Re: POW user suggestion

Subject: Re: POW user suggestion
From: David Chart (
Date: Sun Aug 19 2001 - 07:04:27 CDT

On 19 Aug 2001 01:33:45 +0200, Håkan Waara wrote:
> Now, if the user closes the last document onscreen, well, what the heck,
> let her do that! She doesn't want a new window, she doesn't want an
> alert, she just want to close that darn document.
> Summing up, I think the ideal solution would be to just think of Abiword
> as a document. The philosophy is that each document is its application,
> much like Windows handles instances of applications.

But AbiWord isn't just a document. We have a Window menu and an Exit
command that stop people think of it that way. Our UI tells people
'AbiWord is something over and above the documents'. This behaviour of
the Close button says 'Oh, except when you select Close with one
document open. Then AbiWord is just the same as the document.'

Also, the File menu says 'There are two different commands. Close closes
this document. Exit closes the whole of AbiWord.' And then you discover
that when you only have one document open, Close and Exit are the same,
although they aren't under other circumstances.

The interface is inconsistent, and creates confusing expectations. There
might well be advantages to the MSDI model, but it's a kludge, and the
fact that it requires a kludge on the behaviour of some commands to make
them consistent should not surprise anyone.

Pure MDI would be fine. All the windows would open within the Abi frame.
(Mac behaviour is, effectively, MDI.) Pure SDI would be fine. Every
document would be a separate instance of Abi, needing a separate 'kill'
command in Unix to bring it down.

Here's yet more confusing behaviour. Under Linux, launch Abi twice,
using, say, a panel button. You get two Abi windows, both called
Untitled1. If you have autosave set for backup, Abi will happily save
one file over the other's backup. The Window menu doesn't list the
windows of the other instance. Indeed, it appears that opening a
document by double clicking it opens a new instance of Abi under all

Hmmm... And you can open the same document in two instances of Abi, save
changes in one, then make changes in the other and save them, then close
the first instance and lose all the changes you made. Maybe this falls
under 'user is a twit' errors, though.

The document/application model is a mess. I hereby propose to ignore any
further arguments based on what is consistent for an SDI, at least until
Abi is rewritten so that it *is* an SDI. (New instance for every
document, new directory for backup files (or something), no Window menu,
no Exit command.)

As long as it's the current hybrid, the current behaviour of Close is
inconsistent and confusing, and needs to have something done to it. (It
is inconsistent because it does different things in different situations
without warning the user. It is confusing because about half the people
contributing to the thread are confused by it, at least at first. These
are not debatable points. I am fairly sure that inconsistent and
confusing bits of UI should be changed.)

David Chart

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