Bug 137497 - [Feature Request] Add option to display comments to the left of the document canvas
Summary: [Feature Request] Add option to display comments to the left of the document ...
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Writer (show other bugs)
(earliest affected) release
Hardware: All All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Depends on:
Blocks: Writer-Comments
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Reported: 2020-10-15 09:19 UTC by Clarc
Modified: 2020-12-15 20:04 UTC (History)
5 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:

current master 7.1.0 Comment and TrackChanges (110.89 KB, image/png)
2020-10-21 19:52 UTC, V Stuart Foote

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Description Clarc 2020-10-15 09:19:42 UTC
Currently, all comments are displayed on the right side of the document. Sometimes, it's more comfortable to have your comments on the left side of the document however.

For example, when both the comments AND the sidebar are shown, the document gets pushed to the far left because all the other stuff is on the right. In cases like this, the user could select an option / drag and drop the comment hide/show -button to the left to reposition the whole comment-collumn.
Comment 1 Roman Kuznetsov 2020-10-19 21:03:22 UTC
A use case and a reason are strange for me

UX-team, what do you think?
Comment 2 V Stuart Foote 2020-10-19 21:46:39 UTC
Trivial now already to relocate the Sidebar to be docked left, leaving space to the right side of canvas free.

I don't see a lot of need to move commenting to the left side for a LTR user interface, beyond moving the SideBar.

-1, => WF
Comment 3 Clarc 2020-10-20 07:36:03 UTC
It just feels really strange to me... In an open source software that seems to be designed in a way where you can reorder most UI-elements (Navigator, Search-bar, those tools at the top), it's weird to have one central element locked in place.
Especially if it has the effect of shifting everything into one direction.

Also, I wouldn't say moving the sidebar the is a perfect fix. You force the user to reorder an even more important element; an element, the user most likely is even more accustomed to.
Basically: If the user has used LO for a few years and now needs to start using comments, he has two options:
1. Stay in a configuration that forces the user to keep his eyes on the left side of the screen.
2. Relocate the sidebar to the left, which will mess with a workflow that the user has followed for years.

LibreOffice has a very neat drag & drop reordering system. I suggest using it, instead of ignoring some places where the user might want to customize their view.
Comment 4 Heiko Tietze 2020-10-20 09:37:32 UTC
Whether right or left, the comments take precious vertical space. And options for each and every situation don't improve usability. The actual issue is to have alternatives for the clunky margin and a suggestion was to go with pop-ups (bug 101714). Another idea, to introduce a dedicated sidebar deck, see bug 106316, was rejected since we the Navigator.

Concur with Stuart to reject this proposal, but will make it a duplicate to raise the attention on the other ticket.

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 101714 ***
Comment 5 Clarc 2020-10-20 18:14:31 UTC
I appreciate you referencing this issue somewhere else, i have to say that other bug wasn't my intention though.

I like the way the current comment-margin works. It works fine and for me it's very comfortable knowing what a comment says without having to hover over the text.
This is why it would like this bug to not be a duplicate of #101714.

My proposal is not to somehow make comments use up less space; in my opinion they don't use too much the space.
What I propose is to enable users to have the comment-margin on the left of the page instead of the right, so that users who want to keep the Navigator on the right have the option of keeping the page centered.
Comment 6 Heiko Tietze 2020-10-21 08:06:38 UTC
(In reply to Clarc from comment #5)
> What I propose is to enable users to have the comment-margin on the left of
> the page instead of the right, so that users who want to keep the Navigator
> on the right have the option of keeping the page centered.

Quite a lot of work for not much benefit, IMO. But feel free to reopen the ticket.
Comment 7 Clarc 2020-10-21 17:32:40 UTC
> ...feel free to reopen the ticket.
Thank you.
Comment 8 V Stuart Foote 2020-10-21 19:19:59 UTC
This sure smell like feature creep. 

Though I would be curious if, like SB, the comments follow changes LTR <--> RTL locale (meaning the Commenting UI could more simply be selectively moved to Left or Right by user preference). Just toggling LTR / RTL for a document does not shift the comments.

How does László's current work on Tracked changes in margin position things, seems the default now to placement in left margin? Do they follow LTR / RTL by locale? And could they be selectively toggled to show left or right edge of canvas?

The Tracked changes and Comments have different code path, currently they seem to coexist--Track Chagnes on left, Comments on right--should they be aware of each other if we are going to support moving Comments?

Any case, a lot of extra dev effort required. And would that effort be better spent to implement feature to use pop-ups, as bug 101714. Or maybe to finish track change in the SB, and to include a Comments content panel. 

Windows 10 (2004) with
Version: (x64)
Build ID: e0c72e31c1d455c26110c35e8780d420e17cdea6
CPU threads: 8; OS: Windows 10.0 Build 18363; UI render: Skia/Raster; VCL: win
Locale: en-US (en_US); UI: en-US
Calc: CL
Comment 9 V Stuart Foote 2020-10-21 19:52:45 UTC
Created attachment 166603 [details]
current master 7.1.0 Comment and TrackChanges

Screen clip of current Comment present right of document canvas, with new (against bug 34355) Track Changes in left margin.  With TC Toolbar, TC 'Manage Changes' dialog, and "experimental" 'Manage Changes' Sidebar deck activated to show all the GUI pieces at play.
Comment 10 Heiko Tietze 2020-10-22 08:25:36 UTC Comment hidden (off-topic)
Comment 11 calisperabe 2020-12-13 18:53:34 UTC

Before giving my comment, I want to tell that I'm not used to participate to this kind of discussion. I participate because I simply asked the question on the forum as to know if there is a possibility on Libre Office Writer, to have the comments on the left side. And, as this possibility doesn't exist, it has been suggested to me to give some more comments here to tell the advantages of it.

I'm used to write articles, documents, and mix very often different things that I've written in the past in order to make something more complete and accurate.
10 years ago, or more, I was used to correct my texts by printing them, and I was writing my comments all over the document : left, right, above or beneath, or on other pages, using numbered asterisks, etc.

But the left comment place was always very important to me. Because, when the text had not the right chronology, mixing ideas at different places, with redundancies etc. ; what I was doing was marking each part of paragraph (even in the middle of the text - like we highlight the text with the comments in Libre Office), and writing the subject of it at the left side. Thereafter I was reading all my subjects and I was giving them a number  in order to collect all the written paragraphs on the same subject or similar ones with the same numbers.
Then, I could go back to the computer, and put together all the paragraphs that were from the same number/subject. And from that point I could - inside each collection of paragraphs - change the chronology, the text itself, delete the redundancies, add a precision, etc.

When you are using lots of different notions on 10, 20, 40 pages, coming from different sources but written on a same big subject, this way of working was for me much easier and quicker.

Now that I try never to print the text that I'm working on, it's 10 times more difficult to visualize clearly the content that I want to reach. Comments on the left side could help me.

The left is then important, because, we begin sentences or paragraphs at the left side of the page, and the titles are on the left side of the pages. So giving a title/subject to each paragraph or sentence doesn't make any sense at the right side of the page. 
All the more as, when I want to see my whole page with the comments, I have to change the size of the display, and the characters are then very little, and difficult to read for me. If the margin was at the left side, I would only need to see the margin + the left side of my text, and so stay on the same display size.

I just wanted to explain this. I don't know if my way of working is a marginal one, or if it really could help many people who are writing long argued documents.

Yesterday, I did as I was used to do before, I printed my document, and worked on it. I could realized then that it's 10 times easier to work that way. Suddenly my ideas were less confused, and I did the work so quickly. 

Maybe the solution is not to create a left comment margin, but to work with a tablet where I could use my handwriting mixed to the typed text. This would be probably the most suitable. But maybe this doesn't exist either? In fact I don't know.

Last precision. I'm French speaking, so I hope what I told is understandable. Sorry for a so long description.
Comment 12 Heiko Tietze 2020-12-14 17:58:32 UTC
We can keep your request until a volunteer picks it up. As Stuart and me commented, it's just an unusual workflow and adding the option has not much benefit for the majority but an impact on usability.

(Bad) workaround is to use left/right sides and the book view mode (the icons in the status bar left of the zoom slider, see [1]). By doing that you get comments for left sides to the left. Not really what you want but perhaps an idea for a developer.

[1] https://help.libreoffice.org/7.1/en-US/text/swriter/main0208.html
Comment 13 calisperabe 2020-12-15 20:04:10 UTC
Thank you for the answer. I understand that it's unusual. But it was worth to explain it. In fact, in my opinion, if there is only one margin where to place the comments, it should be the left one. But if ever someone would move the comments to the left, many people would askto put it back on the right side ;-)