At the risk of beating a horse to death, today I stumbled on an
online rant against MS-Word.
While the entire blog is worth reading,
But in the mind of a reader who doesn't know better from personal
experience, it creates the impression that for example Wordperfect
("reveal codes") would use the same idiotic concept as Word. Or that
the very concept of an interactive document processing application
(as opposed to batch processing) was the problem. Or that "WYSIWYG" was
Which it isn't.
E.g. Wordperfect allows to do perfectly clean structured document
processing. To the point that there has been (still exists?) a
(schema-based, validating) XML editor that looks like a twin sibling of
Wordperfect to the end user (including the style editor that actually
generates DSSSL). It just never achieved the reliability required for
actual production use.
While there is absolutely *no way* whatsoever to do "structure markup"
with Word. I know what I am talking about, I've been using that
technique before I even heard of SGML (XML didn't even exist back then)
or LaTeX because it was evidently just the natural way to write
documents with a computer. And while I've successfully managed to use
it, besides with SGML (and later XML), LaTeX, Wordperfect, Framemaker
and roughly a dozen of others, with Word it just wouldn't work (and you
bet I *did* try).
So I can perfectly invalidate the statement in comment 52:
It also explains the slightly baffled "works for me" comments you
hear occasionally - if you only ever use styles, and if you have a
fully-worked-out policy on the use of styles, and if everyone sticks
to it, presumably there genuinely would be no problems.
No, with Word it just doesn't work. And when I tried this, I was
working in a sort of "clean Word environment" with me as the single
user. It can't work, technically.
Concerning statements like the one in 153:
If you define numbering as part of your styles (a feature that I have
found unbreakable in Word, particularly with Word's built-in heading
styles), long tech docs become extremely easy. And you get auto TOC
and tables of Figures/Tables for free. A 500-page tech manual with
numbered headings, numbered figures and lots of tables is a piece of
I can only say - WOW. What a stunning achievement. Numbering that
actually works. TOCs and LOFs that actually work. With 500-page
documents. This just blows me away.
And how is that achieved? By *blocking* "functionality". Well, maybe it
wasn't a good idea then to actually include that crap in the first
place. Or it should have been implemented differently. With a totally
different user interface.
First of all, a 500-page tech manual isn't a tech manual. It's a
manualette. Decent technical document authoring applications allow to
work with documents that have page numbers in the 10**5 order of
magnitude (as far as printing on paper is still releveant for tech
manuals of this size). Since the 80s. I've only been contributing to
things like this since the 90s. The "old hands" used to tell me about
e.g. Interleaf back then.
The statement in 154:
Doing the blended model was however never much of a debate within
Microsoft as the chief architect of Word, Charles Simony brought the
blended model with him from GUI word processors he had done at Xerox
This model is not perfect at all, as there are many cases for user
confusion, and having formatting tied to the "paragraph mark" can be
It's not confusing, it's just plain *wrong*, period.
And if that's not evident to anyone, then that individual shouldn't even
try to implement document processing software.
Libreoffice developers take note:
Nestable begin/end tags according to a structure definition
(schema/document class/template/whatever) is what is required to do
The problem is that we could never invent a better model back then in
the 90s (we tried), and nobody has been able to do it since either.
Strange that they couldn't do any better, because *every* other
document processing application I know of (except those who
mindlessly tried to parrot Word) did it "the other way" - and they
*all* got it right. Independently from each other, since "structure
markup" was "invented" in parallel by the people behind Wordperfect,
Framemaker, SGML, LaTeX and at least a dozen of other applications that
I have used myself.
The following statement in the same comment is just plain ridiculous:
Lastly, in many ways the Word architecture is optimal. You can't do a
word processing architecture any better. That is why nobody has
really tried in 20 years. In Word you can open a 200,000 page
document, and make 20 quick edits and save without it taking most of
No you can't. No one can. And no one has ever done it. And no one who
had the slightest bit of actual practical experience with Word would
even have the idea to try it. Not just because Word is hopelessly
unreliable, but because to generate the content for such a document you
necessarily need more than one author and if there's a single document
processing application that makes it strictly impossible to efficiently
collaborate on document authoring, it's Word.
I was particularly struck by the following, which describes precisely
my frustration with the design of the "one size fits all" office word
As someone who usually had the task to fix the mess that all the others
produced thanks to that unspeakable junk that Word is, I can only
underline the statement in comment 4:
The only solution is often to completely strip out all formatting,
paste into a clean document,
Yes, indeed. The absolutely *only* way to re-use content between Word
and Word is to "paste as raw text".
Between one and the same version of Word and for documents prepared by
perfectly style-disciplined authors using the very same template. Heck,
even for documents prepared by one and the same author.
But then you're better of using a plain text editor for the
contributors and anything else than MS Word for the final formatting.
Which obviously kills the pseudo-argument of "but we have to be
compatible with the others" that those braindead morons who have never
actually produced any usable document with this crap themselves always
Compatibility is about re-using content (Not about "I can double-click
it and it opens" like dimwitted clickdroids think). If re-use of
content is the most difficult compared to all other alternatives
(including heterogeneous solutions) if all contributors use the very
same product, then obviously compatibility is *the* reason *not* to use
In practice this is the most devastating consequence of Microsoft
products in a typical office environment:
The homogeneous use of Microsoft products makes efficient re-use of
content practically impossible. The more homogeneous, the worse it
gets. This only *seems* pervert, but imho it has its roots in the way MS
as a company "functions". Their product development is simply not
driven by competent screenworkers. Clueless careerists can't make useful
worktools for screenworkers. It's as simple and evident as that. Yes,
all *good* document processing applications I know of where initially
developed by end users.
In fact, everything in *all* Microsoft products I know of works exactly
the *wrong* way for a productive screenworker. Because those
"chief architects" and "product managers" or whatever they call
themselves think they are smarter than a proficient end-user and they
always screw it up beyond repair. Because they don't even have a clue
that they don't have a clue, so they don't even try to get a clue. They
are not even clueless, as Wolfgang Pauli would have called it.
Beyond starting with "concepts" that are fundamentally broken and
usually by far outdated already when version 1.0 comes out, and
violating even the most basic rules of ergonomics, they try to do all
kinds of obscure, opaque and untraceable "automation" behind the back
of the user and *against his/her will*. Fascist micromanagement cast
into software. And "you need not know", of course. Except that those MS
product managers obviously don't have the faintest clue of what an end
And with every release they make problems worse. Not just because they
pile up features, but because they make access to functionality ever
more obfuscated or even just *eliminate* *all* user interfaces to
The psychotic disconnection of the "deciders" behind Microsoft products
(within Microsoft as well as in corporations that use their crap) from
the reality of proficient screenworkers has probably become too evident
to ignore with Windows 8. The very first operating system in computer
history imho that makes it strictly impossible to get any useful work
And unfortunately, StarOffice, the ancestor of LibreOffice/OpenOffice
was implemented from the beginning intentionally as a perfect 1:1 clone
of Word, with all its sick dysfunctionalities.
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