Mini-Microsoft Cutting Room Floor

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great Word Feedback - New comment on Beyond Redmond Product Groups

Jordan has left a new comment on your post "Beyond Redmond Product Groups":

I've been wrestling with Microsoft Word for as long as anyone, and I'm astounded that a flagship product from the industry leader that's been through at least six major release versions is so overrun with basic design flaws and logical inconsistencies.

The discussion of "fundamental changes" in Office 2007 is, therefore, intriguing to me. Photoshop changed its central behavioral logic at version 7, IIRC; it was a seismic shift that was hated at the time but proves more and more necessary with each passing Word is more than due for a similar overhaul.

How hard would it be for Microsoft to make a word processor that:

--Uses a "character/word/paragraph/section/subdocument/document" metaphor that obeys logic and is consistently applied (e.g. predictable and consistent results when deleting a section break marker vs. deleting a paragraph marker)

--Does not rashly equate "Redo [the last Undo]" with "Repeat the last command (or user action)" (as Word does, in Control-Y)

--Uses formatting toggles that are reasonable, without indiscriminate checkboses and strange booleans like "Not Italic"

--Understands character formatting at least as well as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (each of which fits a dynamic display of every conceivable parameter for the entire character/"font" attribute set into a single 125/125 pixel palette) rather than scattering the functionality across multiple toolbars, menus and multi-tabbed dialog boxes

--Can alphabetize a list while ignoring articles and spelling out numerals (for example, sorting "1941" under N and "The Deer Hunter" under D, as in a book index)

--Can nest documents using dynamic and/or relative links (so that a document with sub-documents does not fall apart when moved to a different location on disk)

--Does not insist on transforming its document windows into web browser windows at the slightest provocation (e.g. any coherent hypertext irreversibly changing into a link that cannot be selected as text and will morph the window into browser mode when clicked)

--Can apply manual letter spacing which scales proportionally with the font size, rather than in absolute point sizes, so that appearance remains consistent as the text is resized

--Can scale onscreen text without destroying both character appearance and character spacing

--Can handle Adobe PostScript font ligatures, glyphs, and sub-pixel kerning

--Can generate line numbers that can be re-arranged and edited (in other words, force the ordinal numbers to move with the items, which is impossible in Word without saving as a plain text file)

--Can deal with an embedded graphic in a fashion that leverages both the PCI video card and the printer drivers, for reasonable accuracy, and in order to force full-resolution vector-based PostScript artwork to output properly

--Can leverage the video card when making 2D and 3D graphs

--Possesses, displays and uses a full complement of "keyboard shortcuts"

As things stand, the single, aforementioned "type"/"paragraph" palette in Adobe Illustrator is a better word processor than Microsoft Word (at least from a formatting/kerning/font selection standpoint). It would be great if Microsoft finally gave us all the 21st Century word processor we need.

(Great Word feedback, Jordan. Really. You should repost this over at the Word Team Blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/microsoft_office_word/default.aspx . I'm putting here just because, well, it started on topic and turned into some deep feedback on Word which went way off topic.)

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