Bullets, Table-Cell Colors, RTF and Some Workarounds

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Bullets, Table-Cell Colors, RTF and Some Workarounds

Post by laup » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:26 pm

As we all recognize, Mellel-Word compatability is limited even if one goes through .rtf. If one accepts imperfection, then the issue is how easy it is to spot glitches and fix them. This is measured mostly by time (minutes, tens of minutes, or hours). I recently prepared a 150-page complex document and tried various export/import experiments with Word, Pages, and LibreOffice.

After opening the .rtf file in Word 2011, I found that bullets (i.e., •) came through as open rectangles--some kind of glitch symbol. In Pages, they came through as squares with X's in them. This is a nasty problem because I don't know a way to do a simple find-and-replace on the Word side (I don't know how to specify the "character" for the Find). Thus, the problem could be measured by 10s of minutes and the risk of missing something.

Solution: Back in Mellel, using the List palette, replace the bullet symbol with something else. I used the black square. That moves over to Word without trouble.

Observation: This particular problem may be in Word 2011. The other programs (e.g., Nisus Pro, Pages, and LibreOffice) recognized the • properly from the .rtf file.


1. Front Matter/Main Text. Numbering. In my Mellel document, front matter is numbered i, ii, etc, and the main text 1, 2, ...There is a page-style break in between. The Word document recognizes a section break but does not start renumbering. I'm not sure that Word has the equivalent of a Mellel page-style change. However, I would think that in generating the .rtf, Mellel might assume--as a default--that when a page-style changes, renumbering should begin with the new numbers being 1,2... Somewhat trickier logic might specify that this renumbering NOT happen if a page-style change is associated with, say, portrait to landscape view. Anyway, this is a minutes-to-fix problem (given knowledge of Word), but perhaps there is a minor Mellel glitch.

2. Table-cell fills. I use colored fills for table cells when using tables to compare options, as with "scorecards." The colors do not make it to Word or to Pages or LibreOffice. Thus, I think that this is a bug on the Mellel side. It is possible, of course, that the table objects are so different in Word and Mellel that an easy fix is not possible. Unfortunately, fixing the colors on the Word side seems to mean manually coloring the tables in Word, which could take tens of minutes or hours and, worse, introduce errors.

3. Footnotes and Endnotes. In my Mellel document, footnotes are restarted each page and indicated by symbols such as *. Endnotes are numbered consecutively 1...n. In the Word document, the endnotes become i, ii, etc. and (if I remember properly) the footnotes are numbered consecutively 1, 2. rather than started afresh on each page. If this is fixable by Redlers, that would be great. Unfortunately, it may be due to a glitch on the Word side. I have encountered what appears to be the same problem when sharing Word 2011 with Windows' users of Word. As I recall, it had to do with the Normal Templates. This is a minutes-to-fix problem on the Word side.

4. Other. One oddity is that some of my figure headings moved in Word from before the figure to after it. Easy to fix.


I noticed in my experiments that
(1) Pages would open the Mellel-generated .rtf file, but dropped all the graphics--quite an annoying shortcoming. THe Pages manual makes no mention of such a limitation. Since Pages retains figures when opening a Word document, it appears that it is better at directly dealing with .doc or .docx than with .rtf, at least in this respect.
(2) When I opened the Mellel-generated .rtf file in LibreOffice, only the first 40 pages came through. Weird. I also opened the Word file created by opening the Mellel-generated .rtf file and saving to .docx. Again, the result was only a portion of the document (69 pages, about half of the total).
(3) I opened another complex Word document in LibreOffice and lots of things were fouled up. No figures, no start of renumbering after front matter, extra page numbers, etc. Others have apparently had much better luck with Word--LibreOffice back-and-forth, but to my eyes in these modes experiments, it was pretty bad.

I didn't do enough experimenting to draw firm conclusions. However, my sense is that compatibility problems remain serious and that no one should believe claims in ads. Superficial compatibility is one thing; compatibility for complex documents is another. It seems to me that--if and only one goes through rtf--Mellel-Word compatibility is as good as the other possibilities for complex documents. Others, like R.P. Cameron, have had better experiences with LibreOffice than I have in my brief tests. Maybe it's a matter of document type.

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