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Bug 63374 - calc gives no visual clue about enter/edit cell mode
Summary: calc gives no visual clue about enter/edit cell mode
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Calc (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Inherited From OOo
Hardware: Other All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Keywords: needsUXEval
: 116447 (view as bug list)
Depends on:
Blocks: Calc-UX Cell-Edit-Mode
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2013-04-10 11:45 UTC by almos
Modified: 2020-11-28 12:30 UTC (History)
6 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:


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Description almos 2013-04-10 11:45:56 UTC
Calc mimics the behavior of MS Excel: start typing into a cell, and you get into 'Enter' mode (enter/tab/cursor keys commit and step to an other cell), and F2 activates 'Edit' mode (only enter/tab commit changes). However, Excel shows the current state in the status bar, whereas Calc doesn't. This is highly confusing.

UI: this whole Enter/Edit distinction seems totally wrong to me, but it's worth keeping for compatibility with Excel.
Comment 1 tommy27 2014-01-02 14:20:08 UTC
confirmed. enhancement request. inherited from OOo.

how exactly Excel gives such a visual clue? could you provide a screenshot or description?
Comment 2 almos 2014-01-02 15:19:30 UTC
In excel the cell mode is shown in the bottom left corner (on the statusbar). See
Comment 3 almos 2014-12-06 13:57:28 UTC
Any update on this? I think this is a major usability problem in Calc.
Comment 4 Buovjaga 2018-03-17 16:43:36 UTC
*** Bug 116447 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 5 Thomas Lendo 2018-12-28 00:01:28 UTC
Adding needsUXEval to discuss the possible implementation(s) within the design/UX team.
Comment 6 Heiko Tietze 2020-10-28 13:30:47 UTC
Don't see the use case when this status bar information would be needed.
Comment 7 Cor Nouws 2020-11-11 14:41:25 UTC
(In reply to almos from comment #2)
> In excel the cell mode is shown in the bottom left corner (on the
> statusbar). See
> HA010222505.aspx

A selected cell has a clear border indication.
A cell in editing mode, does not have that.

So how clear do you want to show the difference :)

For me changing is not adding relevant user feedback. A WFM, I would say.
Comment 8 Heiko Tietze 2020-11-12 09:06:49 UTC
We discussed this topic in the design meeting.

While "Edit"/"Enter" resp. F2/"just type" makes arrow effective or not, and the "Point" information shown in formula edit mode, are different modes, it's quite clear what action you started. Plus, it's barely usable to require a glimpse at the statusbar. And since we also have quite a lot information in the statusbar, we decided to not implement the feature.
Comment 9 Severo Raz 2020-11-28 12:30:21 UTC
Here is a request that the UX Team please consider my points on why this is actually a valuable feature.

For the sake of clarity, let's call the mode where arrow keys move the cell cursor "cell-cursor mode" and the mode where arrow keys permit navigation within the edited text "text-cursor mode".  Let's say that they're both cursor modes.   Let's call the cell whose formula you're editing "formula cell".

These cursor modes are relevant when you are editing the formula of a particular cell.  While cell-cursor mode is the default when you start entering a formula into a cell by pressing "=" and is very useful for referencing nearby cells by navigating towards them with the arrow keys, text-cursor mode is necessary for modifying previously entered parts of your formula.  Even if you never make mistakes when entering your formulae, you might need text-cursor mode to make modifications to formulae if you want to use them for a slightly different purpose elsewhere.

Now, if while entering the formula in a cell, you happen to switch back-and-forth between text-cursor and cell-cursor modes several times, it is not impossible that you'll forget which mode you're on.  This is where a visual indication of what mode you're in would be useful.  Having it is not _essential_, but certainly can improve the user experience: if you think you're in text-cursor mode and press an arrow key, but you're really in cell-cursor mode, you will insert at least 3 characters (the address of the cell which your cell-cursor presently points at) in the formula cell which you will have to delete.  Having a visual indication can prevent this, arguably without negatively impacting user experience.

Now, I don't think MS Excel's approach is actually that useful: in the past I've preferred winging it and possibly deleting some characters than looking at the status bar to see which mode I'm in.  (I've criticised in the past when people have argued that a feature shall not be implemented in LO simply because MS Excel doesn't have it.)

I think some not terrible ways to implement this cursor mode visual indicator would be:

* Changing the cursor in the cell formula between a line and a block, where a block cursor indicates you're in cell-cursor mode.
* Adding a border to the formula cell, albeit one styled differently than the cell-cursor border. For example, the formula cell border during cell-cursor mode could have a dashed stroke.
* Changing the background color of the formula cell slightly according to the cursor mode.
* Adding arrow icons in all four directions of the cell under the cell-cursor while on cell-cursor mode; removing these icons while in text-cursor mode.

Anyway, these are just some ideas. I'm sure the UX team can come up with something better.

Sorry for the long comment.