OO.o Math, Usability suggestions

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OO.o Math, Usability suggestions

Bugzilla from antti.aspinen@gmail.com
Hello!

I am using OpenOffce.Org Math with Writer for taking notes at classes.
So far it has been very good to me and cheap way to replace very
costly commercial applications for taking math notes. It's also much
better in many ways that most of these high profile mathematic note
applications. One such good point is speed. It's so fast that I can
actually write almost everything as fast as I would with pen and paper
during the class.

However as much as I like it, it has these few irritating usability
problems. And I feel that not much development has been made with
these issues over the course of few years I've been using Math. So I
want to lift them up now and talk about these things...

1. When you add new math equation in writer it creates spaces around
equation box which you cannot take out. Make equation box more equal
to characters. When you create box it should automatically add common
spaces around it which you can then edit out if you want.

1.1 Besides do we even need an "equation box"? It would be much
simpler if we would be able to have enable "equation code tags" button
and when you do so everything which has <equation> ... </equation>
tags around it would be treated as OO.o equation code. It makes you
use less mouse and more keyboard and makes using of Math faster.

1.2 I've added "add equation box" button to my toolbar but it's
annoying to use. And I've tried to find good keyboard shortcut for it
but it's always blocking some other function. Can you think of any
good keyboard shortcut for this?

1.3 Adding formula box was really slow before 3.2.0. But now it's fast
and that is really nice. Thank you.

2. You always have to have something on other sides of = or it will
add question mark and it looks annoying. = is not only sum does this
also and some other characters. You also cannot add "apply to all"
symbol "something | cdot x" for example. Or at least there aren't good
way to do it. Or when teachers write on black board and I have to make
"lots of stuff newline = more stuff" it adds lots of red ??? and I
have to make separate = outside the equation boxes sometimes but I
usually just write it as really long pipe of equations. It's just
annoying to read and to keep up which phase was done and why.

3. It doesn't create automatically pairs for brackets like ( [ {, it
would make this application a lot faster if you had to write only one
( and it would automatically fill in ) and place cursor middle of the
( ). Something similar is used in NetBeans IDE. Check it out.

3.1 It also doesn't check out if there are equal amount of brackets.
This would be helpful to keep up with the stuff. It becomes really
hard to follow when I have to write things like "{{{({2^{n}} over
{x-2^{n}}-4)}} over {({{x-1^{n}} over {x cdot 2^{n}}}-2)}} = q"
multiple times. Get my drift? Maybe adding colors to editor so that (
would be blue, [ orange and { red to help to make it more readable
code.

3.1.1 Adding ability to input colors into code would be great help
also the other way around when you could see colors not only in code
editor but also in the end result at Writer page. I would use it to
highlight important parts within large equations.

4. Get rid of the equation code (/ "formula elements") toolbox and
integrate it into toolbar. It is major usability problem because it
acts different from rest of the OpenOffice.org applications. It can be
done with tabs. It should be just integrated into toolbar as it is so
that it's not window floating around and getting in a way of the other
work you're doing. I know this is how stuff usually behaves on Mac OS
X but it's just annoying and I usually close them because they just
feel out of place. Apple's HIG is not perfect even if they claim
otherwise. GIMP has had years really good way to integrate lots of
stuff into small toolbars.

4.1 Why second (right) mouse button reveals menu which is not
implemented into Math menubar? I understand it's faster to use that
way but it was just weird and I always actually forget to use it when
I am on my laptop writing stuff. It's really good but I just don't use
it because it's not handy.

4.1.2 I think it's annoying that when you have that menu and it has
these really long lists of different equations/formulas but then in
that menu for some reason you have decided to shorten functions menu
by making another menu under it called "more". What's the point in
that when for example "attributes" menu is clearly as long if not
longer.

4.2 When you use math formula box and insert math code into there it
leaves <?> to places you're supposed to fill out. It's very annoying
that if you add it and then you have {{<?>} over {<?>}} only one area
correctly chosen. If you double click with mouse the other side it
selects {<?>} instead of just <?>. I end up accidentally deleting the
other side that way usually few times during the class. And then I
have to write them by hand. Writing divisions by hand is faster anyway
but it wouldn't hurt to fix this.

5. Simple in-line calculator might be nice. Nothing full blown with
bells and whistles I have better calculator for highly complex
equations. And while this is not necessary it would be nice to have
automatic answers for simple calculations like writing 1/2 + 2/7 and
after writing = Math would suggest automatically 0,6... or whatever
that is as the end gray tone similar to IDEs or Mathematica. Or you
could ask it to suggest answer. Nothing too "boy scout" a-like please
if you start considering this.


I am sorry for any misunderstandings here. My english might not be
good enough to describe all the things here like I intended them. Even
so I sincerely hope that some development will happen now. Math needs
to start going forwards instead of being as it is. I hope this starts
a conversation which ends up OO.o Math and Writer being improved so
that it's easier and faster and generally more usable during classes.

Thank you for this great application! :)

--
-Antti-

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