Word X: Another improvement that won’t be included in Word 2004

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 30th, 2004 • 6:31 am

I’ve already mentioned a long-overdue enhancement that probably will not be included in Word any time soon, even though it’d probably be much more useful than whatever fancy “intelligent” feature Microsoft is promising for Office 2004.

Here’s another example. For years now, Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit text editor has included a feature that makes perfect sense and would be very useful in Word as well. It’s the ability to remember the exact location where the cursor was the last time the document was saved.

Most of my writing projects are projects that span several days, if not weeks, and involve documents whose page count often exceed 100 pages. I also often have to go over existing documents and make changes here and there. If I stop working on a Word document at page 51 on Wednesday, save it and close it, when I return to it the next day and open it, Word puts me back at the beginning of the document. I need to remember where I was and scroll down manually. With a BBEdit document, on the other hand, BBEdit remembers where I was when I last saved the document, and automatically displays the exact same portion of the document the next time I open it.

Now, Word does have a feature that does something similar. It’s the “GoBack” command (shift-F5). But in my experience, it doesn’t work too well. Sometimes it simply does not remember. Sometimes it goes to the wrong place.

It goes beyond this, however. BBEdit, just like Word, provides the ability to split a document window into two panes, so that the user can view two different portions of the same document at the same time in the same window. Now get this: When I save a BBEdit document that is in split view, BBEdit saves that aspect of the document state as well, and restores things exactly as they were when I last saved the document the next time I open it.

Needless to say, Word is utterly unable to remember any of this. This is a perfect example of the gulf between a software company (Microsoft) that claims to be listening to its users, and a software company (Bare Bones) that actually does listen.

The day that Microsoft finally starts adding such much-needed features to Word, I’ll start believing the crap about Microsoft Mac Business Unit workers being “Mac lovers.” Until then…

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