Re: DSSSL and WYSIWYG Editing

Paul Prescod wrote:

> Greg Kostello wrote:
> > I find it interesting that you would assert that statement which
> is
> > contrary to the evolution of document generation tools over the
> last
> > decade.
> Evolutionary directions change. You don't have really powerful
> gills, do
> you? =) What if someone asked you five years ago if millions of
> people
> would be back to editing documents in text editors by 1997. You
> would
> have thought I was nuts (so would I!). And who would have thought
> that
> plain old ASCII email would be so popular? Only a small percentage
> of
> the email documents I get take advantage even of the limited
> formatting
> available in many modern email programs.

Until you starting using <PLUG> Netscape Messenger </PLUG> or a similar
e-mail client. It uses HTML as the standard format (which is
automatically converted to ASCII for those less privileged :) ). Every
day, I get more rich e-mail.

> I don't believe that that particular devolution will last forever
> but it
> isn't at all clear to me that the next big document UI paradigm will
> be
> the same as the last one.

> > As computers and software has become more powerful, document
> > authoring tools have become more and more WYSIWYG. Sure some
> people want
> > to be able to edit in draft mode, but people now always have the
> option
> > of editing in full WYSIWYG mode.
> I'm not arguing that that option should ever be removed. But the
> more
> complicated documents become the less people will be *interested* in
> wasting screen real estate with headers, footers and generated
> tables of
> contents. And despite all of the research and usability testing
> editing is still *hard*. I've spent many hours "debugging" lists
> that
> misnumbered themselves, margins that extend too far or not far
> enough
> etc. etc.

Bugs are always infuriating and poor user interface is often
frustrating. I would argue that the software is poorly implemented, not
that the concept is incorrect. I think we probably could agree that
there is a middle ground on what is appropriate for WYSIWYG display.

> > While the tech-doc market may require
> > function over form, the office-document market has moved in the
> opposite
> > direction.
> Offices that emphasize form for internal-use documents will
> eventually
> put themselves out of business.
> > IMHO, if DSSSL moves in a direction which precludes the ability
> to
> > easily and efficiently author in a WYSIWYG mode,  then I believe
> in is
> > unlikely to be adopted.
> DSSSL was designed with WYSIWYG in mind. You can make DSSSL
> stylesheets
> that do not look very WYSIWYG until the generated text is generated
> but
> the same holds of standard wordprocessors.
> > ...
> > There are ways to give users visual cues to changes in structure.
> For
> > example, section break is used in Word and a visual component can
> be
> > displayed if desired.
> Then you are moving away from WYSIWYG. What you've got now is What
> You
> See Is More Than What You Get.

That's OK with me. I don't think software should perfectly model the
external world. For example, I'm a big fan of UNDO,  unfortunately,
there is no real-world equivalent. Nor am I against structured document
views, which can be very helpful for navigation purposes. However, I
have come to expect editing my (unscripted) documents in WYSIWYG mode,
especially those documents with complex layout and style. I worked on a
project which implemented this kind of application so I know it is

> > I have been around long enough to remember when people said that
> images
> > could not  and should not be shown in a editor. They are too
> inefficient
> > and they get in the way.  Nor should we show different fonts, nor
> > multiple columns, nor fractional point fonts, headers, footer,
> etc.,
> > etc. Now, of course, these are standard features on modern word
> > processors. IMHO, this is a step forward, not a step backwards.
> I agree. But the *next step forward* will be to make much of that
> stuff
> increasingly optional and decreasingly "in your face" while you are
> authoring. Images are content so they should usually be displayed.
> Many
> other things you mention are powerful visual cues to structure and
> should usually be displayed. A lot of other stuff should be
> relegated to
> "DTP" mode.

Again, this should be user choice. I think we are in violent agreement
here :).

> In other words WYSIWYG should be delegated from a user model to a
> metaphor and must be combined with other metaphors (such as three
> dimensional steps representing element nesting, the "tag" metaphor,
> tree
> and web metaphors) to emphasize structure and efficiency over form.

Yes, yes, yes. No disagreement, how the user views the document should
be his or her choice.

> There will always be a minority of the population for whom form is
> most
> important, of course, the designers, typographers etc. Even they
> will
> probably switch modes when they are working on medium sized
> documents
> where structure, links etc. are important.

I'm one of those people who believes that form AND function are integral
to the message. I think we can work to satisfy those people who skirt
the entire spectrum.

Greg Kostello