Writer/views

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What users call a "View" in Writer is what the developers call a "Layout" - the orientation and position of the text and non-text content on an output device.

Writer currently has the "Print Layout", the "Online Layout" and the "Print Preview Layout". The latter isn't editable and so is left out of the following considerations. The "Print Layout" is a layout that implements "WYSIWYG" and tries to come close to what the user gets when the document is printed. But this layout is not optimized for all use cases where other layouts are better.

Motivation for "Online" Layout:

  • for documents that are not written for printing but for presentation
  • not good for editing (long lines), final preview

Some new layouts are requested with the following motivations:

"Outline" Layout(comparable to Word's "Outline View"):

  • “brainstorming” the structure of a document to create initial hierarchy
  • easy tool for developing and changing document structure
  • prioritize, arrange and rearrange ideas into a hierarchy; add details later
  • focus on content, no layout should distract from content; toggling the styles should be possible
  • choose level of details visible in any part of the document; showing any level of heading would also show the higher levels

"Draft" Layout (comparable to Word's "Normal View"):

  • avoid eating up space by margins and page breaks; “text editor” editing style
  • focus on content, no layout should distract from content
  • page breaks should still be visible, but in a less disturbing way; a dotted line across the page is traditional
  • sophisticated formatting is not seen as part of document (content) creation
  • page and column layout are artificial and have no content related meaning; flowing columns revert to single column.
  • columns are good for reading on paper, but a pain for reading on screen
  • headers and footers don't need to be visble while editing and proof reading
  • easy and fast text scrolling for better proof reading
  • no horizontal scrolling necessary even with big fonts on small screens or windows; text wraps "to margins" or "to screen"

There are some common motivations but also some differences. It seems that they also have some technical similarities. This is discussed here.

There is a particular problem in Writer that needs to be solved before it makes sense to implement more views. A Writer documents always has one layout. If the user switches from "Print Layout" to "Online Layout" the old layout is thrown away and the new layout for the complete document is calculated. On switching back the same happens again. This can become quite annoying when new layouts are used that let switching between layouts happen more often. Perhaps it might also be attractive to have two different layouts visible at a time in two different windows, e.g. Outline Layout and Print Layout.

The Draft Layout also needs information about the position of the page breaks in the document. So at least this has to be saved from the Print Layout but from the above it seems to be a better idea to preserve the Print Layout completely and retrieve the page breaks from it.

So we should investigate first if we can change the code in a way that it can handle more than one Layout at a time. This will make the implementation of new layouts better and their usage more attractive.

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