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  • Tuesday, 26 May 2015
    LibreOffice Cambridge Hackfest (Comments)


    The first ever UK LibreOffice Hackfest took place in the city of Cambridge on May 21st to 23rd (Thursday → Saturday), kindly hosted by Collabora.

    My starter idea was to fix tdf#90315, i.e. to support both nested tables and multiple columns with the proper spacing in between them in the RTF import. For comparison, here is how this looked in LibreOffice 3.4:


    The table borders looked OK due to correct column spacing, but the nested table is missing. Then here is the LibreOffice 4.4 state:


    Nested table is OK, but the table borders are strange due to incorrect column spacing. Finally here is how it looks like now, when the import result is correct:


    Other than this, here is a list of other topics I hacked on:

    After fixing two more less interesting regressions, now it seems we’re down to 0 for the regressions having RTF in their summary, which is promising. :-)

    I few pictures I took while punting and a panorama is available, too.

  • Monday, 18 May 2015
    Protocols Plugfest Europe 2015 (Comments)

    (via plugfestcon)

    Last week I went to Zaragoza to give a talk on how LibreOffice handles interoperability at Protocols Plugfest Europe 2015 on Tuesday. Although I was told this conference is a successor of the previous Zentyal Summit (and I were not there) the conference seemed well-attended — proof above. :-)

    Jacobo also gave a LibreOffice-related talk on Wednesday.

    On the same day, there were some explicit spare time, so I took the opportunity to walk in the historical parts of the city, see my photos and a panorama if that kind of pictures are of your interest. FWIW, Hotel Sauce has free wifi in the rooms, that’s kind of impressing for a two-star category. ;-)

    As usual, thanks Collabora for sponsoring this travel!

  • Sunday, 03 May 2015
    MathType import in the RTF and DOCX filter (Comments)

    TL;DR: Import of old-style (pre-2010 for RTF, pre-2007 for DOCX) math equations embedded into text documents should be now imported as editable embedded math objects.

    Longer version: if you want to embed math equations into RTF or DOCX files, you have two choices. The older approach is to embed a MathType OLE object into the file, the newer one is a native OOXML markup, which has an RTF markup equivalent as well. Handling of the later has been implemented by Luboš Luňák for DOCX a long time ago, and I contributed the RTF equivalent almost 3 years ago.

    What remains is the handling of the older version, the embedded OLE object. Previously only the replacement graphic was imported, so regardless of the Tools → Options → Load / Save → Microsoft Office → MathType to Math checkbox, the result was never editable.

    Here is how it looks like now:


    Given that the RTF and the DOCX importers share lots of code in the writerfilter/ module, I implemented the same for the DOCX import at the same time, too. The interesting challenge was that writerfilter wants an XFilter implementation for the embedded object if it is to be handled internally by LibreOffice, but the MathType filter (originally created to handle math objects inside binary DOC files) didn’t have one. Once I implemented such a filter wrapper, the rest wasn’t too hard.

    Here are test documents if you want to try it yourself. You’ll need a 5.0 daily build for that, though. ;-)

    If I’m at describing features new in LibreOffice Writer 5.0 file filters, here are a few more:

    And a number of bugfixes for the RTF filter:

    • tdf#86182 better RTL paragraph handling

    • tdf#80708 related to the improved old-style Writer table export handling work

    • tdf#90421 hyperlink export tweak

    Do these sound interesting? Look at what others did for LibreOffice 5.0 on the TDF wiki, even if it’s far from complete, as the 5.0 branch is not yet created. :-)

  • Tuesday, 21 April 2015
    Open IT 2015 (Comments)


    On Saturday I gave a talk at the Open IT 2015 conference about the new features of LibreOffice 4.3 and 4.4. My uploaded slides are available here.

    Thanks Óbuda University for hosting us, it was a great event! Other than talking to the usual suspects like Tamás Zolnai or Gábor Kelemen, I enjoyed two OpenStreetMap talks: it was extermely cool to hear that finally the turistautak.hu community changed their license in February so that all their free maps can be imported to OpenStreetMap — finally one pointless fight ends.

  • Friday, 17 April 2015
    Open Source Budapest 5. meetup (Comments)

    On Tuesday the 5th Open Source Budapest meetup was held, I was one of the invited speakers, and gave a lightning talk about ged2dot, both as a standalone Python script and as a LibreOffice extension.

    My uploaded slides are available here.

  • Thursday, 02 April 2015
    Android editing: from graphic handling to formatting (Comments)

    In from selections to graphic handling, I wrote about how we let the LibreOffice Android app select, resize and move images and shapes. Now that we have all type of selections (at least for Writer) in this TDF-funded project, let’s do some formatting! The example implemented by Jan Holesovsky here is to mark the text bold, but you can imagine that using the same technique a number of other character or paragraph properties could be set the same way with little work.

    Here is how it works:

    • When you click on toolbar buttons on the desktop UI, so-called UNO commands are invoked, bold is .uno:Bold.

    • This command is generated by the native Android UI as well, and passed to the lok::Document::postUnoCommand() LOK API.

    • Then the LOK implementation uses the recently introduced comphelper::dispatchCommand() internal API to actually execute it.

    • In all applications (Writer, Calc, Draw and Impress) this command is then evaluated on the current selection: so if you have a cursor position, then from now on the new characters will be bold — or if you have a selection, then that will be adjusted. The point is that this works exactly how it happens with the desktop UI, reusing the same code.

    If you are interested how this looks like, here is a demo (click on the image to see the video):

    Notice that Calc also gained a number of new features, like cell selection, blinking cursor, text selection with much help from Henry Castro.

    Now that Writer is nearly functional for the basic editing features that would be good to see in all four applications, time to look at what’s new in Impress-land!

    To bring Impress in line with Writer, we implemented the followings with Tomaž Vajngerl:

    • shape text now has a blinking cursor with a cursor handle that can be dragged

    • long push on a word results in a shape text selection with selection handles that can be dragged

    • it’s now possible to resize shapes

    • Impress table selections can be created in two ways: either by long pushing on an empty Impress table cell, or by long pushing on shape text inside a cell, and then turning that shape text selection into a table one.

    • it’s possible to tap on a selected shape without text to add text to it.

    Here is a demo to show this in action:

    For many of the above features, the core part was already implemented due to Writer shapes, what was missing is to call the same editeng methods from Impress and/or do missing core coordinates → LOK coordinates conversions. The later is twips for both cases in Writer, but Impress works in 100th millimeters internally, so it was necessary to do a number of conversions here and there so that LOK callbacks always emit coordinates in twips.

    We also prepared more in-depth technical documentation about the Android editing work, libreofficekit/README and android/README now has much more details about how exactly the editing works.

    That’s it for now — as usual the commits are in master (a few of them is only in feature/tiled-editing for now), so you can try this right now, or wait till the next Tuesday and get the Android daily build. :-)

  • Thursday, 19 March 2015
    Android editing: from selections to graphic handling (Comments)

    In from input handling to selections, I wrote about how we let LibreOffice Android app draw the selections around text content natively. A next step in this TDF-funded project is to provide selections around more UI elements: images and shapes.

    Here are a number of challenges we (Tomaž Vajngerl and me) faced while we implemented this:

    • On Linux (the desktop), the move and resize operations are really similar: if you click near a resize handle (you "hit it"), then it’ll be a resize, otherwise it’ll be a move. Defining "near" means that you don’t have to click exactly at the center of the handle, but we allow some tolerance. Turns out that the tolerance depended on the pixel size of the handle drawn on the desktop: and because we don’t package the bitmaps of the desktop UI, that tolerance was 0.

    • Writer normally requires a click and a double-click to start editing shape text. One to select the shape and another to actually start the text editing. Instead of literally translating this to a tap and a long push, we wanted to start text editing right away if the user tapped on shape text.

    • Shape text doesn’t use the normal Writer text, but editeng — used by Impress and Calc, too. So we had to instrument the editeng module as well to expose the blinking cursor, so that if you tap inside the editeng text, you have some feedback where you are. Same is true for the cursor handle: once we knew where the cursor is, we could draw the cursor handle, but dragging it did nothing: now the setTextSelection() LOK API handles the case when the cursor is inside editeng text and can adjust the cursor position there, too.

    • On Linux, users got used to the following resize behavior: when images are resized, the aspect ratio is kept, but this is not the case for shapes. We wanted to keep this behavior on Android, too.

    If you are interested how this looks like, here is a demo (click on the image to see the video):

    Notice how the word selection in a table turns into a table selection, or how a long push inside an empty cell creates a selection containing only the empty cell.

    An other direction we’re working towards is to show / hide the soft keyboard of Android as you would expect it. On Linux, it’s easy: the keyboard is always available. However on Android you should track when it makes sense to use the keyboard and when not — and show/hide automatically according to the context. Examples:

    • When you tap inside text, we show the keyboard.

    • When you finish editing, we hide it.

    • When you start scrolling, we hide it.

    • When you select an image, we hide it.

    Additionally, we need to handle the situation when this automagic goes wrong. The Android soft keyboard has a button to hide itself, but we added a toolbar button to force-show it, too (click on the image to see the video):

    Finally, Siqi Liu added a new callback type, allowing to tap on hyperlinks and handle them according to how you configured URL handling on your Android device. Here is a demo to show this in action:

    That’s it for now — as usual the commits are in master (a few of them is only in feature/tiled-editing for now), so you can try this right now, or wait till the next Tuesday and get the Android daily build. :-)

  • Saturday, 14 March 2015
    Document Liberation Project regression testing (Comments)


    Earlier I wrote about my setup to hack libvisio. One missing bit was testing the contributed code. Testing can be performed at various levels, so far DLP libraries were tested by recording the output of the various foo2raw tools and then comparing the current output to some previously known good state. This has a number of benefits:

    • If you know that the current state is good, then there is no need write testcases, you can just record your state automatically.

    • Any change in the output fill signal instant failure, so it gives pretty good test coverage.

    The same technique was used in LibreOffice for Impress testcases initially, however we saw a drawback there: Being automatically generated, you have no control over what part of the output is important and what part is not — both parts are recorded and when some part changes, you have to carefully evaluate on a case by case basis if the change is OK or not. The upshot is that from time to time you just end up regenerating your reference testsuite and till the maintainer doesn’t do that, everyone can only ignore the test results — so it doesn’t really scale.

    In short, both techniques have some benefits, but given that the libvisio test repo is quite empty, I thought it’s a good time to give an other method (what we use quite successfully in LO code) a go, too. This method is easy: instead of recording the whole output of some test tool, output a structured format (in this case XML), and then just assert the interesting part of it using XPath. Additionally, these tests are in libvisio.git, so you can nicely put the code change and the testcase in the same commit. So the hope is that this is a more scalable technique:

    • Provided that make distcheck is ran before committing, you can’t forget to clone and run the tests.

    • Writing explicit assertions means that it’s rarely needed to adjust existing tests. Which is a good thing, as there are no tests for the tests, so touching existing tests should be avoided, if possible. ;-)

    • Having testcase + code change in the same commit is one step closer to the dream e.g. the git.git guys do — they usually require documentation, code and test parts in each patchset. :-)

    Technically this method is implemented using a librevenge::RVNGDrawingInterface implementation that generates XML. For now, this is part of libvisio, so in case you want to re-use it in some other DLP library, you need to copy it to your import library, though if indeed multiple importers start to use it, perhaps it’ll be moved to librevenge. The rest of the test framework is a simple testsuite runner and a cppunit TestFixture subclass that contains the actual test cases.

    So in case you are planning how to test your import library, then now you have two options, evaluate them and choose what seems to be the better tool for your purpose.

  • Friday, 27 February 2015
    Tiled editing: from input handling to selections (Comments)

    In from a living document to input handling, I wrote about how we handle touch and on-screen keyboard events in the LibreOffice Android app. A next step in this TDF-funded project is to provide more UI elements which are specific to touch devices: selections is one of them.

    Here are the problems we had to solve to get this working:

    • Long push is not an event core would recognize.

    • If you use the mouse and have a selection in Writer, it’s only possible to extend the end of it. If you use the keyboard, then it’s possible to shrink the end of it, but still no adjustment of the start. On touch devices, it’s natural to have selection handles at the start and end of the selection and be able to adjust both, in both directions.

    • Additionally, when the user drags the selection handles, the expected behavior is that the position of the selection and the handle are never the same: the handle is placed below the selection position and when you drag the handle, the new selection position is above the handle… ;-)

    Long push is reasonable to map to double mouse click, as in both cases e.g. in Writer the user expects to have a select word action. But for the adjustment of selections, we really had to define a new API (lok::Document::setTextSelection()) to allow setting the start or end of the selection to a new logical (in document coordinates, not paragraph / character indexes) point.

    If you are interested how this looks like, here is a demo:

    An other direction we’re working towards is to have the same features in other applications as well: Impress and Calc. Perhaps not so surprisingly, we hit similar problems in these applications as well that we had to solve in Writer. The typical problems are:

    • LibreOffice assumes a given portion of the document is visible (visual area), but the Android view is independent from what LO thinks is visible. Example: LO thinks a table is not visible, so it doesn’t send the selection events for the text inside the table, even if it’s in fact visible on the Android app.

    • Instead of calling Invalidate() and waiting for a timer to call Paint(), at some places direct Paint() is performed, so the tile invalidation notification triggered by Invalidate() is missing → lack of content on Android.

    • We render each tile into a VirtualDevice — kind of an off-screen rendering  — and at some places LO assumed that certain content like the actively edited shape’s text is not interesting, as it’s not interesting "during printing".

    • LO’s mouse events are in pixels, and then this is translated to mm100 (hunderd of milimeters) or twips in core. So counting in pixels is the common language, while the Android app counts everything in twips, and doesn’t want to care about what would be visible at what pixel on the screen, if LO would run in desktop mode. So we had to make sure that we can pass in event coordinates in twips, and get invalidation coordinates in twips, even if previously it was a mix of mm100, twips and pixels.

    Here is how Impress looks like, with working tile invalidation, touch and keyboard handling:

    Calc is lagging a bit behind, but it also has working tile invalidation and keyboard handling:

    That’s it for now — as usual the commits of me and Tomaž Vajngerl are in master (a few of them is only in feature/tiled-editing for now), so you can try this right now, or wait till the next Tuesday and get the Android daily build. :-)

  • Monday, 09 February 2015
    Tiled editing: from a living document to input handling (Comments)

    In from viewing only to a living document, I wrote about how tile invalidation can handle updates in the Android app in case what should be displayed on the screen changes. A next step in this TDF-funded project is to handle more than blinking text: keyboard and mouse/touch events from the user.

    First let me enumerate over the issues we had to face:

    • Gtk, Android and LibreOffice’s VCL use different key codes for the same physical keys. We solved this by mapping the special keys manually on the Gtk/Android side (using the C++ and Java UNO binding), and for the rest, we simply use the unicode representation of the keys.

    • Special keys: while "return" was easy to map, getting "backspace" to work was more challenging. It worked fine on the Gtk side, but on Android we had to make sure that the whole sfx2 dispatching framework works properly, only then could map the backspace key to the correct UNO command, which is .uno:SwBackspace in case of Writer.

    • Mouse handling: VCL sends pixel coordinates to the editing windows, they then calculate the offset of the editing area (think about toolbars and menus that have to be excluded), and then converts the pixel values to document coordinates. In case of tiled editing, we always work with document coordinates in logical units (twips), so we had to add the possibility to send the coordinates in document ones. This allows core not knowing where the user exactly is (in case the tiles are already ready, swiping can be handled without any LOK calls), and also allows Android not knowing the implementation details of the desktop app (where menus and toolbars would be).

    • Cursor caret overlay: we wanted to be sure that it’s not necessary to re-render the affected tiles each time the cursor blinks, so we added a LOK API to send the rectangle (its width is nearly zero) of the cursor to Android, and then it can handle the blinking cursor itself in a transparent overlay. This overlay will be useful for presenting selections as well.

    As usual the commits of me and Tomaž Vajngerl are in master, so you can try this right now, or wait till tomorrow and get the Android daily build. However, if you are just interested how this looks like, here are some demos:

    • Keyboard handling in gtktiledviewer:

    • Same on Android, including newlines and backspace handling:

    • Mouse handling in gtktiledviewer:

    • Same on Android, including the transparent selection overlay that can efficiently blink the cursor:

    That’s it for now — next on our list are selections, so you can delete and overwrite more easily. :-)

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