Tag : openoffice

OpenType support in OpenOffice 3.2 (Greek)

The new version 3.2 of OpenOffice.org is being developed and you can currently download the release candidate for your testing purposes.

A big enhancement in OpenOffice.org 3.2 is the support for OpenType fonts. A typical Linux user is able to do most of the tasks with TrueType fonts, however any new exciting fonts available are mostly OpenType fonts. So, OpenOffice.org 3.2 (to be released this month) has OpenType support and most likely Ubuntu 10.04 is going to have OpenOffice.org 3.2.

You can install OpenOffice 3.2 RC (or final, in a few weeks) on your Ubuntu by downloading the relevant archive from download the release candidate. Extract the files and enter the DEBS/ subdirectory. Then, run sudo dpkg -i *.deb in order to install the development version of OpenOffice 3.2. The installed files are located in /opt/ooo-dev3/program/ and you run now run swriter (for Writer). It is quite possible there is already a relevant PPA repository; tell me in the comments and I’ll update here.

We test with the Greek Font Society OpenType fonts, which are distributed with the OpenFont License. The Debian/Ubuntu repositories already have the GFS fonts packaged for you. You can either install the fonts with your package manager (open synaptic package manager, search for ttf-gfs), or run from the command line

sudo apt-get install ttf-gfs-artemisia ttf-gfs-baskerville ttf-gfs-bodoni-classic ttf-gfs-complutum ttf-gfs-didot-classic ttf-gfs-gazis ttf-gfs-neohellenic ttf-gfs-solomos ttf-gfs-theokritos

Here is a screenshot of the PDF file of GFS Fonts Sample. With OpenOffice.org 3.1 or earlier these fonts would not appear in Writer and would be replaced with the default OpenOffice.org font. In addition, if you tried to export to PDF, you would get the default font (that is, the OpenType fonts do not get embedded in the PDF file either).

Here is the .odf file of the GFS Fonts Sample. If you load it in OpenOffice.org 3.1, you will notice that the default OpenOffice.org font will appear for each line in the sample file. If you load the sample .odt file in OpenOffice.org 3.2, you need to have the GFS OpenType fonts installed beforehand.

The GFS fonts support Greek, Greek Polytonic and several ancient Greek characters. See How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux for instructions on how to configure and use the Greek keyboard layout in Linux. Note that to type Greek Polytonic, you do not need anymore to select the Polytonic layout; the default «Greek» keyboard layout has been updated so that you can type Greek, Greek Polytonic and Ancient Greek characters.  Ergo, άᾷᾂϡϖϝ€ϕͼϾʹ͵ϐϛ.

What to see in OpenOffice.org 3.1 Writer;

At the User Experience mailing list at OpenOffice.org there is a thread to discuss & plan what new things should make it to OpenOffice.org 3.1. Here is the first email,

From: Christian Jansen

Date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 8:35 AM

Hi,
OpenOffice.org 3.1 planning will start soon, thus I’d like to collect some ideas (from an UX-perspective) for improving OpenOffice.org Writer.

What drives you nuts?

What works pretty well?

My most wanted feature is:

Thanks for your feedback!

Regards,
Christian [Jansen]

Source: http://ux.openoffice.org/servlets/ReadMsg?list=discuss&msgNo=1890

Feedback started pouring in. Make your way to the user-experience discuss@ux.openoffice.org mailing list to add your views. When you log in to OpenOffice.org, you click to subscribe to the mailing list. That is, you need to make an account first.

Προβληματικές συμπεριφορές στο adslgr.com/Forum του Linux

Παρακολουθώ μερικά forum και την ενότητα για Linux που έχουν, και αρκετές φορές απαντώ σε ερωτήματα χρηστών. Μερικά έχουν μικρή κίνηση, άλλα έχουν αρκετή και είναι πολύ ζωντανά. Ένα από τα forum αυτά είναι το ADSLGR.com @ Linux.

Ωστόσο υπάρχει ένα πρόβλημα συμπεριφοράς από μερικά από τα «παλιά» μέλη που χρησιμοποιούν τακτικές bullying για να περάσουν τις απόψεις τους. Είναι πραγματικά παράξενο να έχουμε τέτοια ζητήματα στο ελεύθερο λογισμικό. Ωστόσο έτσι φαίνεται να είναι.

Σε μια συζήτηση, για τα νεότερα στο GNOME 2.22,
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showthread.php?t=184570 υπήρξαν σχόλια με ύψηλο flameability,

Α. «Ακομα πιο προηγμενο, τωρα ΚΑΙ με υποστηριξη για webcam. »
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…31&postcount=2

Β. «χαχαχα, μπήκε download notification στον epiphany.»
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…86&postcount=6

Γ. «Σε λίγο θα διαφημίσουν και το κουμπάκι “πίσω”, ε μα είναι πράγματα αυτα?»
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…13&postcount=9

Δ. « Αρχικό μήνυμα από simosx Διαβάζω όλα αυτά τα ειρωνικά σχόλια, όπως και στο άλλο thread με τον έξυπνο τίτλο gnome-vs-kde.
Ως ελληνική κοινότητα φαίνεται να είμαστε άσχετοι από τα τεκτενόμενα στο εξωτερικό. Είμαστε θεατές με επιφανειακή γνώση. »

««Συγγνώμη, για να εκφέρουμε άποψη πρέπει να συνεισφέρουμε πρώτα? Έλεος, διαφημίζουν τα αυτονόητα που υπάρχουν σε άλλους browsers εδώ και 10 χρόνια και καμαρώνουν κιόλας…?
Εντάξει, αφου πλέον μπορώ να βλεπω την ώρα στην Αυστραλία για να μην παρεξηγούμαι που δεν απαντάει στο msn η τουρ-τουρίστρια που γνώρισα πέρσυ, όλα καλά .»»
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…9&postcount=11

Ε. «Θα σου δώσει κατάλληλη απάντηση κάποιος καλοθελητής σε λίγο.»
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…3&postcount=13

ΣΤ. «Χρησιμοποιώ και gnome ενίοτε αλλά με τέτοιες μπαρούφες που κάθονται και του βάζουν…»
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…7&postcount=31

Ζ. «το μόνο σίγουρο είναι πως κάναμε hijacked το θέμα του gnome
έτσι κι αλλιώς δεν έχει ενδιαφέρον »
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…5&postcount=47

Η. « Αρχικό μήνυμα από no_logo το μόνο σίγουρο είναι πως κάναμε hijacked το θέμα του gnome
έτσι κι αλλιώς δεν έχει ενδιαφέρον
Ποιος το λέει ; Ο καθοδηγητής μήπως ; »
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…9&postcount=50

Θ. « Αρχικό μήνυμα από midnightsun Ποιος το λέει ; Ο καθοδηγητής μήπως ;
η πραγματικότητα 1 σελίδα είναι η “είδηση” για το gnome, οι υπόλοιπες είναι bashing από kde χρήστες και το πρόβλημα του ATC
Πάρε μάτι το νήμα του kde 4 που ενώ δεν έχει βγει ακόμα μαζικά έχουν γραφτεί σελίδες επι σελίδων
Αυτή είναι η διαφορά, ψοφοδεής κοινότητα από την μια vs την ζωντανή και ενεργητική κοινότητα του kde »
http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showpost…8&postcount=51

(σταματώ στη σελίδα 5 του νήματος· πάει μέχρι το 8)

Αυτό που βλέπω είναι ότι η αρνητική συμπεριφορά δεν είναι μεμονωμένη, και υπάρχουν και moderators που λαμβάνουν μέρος.

Αν μια διανομή είναι καλύτερη ή όχι από μια άλλη, αυτό δεν μπορεί να είναι αίτια για τέτοιες αρνητικές συμπεριφορές. Στην πραγματικότητα, οι διανομές/γραφικά περιβάλλοντα αποτελούν απλά αφορμή, κάτι το επιφανειακό.

Ένα άλλο χαρακτηριστικό είναι η κομπλεξική συμπεριφορά και η χρήση γραφικών εκφράσεων όπως «μυκητίαση» ή «μούχλα» (σε κάποια βίντεο κατά την αναπαραγωγή φαίνονται κάποιες περιοχές σε πράσινο χρώμα· πρώτη φορά το ακούω, και η λύση ίσως να είναι ένα απλό «περίμενε να ολοκληρωθεί το torrent»). Ο τίτλος της συζήτησης ήταν «18 μήνες έχει κλείσει αδιόρθωτο το bug της μούχλας του Xine».

Άλλες εκφράσεις συμπεριλαμβάνουν «άθλιο», που είναι μια γενική περιγραφή για τα προγράμματα που δεν καταλαβαίνουμε πως δουλεύουν.

Ένα ακόμα μήνυμα που βλέπουμε να περνάει από το adslgr.com/Linux είναι ότι στο ελεύθερο λογισμικό υπάρχουν κάποιοι «άλλοι» που έχουν υποχρέωση να κάνουν τη δουλειά, και αν δεν την κάνουν σωστά είναι άθλιοι. Αυτοί οι άλλοι είναι ταπεινοί υπηρέτες μας. Εδώ πρέπει να υπάρχει μια υποβόσκουσα σύνδεση στη σειρά Lost και τους Άλλους. (Ωχ, και εγώ κατάντησα να λέω μακίες).

Τι προβλήματα δημιουργεί αυτή η αρνητική συμπεριφορά;

  • Είναι ιδιαίτερα επιβλαβής στην ελληνική κοινότητα ελεύθερου λογισμικού. Η κοινότητα βασίζεται στην «ελεύθερη οργάνωση» που σημαίνει ότι δεν υπάρχουν επίσημες δομές στήριξης που θα περίμενε κάποιος σε ένα επιχειρηματικό περιβάλλον. Αν κάποιος νέος χρήστης τύχει να περάσει πρώτα από το ADSLGR.com για να μάθει για το Linux, τότε η κοινότητα έχει πιθανότατα χάσει ένα μέλος.
  • Τα μέλη διαιωνίζουν την αρνητική συμπεριφορά και σε άλλους χώρους.
  • Προκαλούν burnout (κούραση, μειωμένο ενδιαφέρον) στα άτομα που πραγματικά βοηθάνε. Μερικά από τα άτομα αυτά έχουν ήδη γίνει ban (!) διότι δεν ακολουθούν τη γραμμή των μπούληδων. Πάντως σε τελική ανάλυση κάτι τέτοιο είναι θετικό μιας και δεν ασχολούνται πια με το φόρουμ αυτό.

Για το που πάει το forum αυτό, ας δούμε μια πρόσφατη εγγραφή στο ίδιο φόρουμ κάποιου χρήστη, για τη διανομή Ubuntu (emphasis mine).

Θέμα: Ubuntu 8.04: Κάθε πέρυσι και καλύτερα?

Θα ήθελα τη γνώμη των χρηστών που εγκατέστησαν – δοκίμασαν την πιο πρόσφατη έκδοση της Ubuntu. Θα ήθελα να ξέρω αν, παρά τις διθυραμβικές κριτικές που είχα διαβάσει πριν την έλευσή της σε διάφορα τεχνολογικά sites, έχετε την ίδια αίσθηση με μένα: ΑΠΟΓΟΗΤΕΥΣΗ!
Κατ’ αρχάς να πω ότι το τελευταίο εξάμηνο χρησιμοποιούσα αρχικά την Feisty και ακολούθως την Gutsy. Συγκρίνοντας τις δύο μεταξύ τους θεωρούσα ότι υπήρχε μία αργή αλλά σταθερή βελτίωση στις διανομές. Στο laptop και οι δύο λειτουργούσαν θαυμάσια (ένα Sony Vaio) αλλά στο deskotp η Feisty αρνιόταν να αναγνωρίσει μία ασύρματη κάρτα Linksys WMP54g 4.1. Το πρόβλημα λύθηκε (σχεδόν) με την έλευση της Gutsy οπότε και με μερικά τρικ κατάφερα να εγκαταστήσω επιτυχώς Ubuntu και στο desktop. Το upgrade δε από Feisty σε Gutsy ήταν απλά άψογο.
Για να έρθουμε στην τελευταία έκδοση, Hardy Heron. Κατ’ αρχάς το upgrade και στα δύο μηχανήματα δημιούργησε προβλήματα και αναγκάστηκα να κάνω clean install κρατώντας σταθερό το home. Στο laptop είχα πρόβλημα στην εναλλαγή των layouts στο πληκτρολόγιο, καθώς έπρεπε να το ορίσω σε κάθε boot για να δουλέψει. Επίσης πρόβλημα παρουσιάστηκε στην ομαλή λειτουργία του openoffice (περίεργα κωλύματα που δεν είχα ξανασυναντήσει στην προηγούμενη έκδοση) και στη λειτουργία του emerald theme manager. Στο desktop δεν είχα το πρόβλημα με τα layouts του πληκτρολογίου αλλά είχα τα ίδια με το openoffice και το emerald, ενώ η σταγόνα που ξεχείλισε το ποτήρι ήταν ότι δε δούλευε το number keypad του πληκτρολογίου που δούλευε μία χαρά στην προηγούμενη έκδοση.
Για να μη σας κουράσω, έχω πλέον ξαναγυρίσει στην gutsy και στα δύο μου μηχανήματα. Το ερώτημα: είχατε αντίστοιχα προβλήματα? Και η αγωνία: θα είναι η 8.10 καλύτερη ή χειρότερη (η 8.04 είναι και LTS τρομάρα τους!)
To ADSLGR.com ως δικτυακός τόπος είναι σημαντικός και προσφέρει αρκετά στη γενικότερη κοινότητα. Το θέμα είναι ότι το κομμάτι που έχει να κάνει με το Linux είναι προβληματικό, και κάποιοι από τους συντονιστές διαιωνίζουν αντί να διορθώνουν την κατάσταση.
Αυτό που θα ήθελα να προτείνω στους χρήστες είναι να αποφεύγουν το ADSLGR.com/Linux για το άμεσο μέλλον, μέχρι τουλάχιστον να αλλάξει η κατάσταση.
Ενημέρωση: Όχι άλλα σχόλια πια. Μπορείτε να συνεχίσετε τα σχόλιά σας στο http://adslgr-critics.blogspot.com/.

FOSDEM ’08, summary and comments

I attended FOSDEM ’08 which took place on the 23rd and 24th of February in Brussels.

Compared to other events, FOSDEM is a big event with over 4000 (?) participants and over 200 lectures (from lightning talks to keynotes). It occupied three buildings at a local university. Many sessions were taking place at the same time and you had to switch from one room to another. What follows is what I remember from the talks. Remember, people recollect <8% of the material they hear in a talk.

The first keynote was by Robin Rowe and Gabrielle Pantera, on using Linux in the motion picture industry. They showed a huge list of movies that were created using Linux farms. The first big item in the list was the movie Titanic (1997). The list stopped at around 2005 and the reason was that since then any significant movie that employs digital editing or 3D animation is created on Linux systems. They showed trailers from popular movies and explained how technology advanced to create realistic scenes. Part of being realistic, a generated scene may need to be blurred so that it does not look too crisp.

Next, Robert Watson gave a keynote on FreeBSD and the development community. He explained lots of things from the community that someone who is not using the distribution does not know about. FreeBSD apparently has a close-knit community, with people having specific roles. To become a developer, you go through a structured mentoring process which is great. I did not see such structured approach described in other open-source projects.

Pieter Hintjens, the former president of the FFII, talked about software patents. Software patents are bad because they describe ideas and not some concrete invention. This has been the view so that the target of the FFII effort fits on software patents. However, Pieter thinks that patents in general are bad, and it would be good to push this idea.

CMake is a build system, similar to what one gets with automake/autoconf/makefile. I have not seen this project before, and from what I saw, they look quite ambitious. Apparently it is very easy to get your compilation results on the web when you use CMake. In order to make their project more visible, they should make effort on migration of existing projects to using CMake. I did not see yet a major open-source package being developed with CMake, apart from CMake itself.

Richard Hughes talked about PackageKit, a layer that removes the complexity of packaging systems. You have GNOME and your distribution is either Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or something else. PackageKit allows to have a common interface, and simplifies the workflow of managing the installation of packages and the updates.

In the Virtualisation tracks, two talks were really amazing. Xen and VirtualBox. Virtualisation is hot property and both companies were bought recently by Citrix and Sun Microsystems respectively. Xen is a Type 1 (native, bare metal) hypervisor while VirtualBox is a Type 2 (hosted) hypervisor. You would typically use Xen if you want to supply different services on a fast server. VirtualBox is amazingly good when you want to have a desktop running on your computer.

Ian Pratt (Xen) explained well the advantages of using a hypervisor, going into many details. For example, if you have a service that is single-threaded, then it makes sense to use Xen and install it on a dual-core system. Then, you can install some other services on the same system, increasing the utilisation of your investment.

Achim Hasenmueller gave an amazing talk. He started with a joke; I have recently been demoted. From CEO to head of virtualisation department (name?) at Sun Microsystems. He walked through the audience on the steps of his company. The first virtualisation product of his company was sold to Connectix, which then was sold to Microsoft as VirtualPC. Around 2005, he started a new company, Innotek and the product VirtualBox. The first customers were government agencies in Germany and only recently (2007) they started selling to end-users.

Virtualisation is quite complex, and it becomes more complex if your offering is cross platform. They manage the complexity by making VirtualBox modular.

VirtualBox comes in two versions; an open-source version and a binary edition. The difference is that with the binary edition you get USB support and you can use RDP to access the host. If you installed VirtualBox from the repository of your distribution, there is no USB support. He did not commit whether the USB/RDP support would make it to the open-source version, though it might happen since Sun Microsystems bought the company. I think that if enough people request it, then it might happen.

VirtualBox uses QT 3.3 as the cross platform toolkit, and there is a plan to migrate to QT 4.0. GTK+ was considered, though it was not chosen because it does not provide yet good support in Win32 (applications do not look very native on Windows). wxWidgets were considered as well, but also rejected. Apparently, moving from QT 3.3 to QT 4.0 is a lot of effort.

Zeeshan Ali demonstrated GUPnP, a library that allows applications to use the UPnP (Universal Plug n Play) protocol. This protocol is used when your computer tells your ADSL model to open a port so that an external computer can communicate directly with you (bypassing firewall/NAT). UPnP can also be used to access the content of your media station. The gupnp library comes with two interesting tools; gupnp-universal-cp and gupnp-network-light. The first is a browser of UPnP devices; it can show you what devices are available, what functionality they export, and you can control said devices. For example, you can use GUPnP to open a port on your router; when someone connects from the Internet to port 22 on your modem, he is redirected to your server, at port 22.

You can also use the same tool to figure out what port mapping took place already on your modem.

The demo with the network light is that you run the browser on one computer and the network light on another, both on the local LAN (this thing works only on the local LAN). Then, you can use the browser to switch on/off the light using the UPnP protocol.

Dimitris Glezos gave a talk on transifex, the translation management framework that is currently used in Fedora. Translating software is a tedious task, and currently translators spent time on management tasks that have little to do with translation. We see several people dropping from translations due to this. Transifex is an evolving platform to make the work of the translator easier.

Dimitris talked about a command-line version of transifex coming out soon. Apparently, you can use this tool to grab the Greek translation of package gedit, branch HEAD. Do the translation and upload back the file.

What I would like to see here is a tool that you can instruct it to grab all PO files from a collection of projects (such as GNOME 2.22, UI Translations), and then you translate with your scripts/tools/etc. Then, you can use transifex to upload all those files using your SVN account.

The workflow would be something like

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --action=get
Reading from http://svn.gnome.org/svn/damned-lies/trunk/releases.xml.in... done.
Getting alacarte... done.
Getting bug-buddy... done.
...
Completed in 4:11s.
$ _

Now we translate any of the files we downloaded, and we push back upstream (of course, only those files that were changed).

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --user=simos --action=send
 Reading local files...
Found 6 changed files.
Uploading alacarte... done.
...
Completed uploading translation files to gnome-2.22.
$ _

Berend Cornelius talked about creating OpenOffice.org Wizards. You get such wizards when you click on File/Wizards…, and you can use them to fill in entries in a template document (such as your name, address, etc in a letter), or use to install the spellchecker files. Actually, one of the most common uses is to get those spellchecker files installed.

A wizard is actually an OpenOffice.org extension; once you write it and install it (Tools/Extensions…), you can have it appear as a button on a toolbar or a menu item among other menus.

You write wizards in C++, and one would normally work on an existing wizard as base for new ones.

When people type in a word-processor, they typically abuse it (that’s my statement, not Berend’s) by omitting the use of styles and formatting. This makes documents difficult to maintain. Having a wizard teach a new user how to write a structured document would be a good idea.

Perry Ismangil talked about pjsip, the portable open-source SIP and media stack. This means that you can have Internet telephony on different devices. Considering that Internet Telephony is a commodity, this is very cool. He demonstrated pjsip running two small devices, a Nintendo DS and an iPhone. Apparently pjsip can go on your OpenWRT router as well, giving you many more exciting opportunities.

Clutter is a library to create fast animations and other effects on the GNOME desktop. It uses hardware acceleration to make up for the speed. You don’t need to learn OpenGL stuff; Clutter is there to provide the glue.

Gutsy has Clutter 0.4.0 in the repositories and the latest version is 0.6.0. To try out, you need at least the clutter tarball from the Clutter website. To start programming for your desktop, you need to try some of the bindings packages.

I had the chance to spend time with the DejaVu guys (Hi Denis, Ben!). Also met up with Alexios, Dimitris x2, Serafeim, Markos and others from the Greek mission.

Overall, FOSDEM is a cool event. In two days there is so much material and interesting talks. It’s a recommended technical event.

Create flash videos of your desktop with recordmydesktop

John Varouhakis is the author of recordmydesktop and gtk-recordmydesktop (front-end) which is a tool to help you record a session on your Linux desktop and save it to a Flash video (.flv).

To install, click on System/Administration/Synaptic Package Manager, and search for gtk-recordmydesktop. Install it. Then, the application is available from Applications/Sound&Video/gtkRecordMyDesktop.

Screenshot of gtk-recordmydesktop

Before you are ready to capture your Flash video, you need to select the video area. There are several ways to do this; the most common is to click on Select Window, then click on the Window you want to record. A common mistake is that people try to select the window from the preview above. If you do that, when you would have selected the recorder itself to make a video of, which is not really useful. You need to click on the real window in order to select it; then, in the desktop preview you can see the selected window. In the above case, I selected the OpenOffice Writer window.

Assuming that you do not need to do any further customisation, you can simple press Record to start recording. Generally, it is good to check the recording settings using the GNOME Sound recorder beforehand. While recording, you can notice a special icon on the top panel. This is gtk-recordmydesktop. Once you press it, recording stops and the program will do the post-processing of the recording. The resulting file goes into your home folder, and has the extension .ogv.

Some common pitfalls include

  • I did not manage to get audio recording to work well for my system; I had to disable libasound so that the audio recording would not skip. With ALSA, sound skips while with OSS emulation it does not. Weird. Does it work for you?
  •  The post-processing of the recording takes some time. If you have a long recording, it may take some time to show that it makes progress, so you might think it crashed. Have patience.

I had made one such recording, which can be found at the Greek OLPC mailing list. John told me that the audio part of the video was not loud enough, and one can use extra post-processing to make it sound better. For example, one could extract the audio stream of the video, remove the noise, beautify (how?) and then add back to the video.

It’s good to try out gtk-recordmydesktop, even for a small recording. Do you have some cool tips from your Linux desktop that you want to share? Record your desktop!

OpenOffice Writer training notes (request: make training video plz!)

OpenOffice.org is one of the most important layers of the open-source stack. Although it does a superb job, we really need to make effort to get more users working on it.

Here we present training notes for the use of Writer, the word processor component of OpenOffice.org. We aim to make the best use of styles by creating well-structured documents. What we show here is built on work of others, including the OpenOffice Linux.com articles by Bruce Byfield, the amazing OpenOffice.org documentation and the spot-on article of Christian Paratschek at osnews.com. Actually, the following follow more or less Christian’s article.

When training in OpenOffice.org, it is important to create a fluid workflow that starts from the basics and increases gradually in complexity. It would be great if someone could turn the notes in a training video.

  1. We start of with running OpenOffice.org Writer. The default windows appears. Compared with other word processors, in OOo we see this text boundary in the document (the dim rectangle that shows the area we can write in). We mention we can show/hide it with View/Text boundaries.
  2. When creating a document, it is good to set the properties such as Title and Subject. We do that from File/Properties/Description. It may look too much effort now, but it will help us later wherever we want to write the document title or subject. Use Using OpenOffice.org Writer for title and How to write nice document in OpenOffice.org Writer for subject.
  3. Writer supports styles which makes life much easier. You probably have used styles before; using Heading 1, Heading 2 for headings so that you can create easily the Table of Contents. Writer has a Styles and Formatting window that is accessible from the icon/button near the File menu. The icon looks like a hand clicking on a 3×3 grid. You can also get the windows from Format/Styles and Formatting, or by simply pressing F11. Once you do that, you get a floating window. You can dock it by dragging it to the right edge of the Writer window. If you are into 3D desktop, it may not be easy to dock (it automatically switches to another side of the desktop cube). In this case, use the key combination Ctrl-Shift-F10 to dock the Styles and Formatting window. It is good here to resize the document (that is, change the magnification) so that it appears centered with little empty space around.
  4. Writer supports styles, not only for Paragraphs (like Heading 1) but also for Pages. See the status bar at the bottom of the Writer window; it mentions Default which is the default page style. When we write a document, the first page is good to have a distinct style that is appropriate to the properties of a first page. This includes, making sure the second page appears empty, the page gets no page numbering and so on. On the Styles and Formating dock we select the Page styles tab and we double-click on the First Page style. This will set the current page to the First Page style, and we can verify visually by looking at the status bar (Now First Page instead of the old Default).
  5. We are not writing yet; lets create the subsequent pages first. To do so, we insert manual breaks in our document. Click on Insent/Manual Break…/ and select to insert a Page Break. As style for the page after the break choose the Index page style, tick on Change page number, and make sure the numbering starts from 1. Click OK. Proper documents start numbering from the Index page. The Index page is the page we put the Table of Contents, Table of Figures and so on.
  6. Make sure the cursor is on the new page with the Index style. We need to create a new page break, so that we can get writing the actual document. Click on Insert/Manual Break…/ and select a Page Break. As style for the page after the break you can choose Default. Leave any page numbering settings as is because it inherits from before. Click OK.
  7. Now, to view what we have achieved, let’s go to Print Preview, and choose to see four pages at a time. We can see the first page, another page which is intentionally left blank, the Index page and the Default page. Close Print preview and return to the document.
  8. Now let’s go back to the first page. We want to put the title on the first page. Nothing extravagant, at least yet. What we do is we visit the Paragraph styles and find the Title style. While the cursor is on the first page at the start, we double-click on the Title style. The cursor moves the the center of the document and we can verify that the Title paragraph style has been applied; see on the right of the Styles and Formating icon on the top-left of the Writer window. Shall we write the title of the document now? Not so fast. We can insert the title as a field, because we already wrote it in the properties at the beginning in Step 2. Click Insert/Fields/Title.
  9. Now press Enter; the cursor moves down and it somehow automatically changes to the Subtitle style. Styles in OpenOffice allow you to choose a Next style (a followup style) and in this case, when someone presses Enter on the Title style, they get a new paragraph in the Subtitle style. While in the line/paragraph with Subtitle style, click on Insert/Field…/Subject. Fields in OpenOffice.org appear with a dark gray background; this does not appear in printing, it is just there to help you identify where the fields are.
  10. Now lets move to the last page, the page with Default style and write something. Select the Heading 1 paragraph style and type Introduction. Press enter and you notice that the next style is Text body. Text body is the natural paragraph style for text in Writer (most documents have the default Default paragraph style which is wrong). Now write something in Text Body such as I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer. Copy the line and paste several times so that we get a nice paragraph of at least five lines. Make sure when pasting that after a full stop there should be a single space, then the new sentence starts.
  11. Press Enter and now we are ready to add a new heading. Type Writing documents and set the Heading 1 paragraph style. Press Enter and fill up a paragraph with more of I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer.
  12. Press Enter and create a new section (add a Heading 2, name it Writing documents in style and fill up a corresponding paragraph).
  13. Press Enter and create a last section (add a Heading 1, name it Conclusion, and fill up a corresponding paragraph style).
  14. Now we are ready to place the cursor at the Index page we created before, and go for the Table of Contents. Click on Insert/Indexes and Tables/Indexes and Tables. The default index type is Table of Contents. We keep the default settings and click OK. We get a nice looking table of contents.
  15. At this stage we have a complete basic document, with first page, index page and default page.

The next set of steps include more polishing and adding extra elements to our document.

  1. The text body style is configured to have the left alignment by default. Normally, one would select paragraphs and click on a paragraph alignment button on the toolbar to change the alignment. Because we are using styles, we can modify the Text Body style to have another alignment, and presto the whole document with text in the same style follow suit. In the Styles and Formating dock, at the paragraph styles tab, select the Text Body style. Right-click on the Text Body style and choose to Modify style. Find the Alignment tab and choose Justified as the new alignment for Text Body paragraphs. Click Ok and observe the document changing to the new configuration.
  2. It is nice to the section numbers on the headings, such as 2.1 Writing documents in style. To do this, we need to change the default outline numbering. Click on Tools/Outline numbering… and select to modify the numbering for all levels (under Level, click 1-10). Then, under the Numbering group, change the Number option from the default None to 1, 2, 3, …. Click OK and the number is changed in the document.
  3. Go back to the Table of Contents. You notice that the numbering format does not look nice; some section numbers are too close to the section names. To fix, right click on the gray area of the table of contents and select Edit Index/Table. In the new dialog box, select the Entries tab. Under Structure and Formatting you can see the structure of each line of line in the table of contents table. The button labeled E# is the placeholder for the chapter number. After that there is a placeholder that you can actually type text. In our case we simply click and press the space bar to add another space. We then click the All button and finally click OK. Now, all entries in the Table of contents will have a space between the chapter number and chapter title.
  4. In order to add a footer with the current page number, click on Insert/Footer and pick Index, then Default. Both the Index and the Default style of pages get to show page numbers. Then, place the cursor in the footer area and Insert/Field/Page Number. You can modify the Footer paragraph style so that the text alignment is centered. You have to insert the field in both an Index page and a Default page.
  5. The page number in the Index page is commonly shown in Roman lowercase numbers. How can we fix that? We simply have to modify the Index page style accordingly; click on the Page Styles tab in Styles and Formatting, click to modify the Index page style, and at the Page tab in Layout Settings select the i, ii, iii, … format. Click OK.
  6. It would be nice to have the title on the header of each page, either Index or Default. Click on Insert/Header and add a header for Index and Default. Then, place the cursor in the header for both styles and click to add the Title field (Insert/Field/Title). Would it be nice to put a line under the header? The header text has the Header paragraph style. In the Styles and Formatting, click the Paragraph styles tab and select the Header paragraph style. Right-click and choose to Modify. In the Borders tab enable a bottom line and click OK.

OpenOffice.org Writer in Style

You can download this sample document (.odt) from the link Using OpenOffice.org Writer.

I’ll stop here for now. There are more to put such as Table of Figures, Index of Tables and Bibliography.
It would be good to leave feedback if there is interest to work on this direction.

Update 15Mar2008: This appears to be a Farsi translation/adaptation of the article.

Localisation issues in home directory folders (xdg-user-dirs)

In new distributions such as Ubuntu 7.10 there is now support for folder names of personal data in your local language. What this means is that ~/Desktop can now be called ~/Επιφάνεια εργασίας. You also get a few more default folders, including ~/Music, ~/Documents, ~/Pictures and so on.

This functionality of localised home folders has become available thanks to a new FreeDesktop standard, XDG-USER-DIRS. xdg-user-dirs can be localised, and the current localisations are available at xdg-user-dirs/po.

A potential issue arises when a user logs in with different locales; how does the system switch between the localised versions of the folder names? For GNOME there is a migration tool; as soon as you login into your account with a different locale, the system will prompt whether you wish to switch the names from one language to another. This is available through the xdg-user-dirs-gtk application.

Another issue is with users who use the command line quite often; switching between two languages (for those languages that use a script other than latin) tends to become cumbersome, especially if you have not setup your shell for intelligent completion. In addition, when you connect remotely using SSH, you may not be able to type in the local language at the initial computer which would make work very annoying.

Furthermore, there have been reports with KDE applications not working; if someone can bug report it and post the link it would be great. The impression I got was that some installations of KDE did not read off the filesystem in UTF-8 but in a legacy 8-bit encoding. This requires further investigation.

Moreover, OpenOffice.org requires some integration work to follow the xdg-user-dirs standard; apparently it has its own option as to which folder it will save into any newly created files. I believe this will be resolved in the near future.

Now, if we just installed Ubuntu 7.10 or Fedora 8, and we got, by default, localised subfolders in our home directory (which we may not prefer), what can we do to revert to non-localised folders?

The lazy way is to logout, choose an English locale as the default locale for the system and log in. You will be presented with the xdg-user-dirs-gtk migration tool (shown above) that will give you the option to switch to English folder names for those personal folders.

Clarification: It is implied for this workaround (logout and login thing), you then log out again, set the language to the localised one (i.e. Greek) and log in. This time, when the system asks to rename the personal folders, you simply answer no, and you end up with a localised desktop but personal folders in English. Mission really accomplished.

If you are of the tinkering type, the files to change manually are

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.locale

el_GR

$

and

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

# This file is written by xdg-user-dirs-update
# If you want to change or add directories, just edit the line you’re
# interested in. All local changes will be retained on the next run
# Format is XDG_xxx_DIR=”$HOME/yyy”, where yyy is a shell-escaped
# homedir-relative path, or XDG_xxx_DIR=”/yyy”, where /yyy is an
# absolute path. No other format is supported.
#
XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR=”$HOME/Πρότυπα”
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR=”$HOME/δημόσιο”
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR=”$HOME/Έγγραφα”
XDG_MUSIC_DIR=”$HOME/Μουσική”
XDG_PICTURES_DIR=”$HOME/Εικόνες”
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR=”$HOME/Βίντεο”

Personally I believe that having localised names appear under the home folder is good for the majority of users, as they will be able to match what is shown in Locations with the actual names on the filesystem.

There will be cases that software has to be updated and bugs fixed (such as in backup tools). As we proceed with more advanced internationalisation/localisation support in Linux, it is desirable to follow forward, and fix problematic software.

However, if enough popular support arises with clear arguments (am referring to Greek-speaking users and a current discussion) for default folder names in the English languages, we could follow the popular demand.

Also see the relevant blog post New Dirs in Gutsy: Documents, Music, Pictures, Blah, Blah by Moving to Freedom.

GUADEC Day #2

(see http://www.guadec.org/schedule/warmup)

At the first presentation, Quim Gil talked about GNOME marketing, what have been done, what is the goal of marketing. He showed a focused mind on important marketing tasks; it is easy to get carried away and not be effective, a mistake that happens in several projects.

The next session was by Tomas Frydrych (Open Hand – I have their sticker on my laptop!) on memory use in GNOME applications. Many people complain that XYZ is bloated. However, this does not convey what exactly happens; pretty useless. In addition, the common tools that show memory use do not show the proper picture because of the memory management techniques. That is, due to shared libraries, the total memory occupied by an application appears very big. A tool examined is exmap. This tool uses a kernel module that shows memory use of applications by reading in /proc. It takes a snapshot of memory use; it’s not real-time info. It comes with a GTK+ front-end (gexmap) that requires a big screen (oops, PDAs). However, it is not suitable for internet tablets and other low-spec devices. Therefore, they came up with exmap-console which addresses the shortcommings. It has a console interface based on the readline library.

Here are the rest of my notes. Hope they make sense to you.

. exmap –interactive
. ?: help
. Head: quite useful (dynamic allocation)
. Mapped:
. Sole use: memory that app is using on its own (rss?)
. “sort vm”
. “print” or “p”
. “add nautilus”
. “clear”
. “detail file” (what executables/libs loaded and how much consume)
. “detail none”

Sole use
. valgrind, to analyse Sole Use memory?
. “detail ????”

Lots of small libraries: overhead

Looking ahead
. Pagemap: by Matt Macall
. http://projects.o-hand.com/exmap-console/

Python
. Sole use: ~18MB ;-(

Tomas was apparently running Ubuntu with the English UK locale. The English UK translation team is doing an amazing job at the translation stats. Actually, most messages are copied, however with a script one can pick up words such as organization and change to organisation. The problem here is that, for example, the GAIM mo file is 215KB (?), however for the British English translation the actual changes should be less than 2-3KB. Messages that are missing from a translation mean that the original US English messages will be used. I’ll have to find how to use msgfilter to make messages untranslated if msgid == msgstr. Where is Danilo?

After lunch time (did not go for lunch), I went to the Accerciser session. Pretty cool tool, something I have been look for. Accerciser uses the accessibility framework of GNOME in order to inspect the windows of running applications and see into the properties. A good use is to identify if elements such as text boxes come with description labels; they are important to be there for accessibility purposes (screen reader), as a person that depends on software to read (text to speech) the contents of windows.

The next session was GNOME accessibility for blind people. Jan Buchal gave an excellent presentation.

My notes,

. is from Chech republic, is blind himself. has been using computers for 20+ years

. from user perspective
. users, regular and irregular 😉
. software
. firefox 3.0beta – ok for accessibility other versions no
. gaim messenger ok
. openoffice.org ok but did not try
. orca screenreader ^^^ works ok.
. generally ready for prime time
. ubuntu guy for accessibility was there
. made joke about not having/needing display slides ;-]
. synthesizer: festival, espeak, etc – can choose
. availability of voices
. javascript: not good for accessibility
. links/w3m: just fine!
. firefox3 makes accessibility now possible.
. web designer education, things like title=””, alt=”” for images.
. OOo, not installed but should work, ooo-gnome
. “braillcom” company name
. “speech dispatcher”
. logical events
. have short sound event instead of “button”, “input form”
. another special sound for emacs prompt, etc.
. uses emacs
. have all events spoken, such as application crashing.
. problems of accessibility
. not money main factor, but still exists.
. standard developers do not use accessibility functions
. “accessor” talk, can help
. small developer group on accessiblity, may not cooperate well
. non-regular users (such as blind musician)
. musicians
. project “singing computer”
. gtk, did not have good infrastructure
. used lilypond (music typesetter, good but not simple to use)
. singing mode in festival
. use emacs with special mode to write music scores (?)
. write music score and have the computer sing it (this is not “caruso”)
. gnome interface for lilypond would be interesting
. chemistry for blind
. gtk+
. considering it
. must also work, unfortunately, on windows
. gtk+ for windows, not so good for accessibility
. conclusion: free accessibility
. need users so that applications can be improved
. have festival synthesizer, not perfect but usable
. many languages, hindi, finnish, afrikaans
. endinburgh project, to reimplement festival better
. proprietary software is a disadvantage
. q: how do you learn to use new software?
. a: has been a computer user for 20+ years, is not good candidate to say
. a: if you are dedicated, you can bypass hardles, old lady emacs/festival/lilypond
. brrlcom, not for end-users(?)
. developer problem?
. generally there is lack of documentation; easy to teach what a developer needs to know
. so that the application is accessible
. HIG Human Interface Guidelines, accessible to the developers
. “speakup” project
. Willy, from Sun microsystems, working on accessibility for +20 years, Lead of Orca.
. developers: feel accessibility is a hindrance to development
. in practice the gap is not huge
. get tools (glade) and gtk+ to come with accessibility on by default
. accessibility
. is not only for people with disabilities
. can do amazing things like 3d interfaces something

These summaries are an important example of the rule that during presentation, participants tend to remember only about 8% of the material. In some examples, even less is being recollected.

Firefox shortcuts in Linux on non-us keyboard layout, and Greek

You tried to use the common keyboard shortcuts in the Linux version of Firefox, with a keyboard layout other than us, and you realised they do not work. For example, Ctrl-C does not work when the Greek keyboard layout is active because Firefox receives Ctrl-Ψ (which is undefined).
This is a well-known problem affecting keyboard shortcuts in many languages.
How can someone solve the problem; Should Firefox for Linux be configured so that internally it would consider Ctrl-C and Ctrl-Ψ correspond to the same keyboard shortcut (perhaps in the language pack)? Well, the problem is that one would prefer a solution that is independent of the keyboard layout. You might be running a Greek localisation of Firefox with an active layout for Hindi.
The optimal solution is to have Firefox associate the keyboard shortcuts to physical keys (whatever that means) instead of the characters they are producing. Bug #69230/Mozilla has been there for quite some time although an acceptable solution is available in both GTK+ (GNOME) and OpenOffice.org. For example, in a GNOME application, both Ctrl-C and Ctrl-Ψ are equivalent.
So, what can we do now with the Linux versions of Firefox? Well, it is possible to write a Firefox extension that would intercept keys being pressed in a local layout and convert to the standard keyboard shortcuts Firefox likes.
Such a workaround is available for the Greek language, written by Athanasios Lefteris, at Mozilla και συντομεύσεις πληκτρολογίου σε Linux.
Currently the extension exists in the sandbox of the Mozilla add-ons, meaning that you are required to register (free) and also configure your profile to allow the view of sandboxed extensions (=in early stage of development, about to get accepted). It is desired to to try out the extension and write a short review. This will help to get the extension accepted as official add-on to the masses.

Many thanks to Athanasios!

p.s.
There is an existing Russian version of the extension. It is expected that other languages will follow.

Μη δομημένα κείμενα γραφείου

Αρκετές φορές προσπαθείτε να ανοίξετε ένα αρχείο .doc, που γράψατε (ή έγραψε κάποιος) σε Microsoft Word, και διαπιστώνεται ότι δεν φαίνεται σωστά από το OpenOffice.org. Εκτός από το πρόβλημα που η Microsoft για κάποιο λόγο δεν περιγράφει δημόσια το format .DOC (οπότε όλη η προσπάθεια ανάγνωσης από το ΟΟο είναι αποτέλεσμα reverse-engineering), υπάρχει το ζήτημα των μη δομημένων κειμένων γραφείου.
Συχνά, όταν θέλετε να φανεί μια λέξη πιο έντονα, την επιλέγετε με το ποντίκι και πατάτε το εικονίδιο για Έντονα. Αν θέλετε να αλλάξετε τη στοίχιση μιας παραγράφου, την επιλέγετε και πατάτε το αντίστοιχο εικονίδιο για τη στοίχιση. Για λίστες, όπως αριθμημένες, υπάρχει αντίστοιχο εικονίδιο. Στις κεφαλίδες αυξάνουμε το μέγεθος τις γραμματοσειράς και επιλέγουμε έντονα.
Όμως, αυτός είναι ένας πολύ κακός τρόπος γραφής κειμένων γραφείου διότι αυξάνει την πολυπλοκότητα του περιεχομένου του αρχείου, κάτι που δεν φαίνεται άμεσα με το μάτι. Πατώντας όλα αυτά τα εικονίδια προσθέτουμε στο κείμενο ειδικούς κώδικες με τον ένα να εξαρτάται από τον άλλο. Είναι τόση η πολυπλοκότητα που χτυπάει σε σπάνια ζητήματα υλοποίησης της σουΐτας γραφείου.

ΕνημέρωσηΠως να κάνετε τα κείμενά σας δομημένα.

Blog promoting OpenOffice.org, ODF, open-standards

An interesting blog that takes you through the developments of ODF in the standardisation process is http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/.

The first entry on the website is a static page; the second item is the newest entry, and so on.

Recent posts talked about the OpenXML attempt for “fast-track” standardisation and how several countries dealt with this on the national level.

The most recent item is about an agency in South Korea that adopts ODF.

Can you read Coptic?

Coptic is the most recent phase of ancient Egyptian. It is the direct descendant of the ancient language written in Egyptian hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts. The Coptic alphabet is a slightly modified form of the Greek alphabet, with some letters (which vary from dialect to dialect) deriving from demotic. As a living language of daily conversation, Coptic flourished from ca. 200 to 1100. The last record of its being spoken was during the 17th century. Coptic survives today as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Egyptian Arabic is the spoken and national language of Egypt today.

Source: Wikipedia on Coptic Language

Coptic, as used today, has signs of influence from the Greek language. If you speak Greek, you should be able to recognise every entry in the screenshot (it comes from the dictionary that is available from http://copticlang.bizhat.com/).

There is a Coptic Unicode block and there are at least three Unicode fonts available with Coptic glyphs.

I am not aware of a keyboard definition to write Unicode Coptic; Coptic uses several combining diacritical marks (accents) and appears to surpass even Ancient Greek/Polytonic in this respect. An easy way to create (easy to write with?) method would be to start from the Greek keyboard layout and replace the codepoints with the Coptic ones. For the 9 combining diacritical marks, three keys should be dedicated, accessible through 1) pressing as is, 2) pressing with shift, 3) pressing with Alt. To avoid using dead keys, there would be a requirement to type first the letter and then the diacritical mark.

In modern Greek we use the “;:” key (on the right of L) to produce the acute and the diaeresis (with Shift) accents. The second suitable key could be the ‘ ” key while the third the “/?” (debateable).

There are several efforts to convert non-Unicode fonts distributed by the Coptic Church. website. Moheb added the Coptic glyphs to the Freefonts. There is more work required to get them added by default to Linux distros. There is a discussion forum on Coptic.

Therefore, the most important task is to create a keyboard layout so that one can write in Unicode Coptic.

Then, existing (non-Unicode) text should be converted to Unicode Coptic so that there is material available. Moheb created support for this in iconv (glibc). There should be a bug report at http://sources.redhat.com/bugzilla/ under product glibc, component libc.

Source: Wikipedia (Coptic script)

There exist free Unicode fonts already to have the text displayed. The conversion of the Coptic Church fonts to Unicode would be beneficial as well. To have them included in Linux distros, the distribution license should be set to one of the FLOSS licenses. An option could be to add to the DejaVu fonts (allowed by the license) so that there is a general purpose open font that is easy to work with.

I, for one, would love to write Greek using a Coptic keyboard layout and a Coptic Unicode font. 🙂

Update: Screenshot that demonstrates how well Unicode Coptic fonts behave when combining marks are used.

Update #2: You can test the above on your system by opening this OpenDocument file using OpenOffice.org or any other OpenDocument-compatible application. OpenOffice.org was verified that it can show combining marks. Your mileage may vary, your comments will be appreciated.

Get Unicode fonts with Coptic coverage.