[LINK] Dvorak Says "Scrap MS Word"
rick at praxis.com.au
Thu Aug 26 04:58:44 EST 2004
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au wrote:
> But oh, I so sympathised with this line:
> "Users of plain-text editors know that Microsoft has never been able to
> get Word to generate a simple ASCII file without issues. First, there is
> no option to create a plain ASCII file. Instead, we can create a variety
> of so-called "plain text" files, none of which seem to be plain text."
It is pathetic that the most popular word processor cannot even produce
a decent plain text document. I am engaged in a constant battle with
MS Word users who cannot even open a plain text attachement, let alone
write a plain text document.
At the risk of being labelled "too technical" (which is ironic), I have
eschewed word processing and even text processing unless under extreme
duress. It is laughable that it is supposedly easier to write a formatted
MS Word document than plain old text.
I say supposedly because of my experiences with this odious medium:
(*) I reviewed some 50+ job applications last month; most were written
in Word, and so badly written and formatted I had to short list
them to about 10 that were easy to read and comprehend; these documents
were written by programmer/analysts, who one would think could
master a simple thing like a word processor
(*) I often review technical documentation in my job; what worries me
is that often form takes precedence over substance when someone gets
hold of a word processor. (Of course there are many good technical
writers out there, but there are far fewer capable of type setting
a nice looking document.)
(*) MS Word is misused when a typesetting (text processing) application
should be used. Examples: theses, books, ver long publications.
Much preferable is to either use a typesetting application or a
markup language that converts the text into a typeset document.
My preferred media of text interchange is plain text. As in "the email you
are now reading is in plain text." Nothing could be simpler. Literally all
of the RFCs in information memoranda that define the open protocols and
standards are written in plain text.
See <ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc2854.txt> for a sterling
example. You will notice that the entire document is written in
plain text (ASCII text characters only, no advanced formatting features),
is very legible and *most important* will always be understandable and
legible on any future computer system that understands the ASCII codes.
The same cannot be said of MS Word, Open Office, and friends. O-O ain't
so bad, since it stores the document in XML. But my point is this: in the
majority of circumstances, "fancy formatted" word processed documents
are overkill. The only thing the formatting accomplishes is some sense
of "wow" factor that is possibly meant to impress superiors at work,
or peers or customers. The formatting rarely if ever conveys any meaning
or adds to the semantics of what is being written.
I don't know if other Linkers would agree, but I find that the majority
of MS Word docs I read are poorly formatted, their authors do not understand
the concept of "styles" and often the document would have far more easy
to understand if written as plain text.
BTW: As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I chose XHTML as a simple
markup language when I do require some fancier formatting. And I still
do not understand why learning XHTML and basic CSS is perceived to be so
much more difficult than learning MS Word or a text processor. Keep in mind
the much higher value in learning XHTML/CSS: that skill translate directly
into the rather huge area of web publishing. Skills learned by learning
text/word processing are rather wasted once one is asked to publish a
web page ;)
Rick Welykochy || Praxis Services
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking
about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
-- George W Bush, Washington DC, 20040805 (http://www.dubyaspeak.com/)
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