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An Update on Composer

by JASON KERSEY | According to Charles Manske, a programmer on the Composer module, the coders are continuing work while patiently awaiting the finalization of the NGLayout code. They aren't spinning their wheels, however. Here's Charles' update, gathered by Jason Kersey, maintainer of the binary distribution site MozBin.

Work In Progress

1. Complete, interactive table editing. The width and height values in the table property dialogs are now accurate. Tables and cells can be selected -- including rows, columns, and arbitrary collections of non-contiguous cells. Once selected, all paragraph and character properties can be applied to the contents of the selection. You can copy/cut/paste and Drag & Drop table selections with lots of flexibility. A new top-level Table Menu has these and other features relating to table editing, as does the right-mouse popup menu. This includes joining selected cells (automatic setting of ROWSPAN, COLSPAN values), and resplitting back to non-spanned cell layout.

Cells selected in Excel are recognized as Table Cells and can be pasted as a new table or inserted or overlayed into an existing table with the same flexibility as internal HTML table selections. There is also the choice of pasting either the text or image representation of the Excel (or other program's) clipboard data if multiple formats exist.

And this from Akkana Peck, also working on the Composer module:

"Most of this is already working in the current client on mozilla.org (though there are still some more improvements coming)."

2. Improved list editing -- enforce HTML rules of what is allowed in different list types. Pressing Enter on an empty item will outdent the list one level (thus it is easy to terminate a list by repeated Enter presses.) Pressing Ctrl+Enter will create a new item indented one level in. Lots of list bugs fixed (and more will be fixed in the next couple of months.)

3. Lots of HTML tag-eating bugs fixed.

4. Improved Color Picker: More web-safe colors (70), save last-used text and background colors, and a user-built custom palette that is saved between sessions. Easier interface to change background colors on a page or in a table (hold Alt key while clicking on the color picker widget on the toolbar.)

5. Simplified toolbars - mostly removing less-used items.

6. History list of up to 10 "Recently Edited pages" is available from the File menu or popup menu under the "Open" toolbar button. The "New" and "Print" toolbar buttons also have popup menus (like the Browser's Back and Forward buttons) accessible by the right mouse button or by holding the left button down for a second.

7. The "Ender" HTML control: A completely-functional Composer View can be embedded into a Browser page to supply HTML-editing inside of a TEXTAREA-like environment. This will be used for Webmail as well.

Akkana writes, "An early version of this is in the code now, but it's still being developed so it's not fully functional yet. You should be hearing a lot more about this once it's more testable."

8. Detection and replacement of "bad" or unknown character sets when editing a page for better international support.

Planned work to finish for 5.0

1. Major improvements in the speed of typing within tables.

2. Better integration with Netcenter for publishing, with access a library of images and page templates.

3. Continued bug fixing, of course!

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We'll finish off this update with a last note from Akkana.

"There are also lots of bug fixes and small improvements (find and replace, drag-resize of images, improvements to make publishing easier, fixes for some of the scrolling problems plaguing earlier versions, and performance improvements) in the works, targeted at making composer more usable.

By all means try out composer in Mozilla, especially the table editing and resizing stuff, and let us know how you like it (keeping in mind that this is all still in development and so may be somewhat unstable). We think it's a big improvement over previous versions."

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