MS Office Fails

I am not one of those elitists who considers MS Office too pedestrian, as if the sanctity of Perfect Office is so superior. The latter is better, but not for the reasons most aficionados offer. Nor is LibreOffice so cool simply because it’s Open Source. What makes LibreOffice better is that it works the way I do.

When I first learned about document structure and so forth, I was still using typewriters. My next step was actually into the realm of HTML. It was more about delivery of content than it was plastering things precisely on a page. It required that I learn how the human eyes and brain worked together to parse what was being presented on the screen. Maybe I didn’t learn it all that well, but it was how I learned to approach things. For example, it really is best if a line of text has between 50 and 80 characters, because that’s how the brain works with text.

And objects in the page aside from the text should have distinct anchor points. That’s a major focus of how things fall on the page, even when printed. I seldom print anything, but I do produce a lot of PDFs as a fairly universal form of electronic document storage. The HTML approach works fine. If pictures and so forth need to go on a page, just move the anchor point and have the text rewrap around it. No problem.

MS Office may be able to that to some degree, but not by default. I just spent a bit of time earlier trying it with Word 2003 and with the online version of Word. It offers no visible anchor reference point by default. Instead, it tries to decide for you where everything should go, and it’s typically wrong. It does the drag-n-drop thing with images very poorly, erasing all your options every time you touch it. LibreOffice and WordPerfect both have no trouble with this simple task, keeping your formatting as you move it about the page. Yes, there are plenty of things both of those do wrong, and a few things Word gets right, but it isn’t much.

But almost everyone I’ve sent any documents whines that everything has to be in MS Word format. For simple stuff, that’s okay, but if it includes any other added features like graphics or tables, they get PDFs. I’m not taking the risk of having something destroyed by the incompetence of Microsoft. I really don’t care what the rest of the world considers the standard. I’m about as anti-mainstream as it gets for the a great many things. Almost everything I try to communicate assumes a departure from the mainstream; the mainstream is wrong on just about everything.

So just be aware that this is how I operate. I am praying for a new tower and it will run Win10 for at least a while. During that time, I will not waste money on Office 365. I’ll keep using LibreOffice and also see if I can get my copy of PerfectOffice to run, since it does PDFs better than even Adobe does.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to MS Office Fails

  1. Jay DiNitto says:

    HTML was specifically structured to deliver complex information (I think it was mostly scientific), so they had to structure it with enough of a native hierarchical framework to address it. You can easily build a website with organized with just a few native HTML 4.0 elements and maybe some CSS, though that’s not needed. It will look very plain but it will serve its purpose. I think that with the overwhelming rate of content being read on the web, Microsoft and other word processor makers have tailored their applications to that audience. You kind of mention it here. Just an idea I had.


  2. Ed Hurst says:

    The memories are fuzzy, but I recall reading how MS was way behind the curve in adopting the Internet itself. The official MS theory was that the Internet was a fleeting fashion. Their word processor arose from a very typewriter oriented philosophy, in the lowest common denominator sense of tinkering with the attributes instead of working from the philosophy of structure that was behind WordPerfect. WP’s underlying format was SGML, the forerunner of several other documentation types. LibreOffice was XML from the start (back when it was Star Office). Once I absorbed some part of the document structure philosophy, I realized how MS Word started bringing that in as an afterthought. It’s there now, to some degree, but not part of the inherent design.

    Liked by 1 person

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