Local character formatting preserved on style/var. change

Feature requests, and in-depth discussions of features and the way Mellel works

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Shall local formatting be preserved when applying style/variation changes?

Yes, please, oh please! I will be your slave, if you do it!
13
57%
No. I like manual reformatting all the time. It makes me rework my text more and more.
10
43%
 
Total votes: 23

ptram
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Local character formatting preserved on style/var. change

Post by ptram » Mon Apr 02, 2007 5:23 pm

Hi,

As much as I love Mellel, there are times when I would like to have it in front of me, and hit it with a whip.

Think, for example, when you have applied small caps to a series of acronyms in a long passage.

Then, you decide that that passage must be put in italics, since it is a quote from a review.

This is the point when you press, say, F3 -- and suddenly all your small caps are gone.

Funny, hu?

Paolo

donb
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Post by donb » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:14 am

>This is the point when you press, say, F3 -- and suddenly all your small caps are gone.
Funny, hu?

Not really. The pre-set of Mellel's F-key styles is so as to apply only one style, so one F-key setting cancels out the other; they are not set to be additive. I.e. F2 followed by F3 does not give you bold italics, only italics since that is how F3 has been pre-programmed.

You can, however, reprogram the F keys and their styles. So, for example, you can make F5 italic+small caps, if you so wish: In the Character Menu, choose Edit Normal, and assign both characteristics to the F5 key.

Of course, you can reassign any or all eight of the F keys used for styles, to set whatever styles or fonts etc. you like. You are not forced to stay with the pre-set assignments that Mellel has when you first install the program.

Don Broadribb

ptram
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Post by ptram » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:10 am

Don,

Thank you for clarifying. I know assigning an Italic+Small Caps Variation to another F-key would have worked, but the weakness of this method is that, in any case, you must reassign all formatting manually.

Goal: assigning the Italics face to a whole paragraph, while preserving Small Caps in some words.
1st method: assign Italics to a paragraph by pressing an F-key, then apply Small Caps again to various words by using the Character Format Palette.
2nd method: assign Italics to a paragraph by pressing an F-key, then apply Small Caps again to various words by using another F-key, corresponding to Italics+Small Caps.

As you see, the result is the same: you must reapply the character face word by word. A long, time consuming process, very prone to errors.

What I would like to see is this: local formatting is preserved when applying a higher-level style. Then, a "Reset formatting" command will allow you to remove any local formatting on selected text, whn you do want so.

The style hierarchy would be preserved:

(a) Page Style > (b) Section Style > (c) Paragraph Style > (d) Character Style > (e) Variation > (f) Local Changes by Palette.

Change (c), and both (d) and (e) will change for all the text in the paragraph, EXCEPT for (f)-marked areas.
Do you want a complete reset of formatting? Select an area of text, the paragraph or the whole document, and choose the "Reset formatting" command. (f) will be removed.

The advantage of this method is that the most common practice (applying local formatting to small pieces of text) is the default behavior. If you want the less common practice of resetting everything, do this by a dedicated command.

Best regards,
Paolo
Last edited by ptram on Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

TLS
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Post by TLS » Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:46 am

donb wrote:You can, however, reprogram the F keys and their styles. So, for example, you can make F5 italic+small caps, if you so wish: In the Character Menu, choose Edit Normal, and assign both characteristics to the F5 key.

Of course, you can reassign any or all eight of the F keys used for styles, to set whatever styles or fonts etc. you like.
But that is the problem isn't it? There are only eight possible slots that can be assigned. For example:
  • regular
    regular italic
    regular semibold
    regular semibold italic
    regular bold
    regular bold italic
That is 6 right there. Then I may want
  • regular small caps
    regular small caps italic
Oops! no more! Can't have semibold italic small caps or bold small caps.

It also cuts out any chance to have a style for just Greek, one for Hebrew, one for Syriac, one for Coptic, and one for Arabic. Yes you can use the secondary font, but sometimes I want them as the primary fonts, and it is only possible to have one secondary font.

IMO, this is a major—and seemingly unnecessary—limitation in Mellel. Maybe you can't apply an Fkey to all of them, but so what? There are always the pallets and/or menus. It would be much more handy to have unlimited character styles and also unlimited "secondary" fonts.

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Post by nvalvo » Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:45 am

Umm, keep text styling the way it is, please. It is the best thing about this word processor.

Mart°n
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Post by Mart°n » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:03 pm

TLS wrote: But that is the problem isn't it? There are only eight possible slots that can be assigned. For example:
  • regular
    regular italic
    regular semibold
    regular semibold italic
    regular bold
    regular bold italic
That is 6 right there. Then I may want
  • regular small caps
    regular small caps italic
Oops! no more! Can't have semibold italic small caps or bold small caps.

It also cuts out any chance to have a style for just Greek, one for Hebrew, one for Syriac, one for Coptic, and one for Arabic. Yes you can use the secondary font, but sometimes I want them as the primary fonts, and it is only possible to have one secondary font.

IMO, this is a major—and seemingly unnecessary—limitation in Mellel. Maybe you can't apply an Fkey to all of them, but so what? There are always the pallets and/or menus. It would be much more handy to have unlimited character styles and also unlimited "secondary" fonts.
The same thing have been discussed before and I think it’s simply a way of how you use Mellel. There are only 8 variations, that’s right, but there are also 8 character styles (each containing 8 variations) and there are also 8 paragraph styles (on which you could assign 8 different character styles). Leaving away the paragraph thing, you could easily access 64 different fonts/font-faces/sizes/colors with your keys (8 character styles accessible with Command+Number - multiplied with 8 character variations, accessible with the F-keys)
You could now easily create a character style for Greek, Hebrew and English parts of your document. You could create different character styles for different contents of your document (one for regular text, one for citations, one for thoughts one for comments one for text in tables one for headlines one for direct speech, one for indirect speech and so on. And for each character style, you have 8 variations accessible. I think a document that uses 64 different styles will look totally bloated, but you could do this right now, so I wouldn’t exactly speak of a “limitation” of Mellel.
Nobody forces you to press all your needed style variations into one single character style.
To avoid confusion among different variations put into different character styles, I suggest a more abstract naming scheme of your variations. One could name them like this:

1 - regular
2 - bold
3 - italic
4 - bold italic
5 - small caps regular
6 - small caps bold
7 - small caps italic
8 - small caps bold italic

Such a naming scheme forces you to use the same font settings among all character styles which leads to a self created limitation. If you use some metaphoric or abstract names for your variations, you won‘t see this limit:

1 - regular
2 - silent highlight (could be italic or small caps italic or a grey color)
3 - strong highlight (could be bold or small caps bold or a blue color)
4 - extra strong highlight (could be bold-italic or extra bold or a red color)
… to be continued

Which such a naming scheme, you could not only work without the limits but you could also easily find the real style according to the result you like to achieve. One example. You write a text where you have to write your own statements but also have to cite some other person. In this case, you could create two character styles:

STYLE 1 - My words
1. Garamond - regular
2. Garamond - italic
3. Garamond - bold
4. Garamond - bold italic
5. Garamond - light
6. Garamond - light italic

STYLE 2 - Foreign words
1. Garamond - SmallCaps regular
2. Garamond - SmallCaps italic
3. Garamond - SmallCaps bold
4. Garamond - SmallCaps bold italic
5. Garamond - SmallCaps light
6. Garamond - SmallCaps light italic

With those two styles (which could be easily changed by pressing Command+1 and Command+2) you have 6 styles to express the different meanings of your words and 6 more to do the same for all cited text. If you need to find, highlight, change the font/color/size) of your or the other words, it is much more comfortable to change or search for the appropriate character style then IMHO.

The feature request - on the other side - will lead to cluttered documents as you could not be sure that all the changes you’ve made to a used style will be reflected in your text. You always have to check with a find action or the “replace styles” dialog, if there’s no ad hoc style left in your document. It will destroy the strength of Mellel, to create perfectly styled documents without having to worry about their perfect look.

The styles thing, the way how to use it and the time to set up some nice sets are no easy tasks if you are new to Mellel. I’ve also used Mellel over one year with ad hoc styling only because I thought I didn’t have the time to dive into that experience. However, if you’re used to it, you probably wouldn’t go back and in the end it saves a lot of time.

ptram
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Post by ptram » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:49 pm

The problem is that you still have access to the classic Cmd-I, Cmd-U, and Cmd-B shortcuts (or palette equivalents). If you use them, and then change paragraph style, your formatting is lost. This is very dangerous, since will force you to carefully reformat everything word by word.

What about if there were some fixed character styles, linked to the classic character face shortcuts? While F-keys still select User defined character styles, standard shortcut select Fixed character styles, i.e.:

Base --> Cmd-Space (or F1)
Italic (Base + Italic) --> Cmd-I
Bold (Base + Bold) --> Cmd-B
Bold Italic (Base + Bold + Italic) --> Cmd-I + Cmd-B (or vice versa)
Underline (Base + Underline) --> Cmd-U
Link (Base + Underline + Blue) --> Cmd-K?
Small Caps (Base + Small Caps) --> Cmd-(no idea)

This way you would never apply 'volatile' character formatting, but true character styles.

Paolo
Last edited by ptram on Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by nicka » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:54 am

Nice idea Paolo. Extra styles for sub- and super-script would be useful too.

If Mellel had that system and text pasted in from the clipboard was converted automatically, then Mellel's superior styles could co-exist with apparent seamless use of standard shortcuts and text from other applications. I think this would really improve usability for new users.

ptram
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Post by ptram » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:55 pm

nicka wrote:Nice idea Paolo. Extra styles for sub- and super-script would be useful too.
You are right. And since we are here, I would also add strikethrough.

Paolo

Mart°n
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Post by Mart°n » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:23 pm

ptram wrote:The problem is that you still have access to the classic Cmd-I, Cmd-U, and Cmd-B shortcuts (or palette equivalents). If you use them, and then change paragraph style, your formatting is lost. This is very dangerous, since will force you to carefully reformat everything word by word.
That could be indeed a problem but the question is, why would anyone format his document with ad-hoc styles (Cmd-B, Cmd-I) and then switch a paragraph or character style? If you’ve set up your styles, you probably want to use them, if you haven’t set up them, you probably don’t want to switch them.
ptram wrote: What about if there were some fixed character styles, linked to the classic character face shortcuts? While F-keys still select User defined character styles, standard shortcut select Fixed character styles, i.e.:

Base --> Cmd-Space (or F1)
Italic (Base + Italic) --> Cmd-I
Bold (Base + Bold) --> Cmd-B
Bold Italic (Base + Bold + Italic) --> Cmd-I + Cmd-B (or vice versa)
Underline (Base + Underline) --> Cmd-U
Link (Base + Underline + Blue) --> Cmd-K?
Small Caps (Base + Small Caps) --> Cmd-(no idea)

This way you would never apply 'volatile' character formatting, but true character styles.
But those “true” character styles aren’t character styles but variations of a single style (as explained above). If you like to switch a character style now, you have to set up your second style the same way (F1 equals regular, F2 equals bold…) or you won’t be happy with the results.
I also wonder, why you won’t hesitate to learn those all new shortcuts (Cmd-K, Cmd-Space…) but don’t like to use the already existing F1, F2, F3 ones to apply styles. By the way, Cmd-Space is used to switch input methods in OS X 10.3 or to open the Spotlight input field in OS 10.4. Is Cmd-K easier to remember than F6?

The whole “map Cmd+Letter to the F-keys” was already discussed here: ... and if you read through the posts, you may understand that this is not a trivial thing at all, as such a setup won’t “toggle” the styles as you may used to. For example, you have some regular text and press Cmd-B, your text will be displayed in bold, if you press Cmd-B again, your text changes back to a regular face. If you do the same with your Cmd-F-keys mapping, the first time you press Cmd-B, your text turns into bold, the second time, it stays bold as you’ve applied the bold style (F2) to it. To switch back to regular, you have to press the regular Cmd-Key combination.
So you not only have to learn new shortcuts (regular, small caps…) but also have to learn the new behavior. If you finally like to change not only the font face from regular to bold but also the font size from 12 to 10.5 point, you have to dig into the “magic” default style and change the size here. In the end, you have to learn:

• new shortcuts
• a new behavior (toggling doesn’t work anymore)
• how to modify character styles and variations

and this is already the complete set you have to learn to use the style system as it exists today. I don’t think that it would be easier for new users if you modify Mellel this way. Your mileage may vary.

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Post by Mart°n » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:38 pm

nicka wrote:Nice idea Paolo. Extra styles for sub- and super-script would be useful too.
ptram wrote: You are right. And since we are here, I would also add strikethrough.
Paolo
Great, please add shortcuts for grey and red text, serif and sans serif fonts, larger and smaller font sizes, overline, dotted outline, shadowed text, one for all caps, one with ligatures turned on, one with OpenType old style figures and – the most important one – one with a blue background color.

What I like to say, is that everyone have different needs and you probably couldn’t squeeze every need into one pre-defined character style or variation. That’s exactly why the current style system was created so you could set up the styles to your individual needs and access the different setups with a single (F) key.

Don‘t get me wrong, I’m not against a solution that helps to transfer ad-hoc styling into real styles/variations (even if I don’t need it personally) but the solution should be a working one, and the current ideas don’t look like they are of that type (or I’ve missed some important detail).
nicka wrote: If Mellel had that system and text pasted in from the clipboard was converted automatically, then Mellel's superior styles could co-exist with apparent seamless use of standard shortcuts and text from other applications. I think this would really improve usability for new users.
Good idea in general but the problem remains of how this should be done. If you copy some text from W*rd or Safari that is formatted with:

Headlines: Georgia, 16pt, regular, green
Copy text: Tahoma, 11pt, regular, bold, italics, black
Notes: Georgia, 8pt, regular, dark-grey

how should that be transformed into your existing all Arial, 12pt, black, different faces (bold, italics, underline, strikethrough…) style-set? Would you only like the faces to be transformed (bold into bold, italic into italic) and the (sometimes more important) font, color, size information to be dropped? Or should a complete new style be generated with the separate formattings pushed into different variations? How much time will you need then to clean up your final document, if you have to squeeze 30 totally different styles into a single one because you’ve copied different snippets of text from 30 different web-pages?

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Post by cyberbryce » Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:40 am

Mart°n wrote:how should that be transformed into your existing all Arial, 12pt, black, different faces (bold, italics, underline, strikethrough…) style-set? Would you only like the faces to be transformed (bold into bold, italic into italic) and the (sometimes more important) font, color, size information to be dropped? Or should a complete new style be generated with the separate formattings pushed into different variations? How much time will you need then to clean up your final document, if you have to squeeze 30 totally different styles into a single one because you’ve copied different snippets of text from 30 different web-pages?
At the moment every possible combination of pasted-in styled text does generate a new style, correct? So, assembling a document from other sources requires exactly the manual cleanup process you describe.
nicka wrote:If Mellel had that system and text pasted in from the clipboard was converted automatically, then Mellel's superior styles could co-exist with apparent seamless use of standard shortcuts and text from other applications. I think this would really improve usability for new users.
I agree, something like this would be very helpful to me. What if it didn't have to have perfect fidelity to the original styling, for example if it matched pasted text to the closest existing style and variation? The command could be something like "Paste matching styles..." and this could be an option also in replace styles and when importing RTF.

Wow, that'd be great...

Bryce
Last edited by cyberbryce on Fri Apr 20, 2007 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Bill
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Post by Bill » Fri Apr 20, 2007 6:02 am

Mart°n wrote:
Great, please add shortcuts for grey and red text, serif and sans serif fonts, larger and smaller font sizes, overline, dotted outline, shadowed text, one for all caps, one with ligatures turned on, one with OpenType old style figures and – the most important one – one with a blue background color.
Actually, this is an excellent suggestion!

Here is where I'm coming from:

The whole point of styles (as I understand them) is to easily produce consistent looking documents. Paragraph styles rightfully address paragraph characteristics, but the next level down is the sentence - not individual characters, and this is where the bulk of the issues/problems arise with respect to style variations.

The current character style is a mixture of some stuff that generally pertains to entire sentences, and other stuff that generally pertains to words or characters within a sentence. For example, font, font size, and direction are attributes that should generally be consistent throughout the sentence structure, while superscripts, subscripts, strikethroughs, and faces are generally meant for just a few words or characters.

It's just fine to have a sentence style associated with a paragraph style, and to have consistent looking sentences if the sentence style is changed from one type to another.

However, it's not so fine for a change in paragraph or sentence style to have an impact on any specific variations made to characters within a sentence.

If there were sentence styles in Mellel's menu, then we could make a word red or gray or have superscripts, subscripts, or whatever, and have the ability to change the sentence style without wiping out individual character or word variations.
Bill

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Post by donb » Fri Apr 20, 2007 8:10 am

It looks to me like different people want different things, which is not at all surprising.

I'd point out two things, though:

(1) If you make a new paragraph style which is not linked to any character style, you can with impunity change to that paragraph style and still preserve the character formatting intact, regardless of whether you made your italicswith F3 or command-I, etc.

(2) If you invest in a macro program, such as iKey which is both cheap, powerful, and extremely reliable, you can set up pretty well any sort of format you want that Mellel does not at present cater for.

These two points may not take care of everything people have expressed a wish or need for in this topic, but they would I suspect solve most of the problems.

Don Broadribb

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Post by ptram » Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:26 am

Mart°n wrote:why would anyone format his document with ad-hoc styles (Cmd-B, Cmd-I) and then switch a paragraph or character style?
For example, you might want to change from a paragraph style called, say, "Normal" to one called "Indented", because the paragraph's role in the work has changed.
Or (very common for me) you have imported a text from another wordprocessor, and you have your styled text marked as "Par. Style 1" (document style). When you apply Mellel's global paragraph styles, all original formatting is gone.
But those “true” character styles aren’t character styles but variations of a single style (as explained above).
That's correct. I should have written "variations" instead of "character styles". I was describing "hidden/fixed" variations to any character style.
I also wonder, why you won’t hesitate to learn those all new shortcuts (Cmd-K, Cmd-Space…) but don’t like to use the already existing F1, F2, F3 ones to apply styles.
This has nothing to do with learning new shortcuts: it is how we can preserve classic, existing standard shortcuts, you have used in all other wordprocessors in the Mac. It is a sad truth that imported text used those shortcuts and that way of formatting text. I would like they are not defeated by using Mellel's custom shortcuts.

- I use Mellel's F-key shortcuts for formating any text created in Mellel
- At the same time, I want to preserve older formatting (made with Cmd-[n] shortcuts) already existing in older text.

Paolo

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