DITA and XMetaL Discussion

XMetaL Community Forum DITA and XMetaL Discussion Adding Styles for Conditional Text

  • Stoobie

    Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    Participants 7
    Replies 8
    Last Activity 12 years, 5 months ago

    XMetaL has a limited number of styles available for styling conditional text. We have a large number of conditions, and have very quickly used up the list of colors that appears in the Style Conditional Text dialog.

    Is there a way to add colors? (If there's not, there should be–that's something I really miss in Framemaker and RoboHelp.)

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    I think our UI people must have assumed there were enough combinations. I count 600 in total based on 15 colors, 8 background colors and 5 styles but a lot of those combinations might be dismissed as unusable based on personal preferences and things like the fact that you probably don't want yellow text on tan for example.

    What you are asking for is possible to do today, in theory (I know for sure it is technically possible). However, the amount of work and the potential to break things is fairly high as quite a few different files need tweaking. The tricky part is that the way this is currently coded requires the values one might select in this dialog to sync up with the CSS that is used to style the document and due to the nature of how CSS works for DITA there a lot of different CSS files and possibly a few other things to take into account.

    So, I think at this point I would prefer to take this as a feature request and ask our developers to go and redesign this dialog and the way the CSS is pushed into the document in a different way. With some new APIs we have available in our newest releases it might even be possible to allow someone to arbitrarily select any possible color value from a color picker dialog (we can now inject CSS strings into the rendering engine from script rather than hard coding them into CSS files). I'll make those suggestions to development and hope they can come up with something in a release that is not too far away.

    Reply

    Stoobie

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for getting back to me. I've been using XMetaL for about a year now, and this is the first time I thought to submit comments/ask for help via the forums. I'm really happy to know that someone on your team is listening and is so responsive. It encourages me to write more.

    Here's my perspective on the available conditional styling:

    • I pretty much can't use the Format styling, except for the overline and possibly double-underline, because using the other styles would hide any bold, italic, or underline text in my content. I mean, if I have Bold as a conditional style, then how do I know if I have made any text inside that conditional block bold?
    • The overline and underline styles make my text difficult to read, so I avoid them if at all possible

    So that leaves me with preferred styles using text or highlight colors, and you're correct about not wanting any combinations like yellow with tan. In general, the lighter colors are difficult to see, so they're out, and other colors are sometimes painful to see. And I try to limit my conditional style to either highlight color or text color, but not a combination of both, because that makes it easy to identify when I have multiple conditions applied to a block of text.

    Ideally, I would be able to use a color picker, and also, ideally, I would be able to share my conditional styles with anyone else on my team. I understand that it's possible to do so with the file C:Documents and SettingsuseridApplication DataSoftQuadXMetaL6.0ct_preferences.xml, but it would be nice to have this available in a more user-friendly way. Although since it does exist now, I would classify this last request as nice-to-have, while having more conditional styling available as a high.

    Ideally, when I roll over the conditional block of text, a tooltip would popup saying the conditions that are applied to that block.

    Also, from a usability point of view, it would be much easier for me to have conditions and their styles alway available as a pallette, like the Element List, so I don't have to keep making the dialog pop up in order to apply conditions. It really messes up my train of thought the way it's implemented right now.

    This might not be the best place for this, but in general, I really wish that XMetaL was a whole lot more like Dreamweaver. They got so much right with their interface that XMetaL could really learn from. For example, the Element List could be improved greatly by simply making it so that I can add an element by just clicking the element name, instead of having to click it and then click Apply. Ideally, that would be the default behavior, with Change still available as it is now. I could decide if I want the default behavior when clicking an element be either Apply or Change.

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    Thanks for this, it is all good feedback.

    One quick note about the Element List: You can double click to insert an element, so the Apply button is not needed in that case. Or if you prefer you can use the keyboard to access the Element List, then the first letter of the element you wish to insert (multiple times if multiple elements have the same first letter, or use the arrow keys, and finally pressing Enter inserts the element.

    Reply

    Stoobie

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I do use the keyboard as well. In my case, I try to avoid double-clicking because it hurts my wrist if I double-click a lot, and when I'm working in XMetaL, there's a lot of clicking (so I try to use the keyboard as much as possible.) A lot of times, I'll click on an element and then hit enter to insert/change. Sometimes I'll do what you suggested and hit the first letter of the element and then use the up/down arrows to get to it.

    A single-click would be much easier for me.

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    I could see us adding an option for single-clicking.

    The current behavior was designed so that the “long description” of the element appears at the bottom of the Element List when you single-click. I'm not sure how many people use that feature, but likely we would keep that the default functionality with single-click needing to be enabled. Some clients customize things to include very descriptive messages for elements in their schema.

    Reply

    santhoshkumarr

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    How about using macros for the frequently used elements?
    For example:
    Alt +  E = uicontrol
    Alt + Q = em dash
    Ctrl + Shift + U = user input
    and so on…

    Reply

    Stoobie

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    The current behavior was designed so that the “long description” of the element appears at the bottom of the Element List when you single-click.

    The long description is a helpful feature. You could make it so that a mouseover, instead of a single-click, triggers the long description, and then a single-click applies it.

    Reply

    Stoobie

    Reply to: Adding Styles for Conditional Text

    How about using macros for the frequently used elements?

    Yes, I agree. I do that too. That's the best way to speed things up when I use a particular few elements a lot. But in general, I use so many different elements that trying to remember all the keyboard macros I might make would be difficult.

    Reply

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