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Multi-page floating tables in Writer: UI improvements

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

This post is part of a series to describe how Writer now gets a feature to handle tables that are both floating and span over multiple pages.

This work is primarily for Collabora Online, but is useful on the desktop as well. See the 9th post for the previous part.


Previous posts described the hardest part of multi-page floating tables: reading them from documents, so we layout and render them. In this part, you can read about UI improvements when it comes to creating, updating and deleting them in Writer.

Results so far

Regarding testing of the floating table feature in general, the core.git repository has 89 files now which are focusing on correct handling of floating tables (filenames matching floattable-|floating-table-). This doesn't count cases where the document model is built using C++ code in the memory and then we assert the result of some operation.

Here are some screenshots from the improvements this month:

Improved insertion of floating tables

The first screenshot shows that the underlying LibreOffice Insert Frame dialog is now async (compatible with collaborative editing) and is now exposed in the Collabora Online notebookbar.

There were other improvements as well, so in case you select a whole table and insert a new frame, the result is close to what the DOCX import creates to floating tables. This includes a default frame width that matches the table width, and also disabling frame borders, since the table can already have one.

Unfloating a floating table

The next screenshot shows an inserted floating table, where the context menu allows updating the properties of an already inserted floating table, and also allows to delete ("unfloat") it.

Several of these changes are shared improvements between LibreOffice and Collabora Online, so everyone benefits. For example, inserting a frame when a whole table was selected also cleared the undo stack, which is now fixed. Or unfloating table was only possible if some part of the table was clipped, but now this is always possible to do.

How is this implemented?

If you would like to know a bit more about how this works, continue reading... :-)

As usual, the high-level problem was addressed by a series of small changes:

Want to start using this?

You can get a snapshot / demo of Collabora Office 23.05 and try it out yourself right now: try the unstable snapshot. Collabora intends to continue supporting and contributing to LibreOffice, the code is merged so we expect all of this work will be available in TDF's next release too (24.2).

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