The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67222   Message #1124546
Posted By: JohnInKansas
26-Feb-04 - 02:43 PM
Thread Name: Tech: Alternatives to Office and Word
Subject: RE: Tech: Alternatives to Office and Word
The Villan -

For the "take a look at the code" comment:

This web site posts html. Even though you type plain text (more or less) in the input box, it gets "coded" to html before it hits the screen. If you right-click in a blank area of the screen, one of the options is "view source." That will open a new window with the "html" code for the page visible. This "source" page is what's actually received by your machine when you open the thread.

Until fairly recently, we all had to type the line breaks, using <br> tags at the end of each paragraph. The site has been upgraded so that it recognizes paragraph breaks automatically, but quite a few other things still have to be "coded" in your post box.

The 'cat doesn't generally recognize the typeface size, or italics or bold, in what you post. Everything displays at a default size and in "plain text" unless you use html tags to specify something different. There are exceptions here, but you have to "code" this sort of stuff to get reliable results.

You should not use the <, >, or & characters in a post, since these are html "defined control characters" that may trick the interpreter into thinking that you're inserting a "tag" to tell it to do something fancy. If you want to use one of these as a literal character, you need to code them as &gt; &lt; and &amp;.

HTML display doesn't generally recognize tabs, and generally collapses repeated spaces, so you can't "align columns" by putting in multiple spaces. You can put in nonbreaking spaces, using &nbsp; or &#160; "character codes" but each reader gets to chose what font to use for display, so some may be using proportional and some fixed character width and they will get different results.

If you use a <pre> tag at the beginning of some text, and a </pre> tage at the end, that text will be displayed as "preformatted" text. This means that spaces will not be collapsed and that the text will be displayed in a monospace font. Each person who reads it gets to chose what monospace font, but at least all the characters will be the same width, so columns will align like what you set up if you used a monospace font when you aligned them.

You can also "align" things by coding tables, but that gets into more complex html than should probably be discussed here. There are several helpful threads in the FAQ and PermaThread sections you can access back on the main "Lyrics and Knowledge" page. There are also a few "html practice" threads where you can try out stuff, or you can just view a "practice post" on your own machine. (Save as text from your wordprocessor, and change the file extension to htm. If you save directly as .htm, Word, especially, tries to "correct and convert" what you typed. Open in your own browser). The practice threads are edited to delete older stuff, so they stay at reasonable length.

Word Shortcuts: In some earlier versions of Word, it always seemed to me that it was ridiculously difficult to find the "shortcuts" info in Word Help, but recent versions lay it all out if you enter "keyboard" in the Help "Index," "Search," or "Help Wizard." Note also that you are perfectly free, in Word, to create your own "quick keys" or to change the ones that are supplied as defaults, and you need not fear doing so since all versions of Word have a "restore defaults" button. (See Help.)

Mickey$oft has recognized that people who use Word Perfect have a real difficulty understanding how you can get by without all that "arcane code stuff," so all recent versions of Word have a separate choice on the Help menu called "Word Perfect Help." (Quick keyed Alt-H,P in most versions.) Numerous settings can be changed, if you really want to, to make Word behave and look much more like what you're accustomed to in Word Perfect.

One of the difficulties for many new users of Word comes from the attempt to provide "every possible help for idiots." There are many "features" that allow Word to "help" those who can't spell, or who use "bad grammar" etc., and far too many of them (IMHO) are turned on by the default settings. Nearly all of the obnoxious stuff can be turned off in Tools - Options, and in Tools - Autocorrect Options, just by "unchecking" the boxes. You can make Word do, or not do almost anything that suits your preferences.