Re: POW user suggestion

Subject: Re: POW user suggestion
From: Randy Kramer (
Date: Mon Aug 20 2001 - 10:13:01 CDT

I made a few "misstatements" in the following which I think I should
correct "just for the record". They don't change the intent or "real
meaning" of what I said.

(And now I see why there are two different threads on the same subject,
one is in abiword-users, the other in abiword-dev -- I can be quite
observant at times (*not*) ;-)

Also, just for the record, I'm bowing out of any further discussion on
this issue (at least at this time). If the consensus is to leave the
behavior as is for the time being, I can live with / support that,
until, as Paul says, the second two million users straighen us out (or

Randy Kramer

Randy Kramer wrote:
> I agree with everything David says, but I want to build a little bit
> further on one thing that David mentions, along the lines of AbiWord's
> MSDI is confusing. In fact, it is very confusing.
> If you open two copies of a document in a "single instance" of AbiWord
> (open a document in AbiWord, then open the same document again from that
> instance of AbiWord), changes between the two windows are synchronized
> (changes in either window are made to both).

Clarification: The (only) way you can open the same document again from
that instance of AbiWord is by the Window --> New Window approach.

> On the other hand, as David says, if you open the same document in two
> "separate instances" of AbiWord (start AbiWord twice from the command
> line on the same document), changes between the two instances are not
> synchronized.

Clarification: Although you can "start AbiWord twice from the command
> line on the same document" in Linux, I didn't do that in Windows. In Windows I double clicked on abiword.exe twice to start two instances, then opened the same document in each.

> Talk about confusing! (Sort of responding in Nil's direction.)
> But, yet, I would tend to argue for this behavior (only if I can't have
> an MDI interface) -- why? Well, I'm used to opening more than one
> window on a single document (in Word97, an MDI) in order to do things
> like cut and paste between the documents, without worrying that if I now
(Now I'm getting pedantic:----------------------------- delete if ^^)

> have two different (unsynchronized) copies of the same document, (and
> that if I save the wrong one, or copy and paste in both directions, or
> make changes in the one I'm copying from, I've created a problem for
> myself). (In Word97, an MDI, you can still open two separate instances
> of Word97, have the same document open in both, and create similar
> problems, but, the fact that it is an MDI gives me some other
> "contextual" hints such that I can't recall ever having made that
> mistake. When I do things like copy and paste between the same document
> I do it in a single instance of Word, and recognize what I'm doing
> because I commonly display both windows at the same time, side by side
> or one above the other, within the same "master window" of Word.)
> I understand that Word 2000 is an SDI. I don't use it, and I'm very
> curious how Microsoft has dealt with the concerns mentioned above. My
> first thought is that they've taken a step backwards. I suppose I'll
> really have to find a copy of Word 2000 and try it.

Ahh, Word 2000 is apparently an MSDI based on other comments on the

> I guess I've regarded the decision of AbiWord to be an SDI (which I
> thought it was until (1) I recently discovered the behavior described
> above, and (2) Paul told us it was an MSDI) as pretty much cast in
> concrete, but, if there is an opportunity to reconsider ...
> (Also, this explains the existence of the Windows item on the AbiWord
> menu, something that surprised me on what I thought was an SDI
> application.)
> Also, to respond to Håkan:
> Notepad (from Win95): SDI, no Close option, only Exit
> Wordpad (from Win95): SDI, no Close option, only Exit
> Word97: MDI, much as David described in another post, for Word 2000:
> Close and Exit both exist. With one document open, if you click Close,
> Word remains open with no document (window has all the Word controls,
> but a gray background). At this point, the Close menu item is grayed
> out.
> Randy Kramer
> David Chart wrote:
> > 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
> > circumstances.
> >
> > 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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