Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

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harryhoffner
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Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by harryhoffner » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:36 pm

I often need to establish a hyperlink inside a document to either an Internet web site/page or to another document on my hard drive. This can be done in MS Word, but not in Mellel. The hyperlink to the Internet page can also be done in Nisus. I would love to have this capability in Mellel.

Thanks.

Nick Sloan
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by Nick Sloan » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:27 pm

I second this. It is a feature I have been hoping to see in Mellel for a very long time.

rpcameron
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by rpcameron » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:56 am

I suppose it depends on how you wish it to be expressed. But, how should links be handled? Should a certain stream of text be able to be selected to a link? If so, what determines the link? Protocol? Address? Extra parameters?

Word does this because it tries to do everything. Nisus does this because TextEdit does this because Word promotes this, and therefore RTF does, too. But if you want links to files, how are those to be addressed? If you do it by standards and protocols, then it needs links to the file:// protocol. But if you do that, what are the links in relation to? The file? The root filesystem? Relative to the original file? What do you use to determine the root?

As long as it is not the standard response of the program to create a link upon seeing a string with "://", then this can be acceptable. However, perhaps a true "stream" element (somewhere between character and paragraph) will help further this desire for hyperlinks?
— Robert Cameron

harryhoffner
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by harryhoffner » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:58 pm

I'm not sure if the "you" in the question refers to me, or if it just means "one". I certainly do not need to concern myself with how the Redlers handle these complicated issues. As an end user I am concerned only with the availability of a desired feature and its proper functioning. I have no vested interest in either praising or bad-mouthing Word, Nisus, or any other competing program. I know that in those programs their feature works, because I have used them satisfactorily. If the Redlers wish to use a different method to accomplish the desired end, that's fine with me. I just want this feature as soon as they are able to implement it. I am glad to see that at least one other user has seconded the motion.

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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by kjmatthews » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:57 pm

@harryhoffner, I think you've misunderstood rpcameron's point. As a user who is "concerned only with the availability of a desired feature and its proper functioning," it is most assuredly in your best interest to weigh in as specifically as possible regarding what that desired feature and its proper functioning entail.

I also concur with rpcameron that I have no wish to see Mellel automagically recognize and mark up things that look like links by default. If this feature were implemented, I would prefer that the user be required to intervene to make text look and act like a link, rather than requiring user intervention to revert it back to simple text.

rpcameron
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by rpcameron » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:23 pm

I apologize if my previous post was a bit misleading or obtuse. Yes, the "you" referenced is "the user", not any particular individual. And although you may not care how it works, the way in which it is implemented will affect workflows. Perhaps a couple of examples might help:

1. Relative v. Absolute File Paths (and how they're resolved). When you link to a file, how Mellel references those files may change your workflow if you use the feature. Relative paths would mean "images/example1.png" and "notes/example2.mellel" are referenced in your main document. They are looking for a file called "example1.png" in a directory called "images", and that directory named "images" is in the same location/directory as your main document; a second referenced Mellel file named "example2.mellel" is in the "notes" directory which is in the same location/directory as your main document. Now, what happens if you move your main document? With relative file paths, if you do not move both the "images" and "notes" directories to the same new location where you moved your main document, then you will no longer have access to "example1.png" and "example2.mellel".

A similar problem would occur if you use absolute file paths. If you want to link in "~/Documents/images/example1.png" and "~/Documents/notes/example2.mellel", you can do that, and you would not notice any difference from relative file paths. This might be nicer, too, because your "images" and "notes" directories do not have to be the same place in relation to your main document. However, if you ever move, rename, replace or delete the referenced files, then your link will be useless.

What happens if you want to send your main document to someone else to take a look at, but they only download the main document, then what do you do? They do not have a copy of your linked files, and the purpose of linked files is lost. Or if they download only the main file, but they have files named "example1.png" and "example2.mellel" in the locations where the main document is going to look? The links would work, but would reference the incorrect document.

2. Network Locations. Network locations are represented by a well-defined format know as a URI scheme. This is probably the most common method of linking items externally. However, this type of linking requires network access, and not all viewers of your document may have the necessary access.

3. Styles. How are these links to be indicated? Are they going to have a specific character style applied to them? It seems it would be necessary to introduce an intermediary style between the character and paragraph levels to handle these "stream" type of objects. (This "stream" entity would have further uses such as defining streams of text as one language or another, which is another often asked for feature.) Also, how would the the interface indicate that there are external links? Would the Microsoft model be adopted where all external links are bold-faced and underlined blue text? What about the consistency with the rest of the document?

4. Import/Export. How would sharing documents in other formats work? This is especially important for exporting documents. For linked files, would RTF export resort to RTFD or resolve the links and insert the files in place? How about Word export? Word supports linked files, but Mellel's Word export is actually RTF with a ".doc" extension. What effect does this have on that? Perhaps most important would be PDF. Mellel's current PDF export is quite limited. TOC export is not supported, and bookmarks are not preserved. How would external links be handled in PDF?

I'm not trying to be a spoil-sport, but these are real issues that can affect your workflow and how you handle/manage your documents. While one may not care about how the features are implemented, only that they "just work", how they work is important, too. If your desire is for just having a clickable link to some external resource, what happens when you want to share your document with someone else? If the person you've shared your document with sees an external link and tries to click it, but nothing happens because there were issues between implementations, then this would directly affect you. (True, this would not be the case if everyone was using Mellel, but in a real-world situation, how often does everyone you exchange documents with use Mellel?)

Hopefully these points can help everyone involved be more specific about what is desired, so that if/when it is implemented, it will work in the expected manner. There's nothing worse than hearing a new feature has been added, only to find out that while it sounds exactly like what you want, it really is quite different from what you were expecting.
— Robert Cameron

Nick Sloan
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by Nick Sloan » Tue May 04, 2010 4:08 pm

I am sorry that it has taken me a while to respond to R P Cameron’s detailed explanation of the options here. I visit this forum rather randomly.

Speaking for myself, what I am looking for with links to external files in Mellel is simply the ability to extend the reach of Mellel by having separate but local documents (and online resources) readily referenced and openable from within specific Mellel documents, without having to hunt them down in Finder.

For instance: say I am writing an account of a dispute, and need to reference various related documents and folders without wanting to incorporate them all into one unwieldy document. I might choose to place links in footnotes, or in the main text, such that clicking them would open the external document or folder.

I would like the links to be editable within Mellel, so that however they are in the first instance set up, the reference in the text is not limited to the file name and certainly not the URL, but I would prefer to set or change the name manually. Likwise I would not expect (or want) Mellel automatically to style the text of the reference, again preferring to apply my own preferred style manually if I want to differentiate the reference from the surrounding text.

A link to an external ref should however be indicated by the cursor changing to a hand. It would also be helpful if the filename and/or URL were available as tooltips on hover, or via a contextual menu when control-clicking on references. Finally, it should be possible to search for such references.

While links to external files are implemented in different ways in Word, Nisus and Scrivener, the closest to my ideal (that I know of) would be Voodoo Pad, where items can simply be dragged onto a page to become clickable links; whether or not (and how) they are styled in the text being subject to preference. The only thing you cannot do in Voodoo Pad (there is always something) is to rename the link.

No doubt the interface for creating links in Mellel would be rethought from scratch. I would much rather use drag and drop for local files than have to browse to them or insert file system URLs manually, but anything that did the business would be welcome.

So, to answer the points in the post above (just speaking for myself here):
1) Absolute paths (accepting the limitations, and in particular that any links to local items will be useless in shared documents; that does not concern me, since I am only interested in links for personal use.)
2) Not an issue for me, though with online URLs the limitation would be assumed.
3) Ideally I’d like a preference for whether or not links are by default differentiated, for instance by underlining, but in any case manual over-rides should be possible.
4) Again, import and export is not for me an issue—and it would greatly simplify the implementation of the feature if Mellel-created links were simply ignored in exports to RTF etc, at least as far as links to local files are concerned; URLs to web pages (easily distinguished) could presumably be maintained and translated into whatever form is supported in RTF/DOC? I don’t know how this would work for PDF.

harryhoffner
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by harryhoffner » Tue May 04, 2010 10:22 pm

Thanks, Nick. I think your preferences are mine as well. And thanks to others for their input as well.

dialektik
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by dialektik » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:35 pm

Are there any plans to incorporate such a feature in the next release?

Roger
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by Roger » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:45 pm

I also would like to publish a PDF from Mellel and have an active URL to my website (or other internet links). I do not want Mellel to automatically convert a URL to an active link, but I would like the ability to manually insert the link. Thanks!
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Roger
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by Roger » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:53 pm

I did some research and found that after exporting a PDF from Mellel, I can open the PDF in Preview and add the links in Preview. I guess that's why it has not been incorporated into Mellel, because OSX has a built in work-around. From Preview's help file:
Adding a link to a PDF document
You can add links to your PDF document. Links can make a document easier to navigate by linking to other pages in the document or by linking to a website where readers can get information from the Internet.

To add a link to a PDF document:
Choose what you want the user to click by doing one of the following:
If you want the user to click some text, select the text, click Annotate in the toolbar, and then click Link.
If you want the user to click a picture, click Annotate in the toolbar, click Link, and then drag the cursor over the picture.

Choose the link’s destination by doing one of the following:
If you want to link to a website, choose URL from the Action pop-up menu, and enter the full website address in the URL field.
If you want to link to another page in your PDF document, choose Link Within PDF from the Action pop-up menu, go to the page you want to link to, and then click Set Destination.
If you want to call attention to the link, you can underline it, encircle it with an oval, or enclose it in a rectangle.
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ozean
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by ozean » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:32 pm

Oh, how nice! I didn’t know this is possible in Preview too. (So far I have always fired up Adobe Acrobat Pro to do that.)

harryhoffner
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by harryhoffner » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:12 pm

I'm sure there are other features that one could add after the composition phase is complete, by exporting to PDF. But this is hardly a solution to my problem. I am engaged in writing a book manuscript. As I proceed, I need to be able to insert the hyperlinks and have them function as I continue with the composition process. They are for my use in the continuing composition, not just for the end-user after I am finished. Waiting until the ms is complete and exporting to PDF to insert the hyperlinks would be unhelpful. I would urge the Redlers to implement a hyperlink feature and not be satisfied that a post-editing export to Preview will solve some users' problem.

dialektik
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Re: Feature request: hyperlinks to external files

Post by dialektik » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:31 pm

bump. Repeating my question from two years ago: Are there any plans for implementing such a feature? If not, why not?

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