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[libreoffice-users] Document hierarchy and Indexing [as applied to LO Guides]


A confusing difference in presentation models between some LO Guides
(Calc, GettingStarted) -- call these "Group A"
and others:
(Base, Draw, Impress, Writer[*w*]) -- "Group B"
prompts:
(1) A look at the different ways the hierarchical styles are handled, and
(2) A question (concluding, below) about Writer's default styles.


(1) LO Guides hierarchical styles
=================================

All LO Guides use style "Title" for Chapter titles, but only group B assigns "Title" as Outline (hierarchy) Level 1, with subsequent Heading 1, etc, demoted from Writer's default; that is:
Level 1 ~ Title
Level 2 ~ Heading 1
Level 3 ~ Heading 2
Level 4 ~ Heading 3 [and also Heading 4 - a potential hazard]

Group A accepts Writer's default Outline (hierarchy) assignments:
Level 1 ~ Heading 1
Level 2 ~ Heading 2
Level 3 ~ Heading 3
...
with style "Title" having no Outline role, assigned to hierarchical value "Text body".

This means that, for group A, the Chapter titles /do not show up/ in the Navigator view or in PDF Bookmarks, which make navigating those documents tedious and somewhat bewildering. OTOH, for group B, the Navigator view and corresponding PDF Bookmarks are fully hierarchical, making those documents much easier to navigate.

([*w*] The Writer Guide is a special case: while fully hierarchical and thus easy to navigate in theory, the bookmarks were not exported to the PDF file, and so there are no PDF Bookmarks - a shame, but easily fixable from the downloadable ODT file.)

However, group A and group B documents all have indexed Table of Contents (ToC). The difference between their constructions is:

* Group A's ToC format is only two-level, using the option "Create from: Additional Styles", assigning:
- "Title" (which has Outline value "Text body") to level 1 and
- "Heading 1" (which has Outline value "Level 1") to level 2.
But because of:
- the lack of level 1 in PDF bookmarks,
- the lack of sub-levels in the ToC, and
- the constant shifting of hierarchy levels between ToC and PDF Bookmarks,
navigation of those documents is needlessly tiring and frustrating.

* Group B's ToC, OTOH, goes as deep as the document itself, and matches the Navigator and PDF Bookmarks, because its ToC is indexed using the default "Create from: Outline" rather than "Create from: Additional styles". Navigating those documents is easy.

This analysis, such as it is, seems to point to a preference; I like easy and consistent. However, in this case, the ease and consistency of Group B come from /redefining Writer's default hierarchy style assignments/ for Levels 1..3 ("Heading 1", "Heading 2", "Header 3") -- defaults which themselves provide a simple consistency -- in order to put style "Title" at Outline Level 1. Moreover, that approach does those hierarchy reassignments by disconnecting those styles from their normal "Heading" root style, and leaving both "Header 3" and "Header 4" at Outline Level 4. So I'm not convinced that Group B's solution is a good answer, either.

Obviously the "easy" answer is to merge the approach of Group A (keeping Writer's style defaults) and Group B (keeping Writer's indexing defaults) by the simple expedient of using style "Heading 1" (rather than "Title") for Chapter titles, "Heading 2" and so on for hierarchical sub-headings. Then the ToC is simple, the Navigator is happy, and PDF Bookmarks are complete -- all by simply following the defaults. But LO's own Guides chose a different approach (well, two different approaches), and I'm not sure that I'm qualified to critique either of those alternatives. That leads to:


(2) A question about Writer's default styles
============================================

A newbie to Writer's styles [we all were, once] is likely to appreciate the simplicity of the sequence "Heading 1" .. "Heading 10" (all based on style "Heading" (which itself has no hierarchy value)) for organizing documents. That approach provides such simple clarity that, even when making custom hierarchical styles, one is inclined to follow that same model. The same newbie, though, might then wonder, What is the point of styles "Title" and "Subtitle" in a structured document?

It seems clear that the ToC indexing exception for "Create from: Additional styles" (rather than "Create from: Outline") was made to accommodate just such situations as using "Title" for Level 1 -- but why? After using OO, then LO, for years, I had almost forgotten those newbie questions [made all the more awkward by the fact that the GettingStarted and Writer Guides lack PDF Bookmarks], but a recent return to the Guides forced me to recall those early questions... and realize I still lack good answers.

Is this a case of developers responding to feature requests run amok (perhaps without considering all the ramifications)? [After all, there is no Navigator equivalent to the indexing exception for "Additional styles", so there is an inevitable logical and structural disconnect from using those indexing exceptions.] Or is there some functional benefit from the default "Title" and "Subtitle" styles -- which have no default inheritance -- used in the Outline hierarchy, by changing their default definitions?

FWIW, as I read the indexing defaults, there is also a "Title" function (corresponding to the "Title" style?) for the whole document, which stands above the document chapters and would also be applied to the ToC Title. That -- standing outside the document hierarchy -- seems to be an appropriate role for "Title" and "Subtitle" styles.

Finally: Even if they came about by unrestrained (and maybe dubiously motivated) feature requests, it's clear that removing these features is not a good idea at this point (when many documents may depend on them). But is it a recommended practice (to be used by the LO Guides) to make use of these style exceptions? [I don't presume to understand the structure considerations better than those who have been doing them, but would like to contribute to the Guides.]


I regret that this post is so long, but I /think/ it belongs in this forum,
John

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Re: [libreoffice-users] Document hierarchy and Indexing [as applied to LO Guides]Robert Gro├čkopf <robert@familiegrosskopf.de>
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