.adobe.com:
Adobe Buzzword
Adobe Buzzword (word processor)

Buzzword is advertised as being able to instant collaborative editing. It uses some different concepts compared to other word processors. The document can be shared with other persons (classified either as co-author, reviewer or reader), who can be invited via email in order to work on the same document.

The standard view always displays the most recent version and changes are not marked. However, it is possible to access the So-called "History" which makes it possible to easily navigate on a time scale through all changes made by all authors. Insertions are underlined in the colour of the respective co-author. Deletions are displayed as "Interactive markers" that display the deleted text if the mouse cursor is over the interactive marker.

  • Abiword 2.6.8: track changes feature very similar to OpenOffice.org (deleted text is displayed struck through, inserted text is diplayed underlined)
  • Textmaker 2008: track changes feature very similar to OpenOffice.org (deleted text is displayed struck through, inserted text is diplayed underlined)
  • KWord (Change tracking will be available in version 2.2).
  • WordPerfect
  • GoogleDocs

Related OpenOffice extensions

  • Extension that compares two documents and vizualizes changes made between the document versions: DeltaXMLODTCompare Comparison includes tables. (2011-03-27)

Support for Track Changes in the OpenDocument (ODF) format

  • Currently, ODF supports track changes, but the specification is limited (e.g. lacking track changes in tables). For future versions of ODF, OASIS has formed an Advanced Document Collaboration Subcommittee in order to develop comprehensive support for change tracking.

Manuals on using Writer's existing track changes features

Press Coverage and blogs on track changes

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