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Collaboration testing

The collaboration facility for synchronous document editing is an interesting feature. Our usabilility testing students are planning some exploratory studies of this feature with gradeschool students.

Is there a user event logging facility under the covers of OLPC AbiWord that we might use to collect detailed user actions? --FGrose 17:44, 29 March 2008 (EDT)

Martin Sevior has responded to my inquiry on his LiveJournal page. --FGrose 16:56, 3 April 2008 (EDT)

Missing Manual?

How about creating this > Write UserManual ?

This page is headed "for the general public," but the structure ("Goals" etc) sounds like a document for developers.

There should be links to actual user-level instruction here (if that is not what this page is.)

If this page IS the user documentation, it should be organized around tasks:

  • How to create a new document
  • How to name or title a document
    • How to rename a document
    • How to save a copy under a new name, such as "Monday's draft," "Tuesday's draft..."
  • How to delete a document
  • How to find and reopen a document you created earlier
  • How to send that document to another child, a teacher or another person
  • How to put the document on a removable memory (USB or SD) for printing on a bigger computer
  • How to copy a document from a USB or SD
  • How to open an existing document on a USB drive or SD, including available document formats, any restrictions about file names or extensions, etc.

For reference, and for alternate learning models, document each menu/mode and the actions each makes possible. Add a paragraph under each of these headings. Add clear but small screen images (remember some readers will read this ON an XO):

  • Activity...
  • Edit...
  • Text...
  • Image...
  • Table...
  • Format...
  • View...

I'll stop there, because at this stage of development, I assume all this has been done somewhere else by someone.
Robby 10:06, 12 January 2008 (EST)


Open files imported with Opera

How do you open an existing document, for example, a text file on the XO itself? *NOT* on a USB drive?


??? (I swear, the XO has got to be the least usable computer I have ever seen. Hopefully an update is coming... 02:07, 23 February 2008 (EST))

Perhaps a more useful answer is to find the file in the Journal and click on it; it will "resume" in Write. Feedback as to what you find unusable would be helpful in guiding us to make the computer it better. --Walter 08:21, 23 February 2008 (EST)
And if you can't find the file in the Journal? I _know_ that you can open text files in the Journal. What I want to know is, if you have it on the internal XO drive, and it's not viewable in the Journal, what then? This is what I mean when I say it is fairly unusable; activities internal to Sugar can work together, but anything external is inaccessible. I've copied text files off of SD cards and downloaded them with Opera, and now they are NOT viewable in the Journal. Since they aren't viewable in the Journal, and since Write and Browse and all the other built-in activities are incapable of opening files on their own, they cannot open these files. Browse can access files on the XO, if I manually go there, but it doesn't wrap long lines. Write can't open the files at all. I've taken to using Opera as the text file reader, something not installed by default. Honestly, I cannot understand the rationality of crippling the XO (an otherwise *great* little machine) with this terrible software suite. How is hiding the internals of a computer going to help teach anyone anything? -- 00:11, 24 February 2008 (EST)
If you download a file through the Browse activity (as oppose to Opera), it is automatically installed as an entry in the Journal. If for some reason you want to do an end run around Sugar, you can import and export files to and from the Journal (See Copy to and from the Journal). The rationale behind the Journal, which in its current implementation is--as you note--not as polished as it should and will be, is to provide a mechanism for the children, their teachers, and their parents to assess progress over time. Please keep in mind the overarching goal of the project is to provide a tool for learning. Feel free to help us make improvements. --Walter 08:09, 24 February 2008 (EST)
Maybe the note below will help some more Linux-experienced users who don't want to use the python scripts. Robby 13:15, 1 March 2008 (EST)

Use file-level Browse to import to Write

The XO's Browse activity can view the Linux directory structure, including any files you have downloaded with Opera or created with Nano, the Linux text editor. You can view the file contents... and then copy into Write. (Walter & co: Perhaps the "Keep" feature in Browse could offer the option of saving a text file to the Journal, where it could be opened with Write. If there's a way to do that now, I haven't figured it out.)

Here's the workaround:

  1. Open Browse
  2. Click "OLPC Library" in the address field
  3. The address should be "file://home/olpc/library_pages/search/bundle_index.html"
  4. Delete all but "file://home/olpc/"
  5. Press "enter"
  6. Click any filename ending in .txt
  7. It will display in the Browse window.
  1. If you want to import the entire text into Write, press Ctrl-U (which would be "view source" if this were an HTML file). Write will launch with a copy of the file contents.
  2. Click "Activity" and rename the document something other than the default "Source."
  3. Use "Keep" to save in desired format. (If formats are fully functional.)
  1. If you only want to import part of the file, highlight contents with ctrl-a or mouse
  2. Copy with ctrl-c
  3. Open Write
  4. Paste with ctrl-v or menu.
  5. Name Write document or save in new format with "Keep" (If formats have been fixed.)

Similarly, if you have downloaded a PDf file with Opera, you can use this file-Browse approach to locate the file and click on the filename -- which will launch Browse's "download" routine, adding the document to the Journal and opening it in Read mode.

This may be more appropriate in the Browse or Journal wiki entries. Feel free to copy or link. Robby 13:15, 1 March 2008 (EST)

Open files from USB drives

How do you open an existing document, for example, a text file on a USB drive


Click the USB drive and you will see a Journal listing of items on the drive.

Locate the title of the item you wish to open. Click the title of the item once. This will open a preview page in the journal, showing a document icon, the document title in a gray rounded rectangular area similar to a browser's address bar, and a preview of the visual appearance of the document. Below the preview will be the words Description (you can add a description here) and Tags (you can add keywords here).

When you see the document in the preview screen (preceding paragraph), find the rectangle icon: it is at the right-hand side of the black task bar at the top of the screen.

When you move the mouse/trackpad pointer over the rectangle, you will see a drop-down menu that includes the word Resume and possible choices of Activities (e.g. Write, EToys) that you can use to open the document. Move the mouse/trackpad pointer to the desired Activity and click once. The Activity will open and the document will open.

NOTE: If you have been attempting to open RTF documents created on another platform, for example MacOSX TextEdit, you may find that this is not possible. I have written a bug report on this subject and posted it on the page for Write under the "desired features" section. If you have trouble attempting to open specific types of documents, please add your input to that posting, and/or find a way to bring it to the attention of developers. The inability to open standard cross-platform document types is a major issue in my opinion and needs serious attention ASAP.

NOTE: You can definitely open .TXT documents on the XO that were created in MacOSX TextEdit as .TXT documents. You can make changes to those documents on the XO and save as .TXT, and then open them on the Mac. I've tested this function and it works, so you can use .TXT as a workaround for transferring information between platforms. These docs will have to be created as .TXT, rather than converted from other formats, otherwise garbage characters may appear. However, .TXT is not a permanent solution; .RTF is a basic standard that also needs to be made working.

(posted by G510, not a registered user but one of the first to order an XO via G1G1) (Yes I need to register.. will do tomorrow, possibly under a different UserID.)

RTF WILL OPEN - Using this method works well with files I created on Mac using Leopard creating Word files saved as RTF. So, RTF files do open and open with auto features enabled, such as automatic paragraph numbering in original document. I'm happy with that. This information should be easier to find. Took me about two (2) hours to find out how to do this, and that is not intuitive. I appreciate the XO is a child-enabled machine/software approach, but that should not mean it is an adult-disabled machine/software combo. This would be a great machine for US schools- there are millions of children who have very limited access to computers here also. The G0G0 program should be used again. When I took the XO to a local restaurant, another patron came over, knew about it, but had never seen the XO. He spent the rest of his time telling his companion all about the XO and the G0G0.

Feature Requests

It is not possible to change the columns width when working with a table.

Functionality Test states: " save document" this needs clarification as earlier in the page it states: "no need to ever do a save" Clarification of "save" "keep" and "name" is needed. The WRITE record in the journal is not named and thereby not really saved unless marked as something someone might recognize. Also clicking on WRITE listing in journal does not open document. Explanation of filling out attributes in journal section to make use of tracking write creations is needed.Peidavey 21:53, 26 December 2007 (EST)

Significant problem found: .RTF document format appears to be incompatible between XO Write activity and MacOSX TextEdit.

Documents created as RTF in MacOSX TextEdit cannot be opened on the XO, and documents created as RTF in XO Write cannot be opened on the Mac.

The only way to open an XO RTF on the Mac is to convert the file extension to .TXT on the Mac, at which point all actual formatting is lost, a bunch of "garbage characters" appears (presumably the formatting control characters), and there is a warning message saying do not attempt to edit this document.

There does not appear to be a way to open a Mac RTF on the XO: all I get is a blank Write page.

Documents created as .TXT in XO Write are compatible with .TXT in MacOSX TextEdit, in both directions. While this may be tolerable as a temporary workaround, it is not an acceptable long-term solution.

RTF is supposed to be a cross-platform document standard, so this needs to be fixed. A search of this site for RTF turned up nothing so this may be the first report of this issue.

Also please reply to this posting if possible, advising where further information and/or a fix can be found. Thanks...

(User: g510, not registered; however, one of the first to order an XO)

   Found similar problem with .rtf created with Write. Transferred to Windows 2000 environment
   via USB flash drive. When opened as .rtf (using Word 2000), looks like all the coding is 
   displayed, along with an AbiWord banner. I tried to change the file extension to see what 
   would happen. I tried .html and got my original rtf file, except with a 'strikethrough' 
   effect for all of the text, and the words "application/x-abiword AbiWord" at the top of 
   the page (not struck-through). Extension .txt also showed codes and a suggestion to not 
   edit the document by hand.  I am a G1G1 donor and not technically trained, but hope this
   data is useful.  
   (User: amysey - As a note, I tried to logon this evening to the Wiki and could not see 
    the logon window.)
        More from amysey:  today downloaded Abiword onto PC with Windows 2000. Opened the
        Write file and resaved as RTF. No problems reading with Word after that.
        So it is a workable work-around.  Also saved as plain text and as html and the html 
        file most closely approximated the original from the XO (except stripped out photo
        originally inserted into Write file. But jpg not a problem as separate file).

POSSIBLE FUTURE feature request: Import/export for the Open Document text Format (.odt). As Abiword's native support improves, this should become possible. My reasons are not political, but practical. ODF is an ISO standard and is actually in use and we already have RTF and DOC support (sorta...). Again, this is a FUTURE ENHANCEMENT request for the consideration of the developers. Thanks. --From Martin Sevior - write developer.

This is a bug in the version of write that was distributed with some of the xo's. It has been fixed in later builds which have no problem opening rtf files.

Feedback from children The-Users

Renaming is an issue (OLPC India, Meerut)
When renaming a file, if you move the cursor out of the top gray area, the renaming stops, and you’re editing the document. Kids struggle with this as they tend to look at the keyboard when they type, not the screen. --Hbonwit 00:19, 26 April 2008 (EDT)
See Reporting bugs; developers may not notice random comments on this wiki. -- Skierpage 04:52, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, Skierpage. We need that advisory in EVERY page in the wiki, and also in every one of the lists. Yamaplos 08:00, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Problem Reports: RTF is not RTF

I assume these bugs are already being addressed, but I added a note to the page suggesting that users use TXT or HTML as transfer formats.

KEEP formats

As noted above, Keep-as-RTF documents do not open properly with Word. That's simply because they aren't RTF. My test documents were identical to the native ABIWord version; only the name was changed. Viewed with an ASCII editor, they have an xml 1.0 heading as "DOCTPE abiword." The Keep-as-TXT and HTM versions, at least on the simple document I've tested, are functional. I've edited the page suggesting TXT format for now; html probably would work well enough, but I assume the RTF fix is in the works.

Robby 21:37, 13 January 2008 (EST)

How to locate Documents through Terminal?

The following problem occures to me (build 656 (last stable)): I've created several documents with write, which could all be accessed through the journal for quite some time. Now, i haven't done anything with write for about 6 weeks or more, i cannot access the files through Journal anymore, no matter what filter.

Where are the documents stored in the file system and what ending do they have? find -name "*.rtf" in / (root) didnt get me any results, neither did doc, etc.

please help! thanks. 100-Dollar-Man 16:01, 9 June 2008 (EDT)

~olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store has raw files with long meaningless unique IDs with no extension; each often contains the data file of an activity like a PDF or an image. So one of these might be your Write data. I think Write might save as an OpenDocument .odt file, or maybe the AbiWord .abw format, but as you found there's no extension. For each data file one there's a matching unique_ID.metadata file that has information like the title. So you could cd to the directory above, grep i "write activity" *.metadata or whatever you titled the file, then copy the matching file to a USB flash drive while renaming to myfile.odt, then try to import or read on another machine. These rough steps are for joyride - 2273, but I think the Datastore worked similarly in earlier builds. -- Skierpage 10:04, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
oh, thanks alot skierpage!! i'll tr that soon, i still have a backup of the old files somewhere! thanks! --100-Dollar-Man 19:46, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

Language changing in write activity

The following problem occured to me (build 767) Write I recently configured the XO so that it could type in both english and nepali. In other activities, this works fine. For example, I can open the chat activity, change the language using the multiplication/division button and chat with others in Nepali. However, when I tried to use the language change button in the Write Activity, the language changed to something else. (e.g when I press A, Y is typed etc.) If I change my language before I enter the write activity, I can type in Nepali but when I try to switch the language to english, It doesn't happen. Pradosh 05:34, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Styles / format

It is of public record that I dislike anything Microsoft, but those guys have it right in their most recent Office suite that Styles are right there on the main menu bar, on top.

The main reason Styles are good is that, as anyone who has done real text editing knows, a document where your titles, etc are set with Styles is easier to work with down the line, easier to edit, modify, index, translate, etc. The main problem is that most people never ever learn to use styles, and thus their documents are sad examples of workmanship the day they need to be reused or adapted.

It is not a good thing to have kids learn things the wrong way, because unlearning something is harder than to learn it right from the get go. To use styles is the right way to use text editors. Write does not make it easy to do things the right way.

Write does have styles, but using them is a total pain, not even shortcuts.

Since they are there already, it shouldn't be that hard to put them ehere they can do some good, accessible in the main space on top.

Yamaplos 08:09, 9 December 2008 (UTC)