Marc Hedlund and Rick Schaut on Word

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
August 31st, 2004 • 6:08 am

O’Reilly contributor Marc Hedlund and MacBU developer Rick Schaut have a dialogue of sorts in their respective blogs.

It’s mildly interesting, but, like most discussions of this kind, it doesn’t really help, because it doesn’t deal with specifics. With Word, the devil is in the details. The blog you are reading here contains many entries about specific issues in Word that have been with us for years and that Microsoft has yet to address. And I am adding more every week.

What we really need to see from Microsoft is not things like Rick’s blog (which rarely deals with specific issues), but an evolution of the software itself that indicates that Microsoft is finally paying attention to the many details that are wrong — and not just a few of them.

What we need is a real software development cycle where fixing bugs and correcting details (for free) is just as important as adding new features (and making users pay for them).

Until this happens, Word will remain a frustrating and expensive beast.

5 Responses to “Marc Hedlund and Rick Schaut on Word”

  1. Olivier says:

    The Word 2004 bug that’s that close (-><-) to turn me into a serial fragger is this one.

    Try to insert a non breakable space after an Adobe font ! What’s the result ? The font automatically changes to “Times New Roman”, even though the default font is another one and if the style sheet says “Font : Adobe Garamond”.

    I’ve gotten used to always typing non breakable spaces before the French punctuations that require it or where I suspect a line break would be inappropriate, so I had to revert (upgrade) to Word v. X.

    Speaking of non breakable spaces, Word’s inability to include them in copied text means I use Text Edit whenever I must update a web site based on a Word document.

  2. Radardan says:

    Here here!!!!

    My current Word X problems:

    Getting INCLUDEPICTURE() to work in a Data Merge (if that’s the current term for it)

    Constant hassles with Data Merge to produce useable documents without formatting or data problems.

    I’m so sure they are not fixed in Word 2004 that I won’t even bother to check.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Olivier: It’s ridiculous. It’s scandalous. I don’t use Adobe (Postscript 1) fonts in Word. I don’t use Word for page layout. It’s too dangerous.

    As for using Word as part of a web site design workflow… It’s risky as well. I tend to use AppleScript scripts in BBEdit to make sure all the punctuation (including French punctuation) is right.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Olivier: I would recommend writing a macro command in Word that replaces all the important things like non-breaking spaces with unique combinations of characters that will not be lost in the cut-and-paste process between Word and BBEdit. Then in BBEdit use an AppleScript script that replaces the afore-mentioned unique combinations of characters with the desired HTML code.

    I once wrote a couple of columns for Applelust (here, here, and here) about using Word and BBEdit as part of a word-processor-to-web-page workflow. It’s dated and incomplete, but you might still find some useful tips in there.

  5. Olivier says:

    I have this problem with Adobe OpenType fonts as well. Pathetic. Unfortunately, InDesign is a bit overkill and not best suited for writing a simple report. and font management in LaTeX is a pain in the neck. I don’t know of any word processor with decent style support and I like consistency in my documents. I put high hopes on Nisus Express 2.0, though.

    As for using Word as part of a web site design workflow (well, content update workflow, I do all my CSS design in BBEdit), it would be nice to have a choice, but unfortunately there is often no way of educating people about producing RTF files with the bare minimum of formatting for website update content. Somehow they *have* to put fancy tables and links that display some other text instead of the URL and on which the only solution is to open the properties to get it. And since they bring the money, you can’t be too harsh with them.

    Anyway, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if Word were capable of doing the one thing I asks for in this case: copy the whole bloody document as is so I can paste it in BBEdit.

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