Bug 38295 - Many margin comments/notes are complicated to use
Summary: Many margin comments/notes are complicated to use
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Writer (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Hardware: All All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
: 125976 (view as bug list)
Depends on:
Blocks: Writer-Comments
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2011-06-14 06:02 UTC by Sam L
Modified: 2023-08-31 10:59 UTC (History)
10 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:

Notes example.odt (11.12 KB, application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text)
2012-03-04 03:19 UTC, Sam L
sample (380.57 KB, application/wps-office.docx)
2016-09-14 00:48 UTC, Yousuf Philips (jay) (retired)
example styling in html (should work properly in firefox) (5.50 KB, text/html)
2019-08-13 02:35 UTC, DarkTrick
example styling as png (301.72 KB, image/png)
2019-08-13 02:35 UTC, DarkTrick

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Description Sam L 2011-06-14 06:02:16 UTC
In  my personal view, the Notes feature at present is designed in such a way as to be confusing if a document contains a significant number of notes. This view is based on personal experience dealing with large documents such as thesis drafts. 

Here's a demonstration of what it looks like at the moment (http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/w/images/thumb/f/fd/Notes2_Screenshot_CurrentVersion.png/800px-Notes2_Screenshot_CurrentVersion.png). Notice the sticky notes in the margin and the arrows following from those notes to the relevant text within the document. If the user mouses over a note the arrow that follows from that note to the relevant text, becomes more solid and hopefully more readable. Unfortunately, this is only helpful if the document contains a small number of notes, where the notes are relating to text that is not on nearby lines.

If the document has a large number of notes or notes relating to text that is close together, visually following the arrow from the note to the text and comprehending to which piece of text the note pertains, becomes an arduous task indeed.

I would like to suggest this feature be redesigned to allow for a more effective Notes solution in Writer. For example, instead of the notes requiring space in the margin and having the user need to follow the arrow from the note to the text, perhaps a more helpful implementation would be to have some sort of visual que indicating a particular piece of text has a relevant note and reveal the content of that note on extended mouse over? Such a solution if I am not mistaken exists in other office suits such as Microsoft Office.

Comment 1 Björn Michaelsen 2011-12-23 12:24:58 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 2 sasha.libreoffice 2012-02-29 06:43:30 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 3 Sam L 2012-03-04 03:19:32 UTC
Thank you for your comment. I have crafted an example document to
demonstrate the problem. It is certainly extreme in the amount of
notes I've added  but I believe there are cases like my own where it
is common to have that many notes.

I tested Calc and see that as a starting point for a solution. My only
comment would be that for the visually impaired such as myself perhaps
the "dot" indicating a note could be more visible and of a different
colour? I have no UI experience so will leave such deliberations to
those who know more about them.

Please let me know if I can provide anything that will be of assistance.

- Sam
Comment 4 sasha.libreoffice 2012-03-05 04:44:21 UTC
Thanks for attachment. It demonstrates problem with comments in Writer
Thanks for investigating problem in Calc: comment indicator is too small
I agree that those things may be improved 
Meanwhile, try export document from Writer to pdf, comment will be as tooltips
Comment 5 Adolfo Jayme Barrientos 2015-01-05 10:33:36 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 6 Heiko Tietze 2016-09-13 14:03:06 UTC
(In reply to Adolfo Jayme from comment #5)
> CCing UX-Advise.

Indeed the issue is still present and annoying. As a simple solution I recommend to highlight the document pointer and to focus/highlight the respective note when a word/paragraph with a comment or the note itself is clicked. (The Calc way of dealing with notes seems to be counterproductive to me.)

That could be done for instance in a slightly darker color (today there is only a frame around the marked area which is not helpful for notes at a single character). 

I wonder if this is an Easyhack (NEEDINFO for the codepointers). Changing component to Writer as it affects only this tool.
Comment 7 Yousuf Philips (jay) (retired) 2016-09-13 16:40:19 UTC
LO's current behaviour is to shrink cluttered comments to show 3 lines and show a scrollbar to access the rest of the text. Instead it would be useful to keep the main comment intact or partially shrunk and collapse the nested comments until the user chooses to expand them by clicking a 'show X nested comments' below the main comment and once clicked, it would expand the hidden nested comments and collapse other opened nested comments. This showing nested comments behaviour could also be triggered by clicking on the comment highlighted text. But ultimately the entire comment design and behaviour needs to be revamped.
Comment 8 Heiko Tietze 2016-09-13 19:01:37 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 9 Yousuf Philips (jay) (retired) 2016-09-14 00:48:10 UTC
Created attachment 127323 [details]

(In reply to Heiko Tietze from comment #8)
> I cannot follow your nested comment idea. What do you mean with "to shrink
> cluttered comments..." when you open the attached example?

I wasnt using the attached example as the basis of my comment, as all of the comments in that doc are 1 or 2 lines and none are nested comments, which you would find in real world examples. I've attached the document i was using to give my explanation.
Comment 10 jani 2016-09-14 06:18:34 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 11 Heiko Tietze 2016-09-14 06:49:13 UTC
(In reply to Yousuf Philips (jay) from comment #9)
> I've attached the document i was using to give my explanation.

So you mean a reply to a comment. I'd say this question has to be covered in a different ticket. When you reply on a comment it creates another comment that is directly attached to the previous (whereas all other have some margin between). And it is labeled as "Reply to...". Not too bad.

But your example shows clearly the need to deal with long comments, the scrollbar is awkward. To keep this ticket an easyhack I'm still in favor of putting the issue into another ticket. However it would be an idea to enlarge the selected comment to show 20 lines or so (and shrink it down to 3 after deselection). And that might be solved when someone touches the highlight on selection thing.
Comment 12 Yousuf Philips (jay) (retired) 2016-09-14 18:52:04 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 13 Heiko Tietze 2016-09-14 20:52:10 UTC Comment hidden (no-value)
Comment 14 Xisco Faulí 2016-09-27 10:36:05 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 15 jani 2016-10-25 13:05:52 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 16 Heiko Tietze 2017-01-14 09:18:54 UTC
Suggestion from comment 6 is sill valid, ideally with a solution to comment 7. Removing UX to bring this forward into production.
Comment 17 Heiko Tietze 2019-08-08 08:41:04 UTC
*** Bug 125976 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 18 DarkTrick 2019-08-13 02:35:06 UTC
Created attachment 153331 [details]
example styling in html (should work properly in firefox)

My suggestion for the UI regarding coloring looks as described below.

  - The attachment writer_comment_UI_example.html shows a living   example of the description below (without lines for comments, because they are difficult
  - The attachment writer_comment_UI.png shows an example of the transparency of unfocussed comments.

Not selected / focussed comment:
  - transparency of background / marking / text is 50%.
  - marked text has dashed border

Comment selection:
  - Definition: 
      - mouse cursor is hovers over comment area.
      - mouse cursor is hovers over marked text.
  - transparency of text marking border becomes 0%.
  - transparency of marked text becomes 0%.
Comment focus:
  - Definition:
      - typing cursor is inside a comment
  - like selected comment, but:
     - border width increases.
     - dashed lines are solid.
Further improvement
There is still a problem, if comments and text are so far away, that both cannot be shown on screen. As solving that problem makes things more difficult, I only focussed on coloring / styling in this post.
Comment 19 DarkTrick 2019-08-13 02:35:54 UTC
Created attachment 153332 [details]
example styling as png
Comment 20 Xisco Faulí 2020-03-09 13:28:25 UTC Comment hidden (off-topic)
Comment 21 Eyal Rozenberg 2020-03-09 18:28:18 UTC
(In reply to DarkTrick from comment #18)
> There is still a problem, if comments and text are so far away, that both
> cannot be shown on screen. As solving that problem makes things more
> difficult, I only focused on coloring / styling in this post.

Two things to consider in this context:

1. Making the note font constant regardless of document zoom: The notes are not part of the document, and should just keep their font size. This will mean that as you zoom in, you'll only need to consider the notes for less of the text.

2. Allowing notes to take up more of the viewport: Not just a bar on one side, but as there are more and more notes - bars on both sides, and eventually the talmudic style of surrounding the main text with the commentary, see:


of course, that doesn't have any graphics relating the point in the text to the point in the commentary, but you can see the small central area and the large area surrounding it.
Comment 22 DarkTrick 2020-03-10 10:31:04 UTC
> This will mean that as you zoom in, you'll only need to consider the notes for less of the text.

Then I would "at least expect" a separate zoom functionality for the comments - for people, that cannot read the default font size. (Sometimes systemwide Font-size change is no option)
Comment 23 gmolleda 2020-05-12 11:48:35 UTC
Esperanto: (English below, Español debajo)
Mi pensas, ke kiam estas multaj notoj kun longa teksto pri ĉiu, ne estas legeble, ke iuj notoj eĉ estas metitaj en alian paĝon pri la teksto, al kiu ili aludas.
Mi pensas, ke solvo estus duobla (ambaŭ fareblas samtempe):
1.- Permesu plilongigi la larĝon de la kolumna komento ĉar la monitoroj estas tre larĝaj nuntempe.
2.- Permesu meti plurajn tipojn de videbloj, elekteblaj en menuo de la titolo de komentoj kaj en la vidbenda menuo por diversaj manieroj vidi la komentojn, la formoj povus esti:
a) Vidu montratajn komentojn
b) Vidu nur unu linion kun + por aperigi la komenton, kiun ni elektas.

Triono estus povi movi la komentojn por flosi kiel balonoj sur la ekrano, krom povi ekspansiiĝi aŭ retiriĝi per + butono sur ili.


I think that when there are many notes with a long text on each one, it is not legible that some notes are even put on another page regarding the text to which they refer.
I think a solution would be twofold (both can be done at the same time):
1.- Allow to lengthen the width of the comments column because the monitors are very wide nowadays.
2.- Allow to put several types of visualizations, eligible in a dropdown from the comments title and in the view menu for different ways to see the comments, the forms could be:
a) See displayed comments
b) See only one line with a + to display the comment we choose.

A third would be to be able to move the comments to float like balloons on the screen, in addition to being able to expand or retract with a + button on them.

Thank you.

Pienso que cuando hay muchas notas con un texto largo en cada una, es poco legible que incluso se pongan unas notas en otra página respecto al texto al que hacen referencia.
Creo que una solución sería doble (ambas cosas pueden hacerse a la vez):
1.- Permitir alargar el ancho de la columna de comentarios porque los monitores son muy anchos hoy día.
2.- Permitir poner varios tipos de visualizaciones, elegible en un desplegable desde el título de comentarios y en el menú ver para distintas formas de ver los comentarios, las formas podrían ser:
a) Ver comentarios desplegados
b) Ver solamente una línea con un + para desplegar el comentario que elijamos.

Una tercera sería poder mover los comentarios para flotar como globos en la pantalla, además de poderse expandir o retraer con un botón + en ellos.

Comment 24 DarkTrick 2020-06-26 23:51:50 UTC
> 1.- Allow to lengthen the width of the comments column because the monitors are very wide nowadays.
In general I think this is a good idea. I think there have been already a bug about this.

> b) See only one line with a + to display the comment we choose.
I'd say `...` is usually used in these cases.

I like both.
Comment 25 Dieter 2020-11-03 10:58:47 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 26 Eyal Rozenberg 2020-11-04 10:07:12 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 27 Dieter 2020-11-04 10:37:07 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 28 Buovjaga 2020-11-04 11:00:15 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 29 Dieter 2020-11-04 11:08:26 UTC Comment hidden (obsolete)
Comment 30 Gauthier 2020-11-06 08:48:22 UTC
I'd say that this feature is very important! LO is a great piece of software but working with document with lots of comments is still a big issue. It's hardly possible to follow. The visible part of a comment is tiny (you have to scroll within the comment which makes it hard to follow); comments are not aligned with the text, etc.
I had to open the doc with LO online to be able to work (which handles the display of comments a bit better, though also has issues). As much as I resent Google, LO could do with getting a little inspiration from Google Docs hen it comes to usability.
Since collaboration on docs has become very normal, I thin it should be a priority for LO to address the redesign of the comment function.

Adjusting the width of the comment column/pane seems like good first step to address issues with the display of comments.

In addition, making it easier and more dynamic to select comments in a doc so it's more aligned with where the comment relates to in the text (again, in docs with lots of comments it's currently difficult sometimes to find / select the right comment).