Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

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

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bluesdance
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Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by bluesdance » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:09 am

-In a table, arrows (i.e. "up" and "down") don't navigate between cells
-No support for importing MS Word comments
-No vertical page justification (i.e. putting major titles in the vertical middle of a page)
-Sometimes and randomly, keyboard shortcuts for italics (command-I) and bold (command-B) stop working, even though I can apply those formattings by using the mouse on the formatting panel

:|
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rpcameron
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by rpcameron » Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:48 am

bluesdance wrote:-In a table, arrows (i.e. "up" and "down") don't navigate between cells
True, however the standard form for moving through table cells (Tab and Shift+Tab) both work as expected. Also, in keeping with keeping the Tab shortcuts from moving from cell to cell, they also maintain all of their normal standard Cocoa text behaviors (except Emacs keybindings) that you expect, and don't quite work as expected in Word.
-No support for importing MS Word comments
No real surprise here, as Mellel does not support comments of any sort. Hopefully comments will be added with full marginalia support in a future release, but at the moment it's not a huge deal–breaker for me (perhaps I'm in the minority, but I'm not certain).
-No vertical page justification (i.e. putting major titles in the vertical middle of a page)
This is actually a little annoying, however managing sections, page styles, and Auto–Titles, this is easily workable, and quite a bit more manageable and semantic than Word's idea of style management.
-Sometimes and randomly, keyboard shortcuts for italics (command-I) and bold (command-B) stop working, even though I can apply those formattings by using the mouse on the formatting panel
Not to sound condescending, but the proper way to use bold and italic font alternants is to create a style variant, and switch using the built–in style mechanism; ad hoc styling with Cmd + [B,I] is not the preferred way of managing things in Mellel, and can cause you great annoyances in the future if you need to restyle your document. You'd be best served by spending a day reading up on Mellel's style system, and creating a Style Set or three to suit your needs. (Trust me, it is well worth the time to create a full Style Set to suit your needs, than to spend many wasted moments restyling your document every time you make a change.)

While I am not trying to be an apologist, these shortcomings are well noted and loathed. Specifically, comments and marginalia (such as note streams in the margins, perhaps even different column widths in sections, as well as vertical alignment/agreement/anchoring between paragraphs in columns, as well as line/paragraph numbering) are sorely needed. Yet, it is our belief that when one aspect of marginalia is added, most all of the others will follow, as they will most likely use the same underlying architectural changes needed to make it happen. Also, when such changes occur, it will be in a superior manner that will be in keeping with the rest of the program.

As I previously stated, creative use of Auto–Titles, page styles and section styles can approximate vertical justification for titles and sub-titles (as I've done for several papers), but it is not an exact science. However, an added bonus to this is that Mellel's style system is far more consistent than Word's could ever hope to be, and the structure through Mellel's Auto–Titles is also far easier to manage than Word's.

Your grumblings about table cell navigation is understandable, however I feel that its present state is quite acceptable. Also, other than supporting Emacs keybindings like a standard Cocoa NSTextEdit control, Mellel's table cells support all of the other standard keyboard navigation shortcuts, including Opt and/or Cmd + [Arrow], with or without the Shift modifier. This is merely a learning step/retraining you need to take when moving from Word.

Similarly, the use of the Cmd + [B,I] shortcuts for bold and/or italic faces are a habit you should break yourself of if you wish to be more productive in Mellel. Mellel has an amazing style system, but ad hoc changes such as those can cause confusing results. For example, if you have a paragraph with a few selected phrases that you placed in italics with the Cmd+I shortcut, but originally started your paragraph in a base style, this may cause problems. In the aforementioned situation, if you change any aspect of your character or paragraph style that included selected phrases in italics via Cmd+I, then all of those passages will change to whatever the format indicated in the new base style is. I recommend reading the Mellel Guide, as well as some of the very well put–together mini–guides to understand the way Mellel does things.

This is not meant to be a rude or condescending post. I apologize if that is how it has come across to you. However, Mellel does introduce a slightly different paradigm to word processing that is not followed by many (if any) other word processors on the market right now. While it does serve a niche market of sorts, it is quite capable and versatile; those who wish to invest a little bit of time learning Mellel's styles and inner workings will be well rewarded with greater productivity and beautiful documents.

(As an aside, earlier this week I spent nearly 30 minutes trying to help my mother how to change the default spacing after paragraphs for the normal document template in MS Word 2008 on her new iMac. It was easy to change for the current document, but rather convoluted to change for the default template used for new documents. Perhaps it is because I personally am used to Mellel, but she's been using Word on PCs since Word 6 on Windows 3.1 days, and she still couldn't find it easily, so I don't think it was just me. Mellel just represents a slightly more structured paradigm to your word processing workflow, but also helps you to stay a bit more organized, too, I believe.)

(Wow … who knew this brief response was going to turn into a tome …)
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by bluesdance » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:53 pm

1) In all your talking about keybindings and whatever else, I couldn't find any information about what I'm actually trying to do, which is: use the keyboard to move down from the cell I'm editing to the cell directly below it. This is not rocket science.

2) I use Mellel because of the rad Hebrew support, not because I want to futz with adding styles every time I need to italicize something. If Command-B and Command-I work sometimes, and don't work other times, that's just a bug.

(I haven't yet found a time that Command-U doesn't work, and so my documents have a lot more underlining than they used to.)

Thanks for the tips, though. I'll definitely try to read some of that stuff you suggested. Is it all on the Mellel web site?

Just FYI, I'm coming to Mellel from Pages, not Word.

-y.
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by rpcameron » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:45 pm

bluesdance wrote:1) In all your talking about keybindings and whatever else, I couldn't find any information about what I'm actually trying to do, which is: use the keyboard to move down from the cell I'm editing to the cell directly below it. This is not rocket science.
If you want to go from one cell to the one directly above or below it, that is only possible if your table has only one column. Otherwise keyboard navigation is limited in a left-to-right-top-to-bottom (or the opposite of a right-to-left-bottom-to-top) sequence.
2) I use Mellel because of the rad Hebrew support, not because I want to futz with adding styles every time I need to italicize something. If Command-B and Command-I work sometimes, and don't work other times, that's just a bug.

(I haven't yet found a time that Command-U doesn't work, and so my documents have a lot more underlining than they used to.)
Are there specific situations that precede when Cmd+[B,I] does not seem to work as expected? Also, here are some other threads that deal with Cmd+[B,I] and associated formatting issues: There also were some discussions about the Cmd+[B,I] topic on the old forum, but those posts have been lost. If there are certain situations where you notice this occurring regularly, then I believe you really ought to send an email to the Redlers to let them know about a newly discovered bug.
Thanks for the tips, though. I'll definitely try to read some of that stuff you suggested. Is it all on the Mellel web site?
Yes, you can find support documents and tutorials on the Redlers’ website here: Tips, Guides and Tutorials. Also, here are two specifics that are highly recommended documents (direct links): I hope those help you out in your search for answers, and perhaps answers a few questions you didn't know you had, either.
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by Mart°n » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:29 pm

bluesdance wrote:1) In all your talking about keybindings and whatever else, I couldn't find any information about what I'm actually trying to do, which is: use the keyboard to move down from the cell I'm editing to the cell directly below it.
As rpcameron already mentioned, this isn’t possible in Mellel at the moment but is a often requested feature. Maybe one day the Redlers will implement this one.
bluesdance wrote: 2) I use Mellel because of the rad Hebrew support, not because I want to futz with adding styles every time I need to italicize something. If Command-B and Command-I work sometimes, and don't work other times, that's just a bug.
If you don’t work with a myriad of different fonts, setting up some styles will take some minutes which will probably help you creating more straight documents and also prevent you from loosing styles if you change the font of your whole document (as rpcameron mentioned above). So if you work a lot in Mellel i really could recommend this.
bluesdance wrote: (I haven't yet found a time that Command-U doesn't work, and so my documents have a lot more underlining than they used to.)
I have never seen CMD+b or CMD+i to fail but from your description I think you haven't found a bug. If you hit CMD+i or CMC+b Mellel simply change the chosen font from the regular face to the italic or bold face. However, some fonts don’t have an italic or bold face (for example Skia or Zapfino) so there’s simply no face Mellel could switch to. If you chose a font in the “Main Font” palette, you could check the available faces via the “Face” dropdown menu. If there is only one face for a chosen font, those CMD+i and CMD+b shortcuts don’t work. This is also true for Pages except for the font Courier which Pages handles differntly than Mellel (Mellel could not access the faked italic faces but Pages can).

So maybe a limited font was chosen when you’ve tried to hit those shortcuts. If not, you still could report the bug to the Redlers.

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by bluesdance » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:18 pm

I think maybe I was using Courier. But as I said above, the behavoir was that I could click on the options to change to italics, yet command-I wasn't working.
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by Mart°n » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:18 pm

bluesdance wrote:I think maybe I was using Courier. But as I said above, the behavoir was that I could click on the options to change to italics, yet command-I wasn't working.
Sounds strange but given it was courier and assumed you haven't installed a different version than the one delivered with OS X, it is a known behavior that CMD+I didn’t work in Mellel (on the other hand, the dropdown-menu in the Main-Font palette shouldn’t work too).
The reason of this are the missing font-faces for Courier-Italic and Courier-Bold-Italic which means that Courier normally doesn’t have an italic font-face. Because of some strange reasons (maybe compatibility reasons) Apple implemented the otherwise abandoned fake italic code to provide a slanted version of the regular courier font to some applications. So there’s still no italic font file available but Mac OS makes some applications think that it is and created a calculated italic version in the background (like OS 9 apps and some OS X apps still do today). Because Mellel accesses fonts slightly different than other OS X word processors, you could see some courier-entries in Mellel’s “Face” dropdown but actually they shouldn’t generate the desired result (maybe on Leopard, i haven‘t tested this).
Long story short, if the CMD+I bug only was visible while using Courier, it probably isn’t a bug but has to do with the missing real italic font-face.

A workaround of this courier problem could be found in this topic:
http://forum.redlers.com/viewtopic.php? ... it=courier

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by Danoz » Tue May 06, 2008 12:57 am

I'm not sure if there would be a problem in doing what I am about to suggest, so I defer to anyone who is *in the know*.
But, would it not be possible for Mellel to remap the Cmd-i and Cmd-b key commands to the appropriate style variations? Could this be setup by default in some way? I guess each font face could have a differently named italic and bold face, but surely Mellel could make a best guess, which can be changed by the user at a later time.

While I acknowledge the importance in what those above have said (in terms of having to work in a Mellel way), I believe that it is unrealistic to assume that people will be able to unlearn years of history of using text editors that to apply italics, one *always* selects Cmd-i (or Ctrl-i if coming from Windoze). Indeed, one of the underlying (or is it, over-arching) principles of using a mac is the consistency that one can rely upon that exists between all aspects of the system and apps. Therefore, allowing people's learned (and now relied upon) behaviours to match and seamlessly integrate with Mellel's idiosyncratic behaviour would seem to be the best of both worlds.

Perhaps when one presses Cmd-i or Cmd-b for the first time, a tip window could come up (which could be switched off from displaying in the future) which could explain what is happening and (briefly) introduces the user to Mellel's style variations feature and asks the user if they would like to customise the default variants and Cmd-i/b behaviours.

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by rpcameron » Tue May 06, 2008 6:06 am

Danoz wrote:I'm not sure if there would be a problem in doing what I am about to suggest, so I defer to anyone who is *in the know*.
But, would it not be possible for Mellel to remap the Cmd-i and Cmd-b key commands to the appropriate style variations? Could this be setup by default in some way? I guess each font face could have a differently named italic and bold face, but surely Mellel could make a best guess, which can be changed by the user at a later time.

While I acknowledge the importance in what those above have said (in terms of having to work in a Mellel way), I believe that it is unrealistic to assume that people will be able to unlearn years of history of using text editors that to apply italics, one *always* selects Cmd-i (or Ctrl-i if coming from Windoze). Indeed, one of the underlying (or is it, over-arching) principles of using a mac is the consistency that one can rely upon that exists between all aspects of the system and apps. Therefore, allowing people's learned (and now relied upon) behaviours to match and seamlessly integrate with Mellel's idiosyncratic behaviour would seem to be the best of both worlds.

Perhaps when one presses Cmd-i or Cmd-b for the first time, a tip window could come up (which could be switched off from displaying in the future) which could explain what is happening and (briefly) introduces the user to Mellel's style variations feature and asks the user if they would like to customise the default variants and Cmd-i/b behaviours.
This has already been discussed in the thread I already mentioned above titled “cmd-I and B for italics and bold”. The problem is that in other editors, the Cmd+[B,I] shortcuts are toggles that switch between a state of bold and not-bold, or italic and not-italic. Mellel handles those differently if you are using styles.

If you use styles (and variations), a set of style attributes are simply applied to whatever text is selected, overriding all of the previous attributes. In the situation of Cmd+[B,I], you are asking the system to toggle the state of a particular attribute. Cmd+[B,I] will work as you desire, until you invoke a style over text that has been modified with those commands. If you want to continue working in that way, Mellel will allow you do so, and it will continue to work as you have expected it.

However, with Mellel it's one or the other, but not both. What I mean is that if you wish to use only ad hoc styling for your document, you may do so. Use the palettes to modify the aspects of your document as you normally would, and use Cmd+[B,I] just as you're used to. Or, you may set up a set of styles and use those to style your documents. But, do not intermix the two methods, because that is where confusion will set in. Most people coming from Windows have most likely (at least in my experience) never really used styles (especially those coming from Word), so continue to use Mellel just as you are used to doing in Word. But if you start to use the styles (such as those in the Character or Paragraph menus), then you'd be better off using only styles to control the appearance of your document, and forego using Cmd+[B,I]. Mellel does not require that you stop using what you have learned, but if you want to get the most out of it, you will have to learn a new paradigm.

In my previous post I provided links to a few other threads in the forum, as well as some tutorials and guides for Mellel. I highly recommend you check those out to get a better grasp on the situation and how Cmd+[B,I] interacts with the program.
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by nicka » Tue May 06, 2008 9:54 am

But, would it not be possible for Mellel to remap the Cmd-i and Cmd-b key commands to the appropriate style variations? Could this be setup by default in some way?
Yes and yes. I'm in favour of this, even though, as rpcameron points out, the behaviour would be a bit different from other text apps, since the Mellel style variations don't toggle in the way that Command-b and -i typically do. But I'd happily live with that, because I'd always notice when it didn't work, unlike at present (see below).

I doubt it's going to happen though. This idea has been around on various Mellel forums for several years. I think those of us who think this would be a good idea have to work out whether Mellel's other strengths make up for this annoyance. My answer is unequivocally yes. But it does stop me from recommending Mellel to people who I think wouldn't get the hang of having the usual shortcuts available, but not using them. (Parents, non-computer expert colleagues, etc.)

Barring remapping of the Command -b and -i shortcuts, I'd like a preference to switch them off, so that I can't use them by mistake. (It usually happens without my noticing that I'm doing it, and down the line there's a risk of losing the formatting when I apply a style. Gah!)

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by donb » Sat May 17, 2008 9:04 am

There is a simple way to solve this problem of command-b and command-i:
Get hold of the shareware program called iKey. It is a macro making program, with an excellent instruction book that downloads when you download the program.
With iKey, simply tell it that whenever you use command-i in Mellel, it should press the F3 key for you. And whenever you use command-b in Mellel, it should press the F4 key for you.
It works instantaneously, and you never again have to worry about whether your italics have been made with command-i or with F3, etc.

By the way, the F1 key is by default programmed in Mellel to take you back to ordinary (non italicized, non-bolded, etc.) typing style.

There are other ways of achieving the same result by using OS X's own inbuilt resources, but they are too intricate to detail for something so simple. You will find that iKey can also let you set keyboard shortcuts for anything at all you want to do (OK, that's an exaggeration, but not much of one). I would find it very difficult to live without it.

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by suavito » Sat May 17, 2008 11:08 pm

But still even with iKey you couldn't use cmd+i toggling italics, could you?

Or is it possible to define boolean variables for any state of font?

For example: Let's say, F2 ist the font variant bold, F3 is the font variant italic, and F5 is the font variant bold italic. You hit cmd+i, an iKey routine like this starts:

IF status_italic = true THEN
__IF status_bold = true THEN
____hit F2
__ELSE
____hit F1
__status_italic = false
ELSE
__IF status_bold = true THEN
____hit F5
__ELSE
____hit F3
__status_italic = true

And this goes only for the combination of bold and italic. It gets more complex with underlined and others.
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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by Mart°n » Sat May 17, 2008 11:44 pm

I don’t know iKey but I think it doesn't work. Maybe you could script iKey this way [maybe if it stores the last used action – if it was cmd+b and you press cmd+b again, it should select f1 – e.g. switch to regular] but it still is an error prone thing as iKey isn’t likely to be able to see the font face you’ve selected [means that the last action doesn’t work if you select another word with you mouse that uses a different font face]. Furthermore this script will fail in numerous cases (if you have changed the color of a sentence to red via ad-hoc formatting an like to italicize a single word, that word will appear in black as you haven’t defined a style for bold/red.

I think one is still faster in adopting the new F-Key way of selecting styles instead of setting up odd workarounds but mileages may vary.

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by signinstranger » Sun May 18, 2008 9:41 pm

I still don't understand the problem. Isn't it enough to search for "anything bold" and replace it with the bold character variation?

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Re: Extremely annoying bugs/shortcomings

Post by nicka » Sun May 18, 2008 10:03 pm

At what stage? What if you use Command-b accidentally, then apply character formatting without noticing that bold text is lost, then save (still without noticing), it's too late.

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