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Visual formula/Math editor

asked 2020-12-06 14:04:20 +0200

grin gravatar image

updated 2021-06-05 00:36:06 +0200

Alex Kemp gravatar image

Would there be any point to open an enhancement bug for LibreOffice Formula/Math to request visual editing?

To cut to the case: Mathcha.io.

It is a javascript service to write math pages, formula as well as various other things. If you do not know it please check first, so you see what I mean.

1) it is visual / WYSIWYG: you edit the formula, not the source. This may be a matter of taste, but:

2) it is very _fast_ to use. The reason for that is that it uses a command hotkey (backslash) which pops up a context sensitively ordered, searchable list of functions, basically everywhere. You use it to select math-inline, use it for operators, special characters, brackets, functions, ... all of them come formatted. Since it's context-sensitively ordered even when you don't know the exact name it's on the top of the list, and if not it can be searched (if all else fails by clickable categories), and contains unique enough names to be able to type only 2-3 characters to pull up any objects. Also search is possibly ordered by use frequency so most used operators come to the top.

3) it can use the already selected text for functions, like for numerator of a fraction, or to put something into braces.

The point is: it is way faster than typing the source: random tests show about 10 times less keystrokes, and zero mouse clicks (and mouse clicks are a distraction when one's typing a formula)! Also it'd be probably easier to use for the non-geek.

It could generate the source (TeX or LO Formula compatible, whatever one please).

But as far as I see there are no large development going on on the Formula tool and I do not like to create bugs staying there forever. What do you think? Shall I?

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Math lags light-years behind the other LO components. It has not seen development for years.

As an example, look at the notions of styles which allow very easy and versatile change of appearance in Writer, Calc and Impress. There are also styles in Draw but less powerful. However, in Math, it is quite impossible to change appearance (e.g. try to change a font face) without recreating the whole formula.

If you feel like capable of writing a specification or at least a technical user scenario/work description, don't hesitate. Write it and propose it the the dev team.

Also, LO, and Math in particular, is FLOSS. Its source code is freely available and you are encouraged to improve it if you have the skills for it.

I remember @Lupp offered a small bounty to everyone who could improve Math.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2020-12-06 14:23:54 +0200 )edit

@ajlittoz What is the preferred way to "propose"? Mailing list? Github issue? Other? I can only offer creating a specification, I do not have the possibility to actually code it.

grin gravatar imagegrin ( 2020-12-06 15:33:55 +0200 )edit

I'd recommend first a contact with the dev team. I found this link. If this works add a comment with feedback.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2020-12-06 16:11:55 +0200 )edit

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answered 2020-12-06 14:55:42 +0200

kompilainenn gravatar image

updated 2020-12-06 14:56:13 +0200

You always can write your enhancement to bugs.documentfoundation.org

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@ajlittoz unfortunately is right: No development over years, bug reports next to pointless.
An example: https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/s...
Users urgently needing a working formula editor (I'm no longer among these) are forced to resort to (e.g.) https://extensions.libreoffice.org/en... probably. But this implies issues concerning document exchange/portability and multi-author papers (in schools e.g.).
LibreOffice should actually be a recommendable platform with a low entry point there.
I even offered a "starting shot" of up to EUR500 once without any response. That amount wasn't exactly small on my personal scale.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2020-12-06 16:08:50 +0200 )edit

@Lupp, Entshuldigung! I didn't remember accurately the amount; I thought it was rather in the 50 EUR range. The effective amount is particularly generous coming from a "simple" user.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2020-12-06 16:17:04 +0200 )edit

Don't worry!! No apologies needed. (I was a bit afraid originally the amount might be judged poncey.)

You also deplored the lack of formula styles. Concerning a probale need of harmonizing formulas (from different sources e.g.) in a single text document, I once wrote a bit of code allowing to use one of all these formulas as a kind of formatting template.


(The code could be simplified, but I didn't do it yet.)

(ajlittoz: I took the liberty to reformat slightly the link to the question)

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2020-12-06 18:37:32 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2020-12-06 14:04:20 +0200

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Last updated: Dec 06 '20