Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

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DIV
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Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by DIV » Sat Jan 30, 2021 11:03 am

Dear Tracker staff,
in previous versions of Editor (versions 6 & 7), I have been accustomed to being able to use tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool as if composing in a word processor — in other words, to insert largish spaces and achieve precise vertical alignment of text on different rows.

Sometime after version 7 this appears to have changed, because now in version 9 (I haven't tried version 8 ), the behaviour is very different.
Specifically, in version 9 of Editor Plus, the tab key on its own transfers the focus sequentially between different annotations made using the Typewriter Tool.

I am a keen supporter of providing keyboard functionality to expedite operations, and so from that perspective it is nice to have a simple way to cycle between the comments.
HOWEVER, I am not keen for that small gain to be made with the loss of functionality when composing the text that constitutes the comment itself.

A possible solution could be to assign the functionality to a different button / hotkey. The trouble with that is finding a suitable button or hotkey combination that isn't already assigned.
  • Tab = was assigned to typing a tabulation; then re-assigned to cycle 'forwards' between text fields.
  • Shift+Tab = was assigned to typing a tabulation (same as Tab alone); then re-assigned to cycle 'backwards' between text fields.
  • Ctrl+Tab = assigned to cycle 'forwards' between open PDF documents.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab = assigned to cycle 'backwards' between open PDF documents.
  • Alt+Tab = reserved in MS Windows to cycle 'forwards' between open applications.
  • Alt+Shift+Tab = reserved in MS Windows to cycle 'backwards' between open applications.
It is strongly intuitive that Tab should provide a tabulation while typing, therefore the functionality to cycle between text comments should be reassigned to something else.

Another way of doing this would be to separately define the functionality of the left-Shift versus right-Shift, or left-Ctrl versus right-Ctrl key. Although there's a precedent for this (e.g. PC games using the keyboard as the 'controller'; the Microsoft IME for Korean text), I don't expect that users would find it obvious at first.

My initial recommendation was to transfer the functionality to cycle between fields made with the Typewriter Tool to something involving Page Up and Page Down. This adds an advantage of having a natural directionality, and also the convention of these keys involving some sort of 'leap' within a document (in contrast to the arrow keys).
Currently, in version 9 I believe the following is set:
  • Page Up/Page Down = large scroll up/down page.
  • Ctrl + Page Up/Page Down = jump to top of previous/next page.
  • Shift + Page Up/Page Down = identical to Page Up/Page Down.
  • Alt + Page Up/Page Down = no obvious functionality
RECOMMENDATION:
From this list it seems that either Shift + Page Up/Page Down or else Alt + Page Up/Page Down would make excellent candidates for cycling between objects created by the Typewriter Tool. Thereby leaving the Tab key free again to just type tabulations!

ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATION:
The software already distinguishes between the situation where the field is merely selected, and when the text it contains is being edited. This is most obvious from the display of the object's Properties — e.g. for the Typewriter object as a whole selected, the border style is shown, whilst for the text within it being edited the Text object shows styles set for the character(s) and paragraph(s).
Therefore perhaps the best solution would be:
  • Tab key cycles between fields when the Typewriter object is merely selected.
  • Tab key types a tab character when editing the text content of a Typewriter object.
Although I thought of this afterwards, it now seems to be perhaps the best solution of all.

—DIV

P.S. Or maybe there is a clever setting to toggle this functionality on & off in the Preferences somewhere? I have to admit I haven't even looked....
...OK, now I've looked, and can't see it. A logical place to put such a setting might be under Commenting.

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Feb 03, 2021 12:30 am

Hi, DIV

Thank you for the feedback and input. To my knowledge, the change you are referring to in version 7 was something that we decided to do in order to keep our functionality more in line with our competitors (reducing the learning curve for new users). As such it is unlikely to change, for the very same reason.

Following that logic, while I can understand your points here, I do not see a large change in the logic of default hotkeys or these functions being implemented again. It would cause far too much confusion and annoyance for the countless users who have been using our software for years as it worked in the current handling if we suddenly changed numerous hotkeys they are used to circularly.

When we are less busy with the catch up after the new release, further discussion may be held over this topic, but I do not expect much to come of it.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Support: <Support@tracker-software.com>
Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

DIV
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by DIV » Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:54 am

TrackerSupp-Daniel wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 12:30 am
It would cause far too much confusion and annoyance for the countless users who have been using our software for years as it worked in the current handling if we suddenly changed numerous hotkeys they are used to circularly.
Hi, Daniel.
I think that was a misreading of my suggestions, because in no way was I suggesting changes to "numerous hotkeys". As a matter of fact, I was arguing to avoid exactly that!

You will notice that my first recommendation was to assign one of the following combinations for cycling between annotations:
  • Shift + Page Up/Page Down — current behaviour is identical to the simpler Page Up/Page Down, so it's unlikely that any users are accustomed to this; or
  • Alt + Page Up/Page Down — current behaviour is to to do nothing, so it's extremely unlikely that any users are accustomed to this.
I do acknowledge that two combinations would be reassigned according to the above proposal, namely Tab and Shift+Tab. Of course, that would involve reassigning them to the original behaviour of version 7 (and earlier)! You are implying that users managed to get used to the change from version 7 to version 8.

In my second (alternative) recommendation I proposed a setting that would actually be more intuitive than the current setting, and 'should' be what users expect the keys to do: while editing the text, tab functions to add a tab character, but when the annotation is merely selected (not being edited), the current behaviour of cycling forwards or backwards would be maintained.

You referred to an ambition to match the behaviour of other PDF software.
So do they all do exactly what the new behaviour of Editor is?
I don't have access to all of the latest versions, but I can tell you in an old version of Adobe's Acrobat Standard the behaviour is different: for a Text Box Tool object the Tab key cycles when editing the text (which I consider to be undesirable behaviour), but when the object is merely selected the Tab key does nothing (unlike Editor)!! In that program, when editing a Note Tool object the Tab key actually types a tab character — which is what Editor v9 also does with Sticky Note Tool objects. OK, so that may maintain consistency with Acrobat, but why on earth wouldn't users also 'expect' that the Tab key will cycle between notes, if they 'expect' it with other annotations?! When the Note Tool object is selected (not being edited), Tab does nothing in that version of Acrobat; that's different from Editor, which cycles indiscriminately across various types of annotation.
Foxit's PhantomPDF v7 does share the same behaviour as v9 of Editor with regard to typewriter annotations, but its behaviour with regard to Note objects is different: when editing a Note object the Tab key does nothing! I don't suppose you'd argue that users might be familiar with that undesirable behaviour and so therefore it should be replicated in Editor?! When the Note object is selected (not being edited), Tab cycles between Note objects only in that version of PhantomPDF; that's different from Editor, which cycles indiscriminately across various types of annotation.

—DIV

DIV
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Yet another alternative

Post by DIV » Sat Feb 06, 2021 5:17 am

If you don't like either of the previous two proposals, here is yet another alternative:
implement ASCII interpretation of codes typed in with Alt+[number], in which the number can have multiple digits and must be entered from the numeric keypad.
For a reference, see e.g. https://www.tools.oratory.com/altcodes.html

Currently Editor v9 correctly 'decodes' most characters entered in this fashion, such as Alt+32 for the space character, Alt+65 for uppercase "A", Alt+0215 for the multiplication symbol (×), and so on. (Preceding zeros are sometimes obligatory, sometimes optional. For instance Alt+032 and Alt+0032 also yield the space character, but Alt+215 yields an accented uppercase "I" (Î); Alt+00215 still yields "×".)
Unfortunately, Editor interprets Alt+9 (or Alt+09, etc.) as a visible character — namely "○" — rather than the (blank) tab character (" "). I am unsure as to whether this is a restriction of the operating system.

Operating System: Windows 8.1 x64.

—DIV

DIV
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The problem solved.

Post by DIV » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:43 pm

The short answer is that the correct response to my original post should have been:
"In version 9 of PDF-XChange Editor it is already possible to insert tab characters into a Typewriter Tool object by pressing Ctrl+Tab. This is a change from previous versions, where Ctrl+Tab only ever functioned to cycle between open PDF documents. Note that even in version 9 pressing Ctrl+Tab will still cycle between open PDF documents if the user is not currently editing a Typewriter Tool object."

I discovered this myself accidentally.

As a commentary on the above:
  • It's good that there is a fairly convenient way to still insert tab characters into a Typewriter Tool object (annotation).
  • The change from behaviours in versions 6 and 7 and the associated remapping of hotkey combinations is just as extensive as what I had mooted — if not more so — and arguably not quite as intuitive (although I do not propose 'unscrambling the egg').
  • It's unfortunate that the above answer wasn't forthcoming.
From what I can tell, the following functionality applies/applied.

Version 6:
No (obvious) way of typing a tab character into a Typewriter Tool object. Ctrl+Tab always cycles between open PDF documents, regardless of whether an annotation is being edited.

Version 7:
Easily type a tab character into a Typewriter Tool object by simply pressing the Tab key (or Shift+Tab) while editing the annotation. Ctrl+Tab always cycles between open PDF documents, regardless of whether an annotation is being edited.

Version 8:
Not tested.

Version 9:
Type a tab character into a Typewriter Tool object by pressing Ctrl+Tab while editing the annotation. Ctrl+Tab only cycles between open PDF documents if an annotation is not being edited.

—DIV

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:47 pm

Hi, DIV

I should apologize that my earlier post was brief and incomplete, I misread your statements, and though you had already discovered that ctrl+tab worked in V9 for adding a tab to comments like the typewriter.

Now as I mentioned before, currently we do not plan to make changes in this regard, but I have created a formal feature request for you on the matter. If we see more demand for these changes, it may be implemented. While internal only, you can ask me here or by email for a progress update by quoting the ticket number below:
RT#5488: FR: Suggestions to improve "tab" key handling with comments

I have refrained from reiterating your numerous requests in the ticket itself, and have instead opted here to provide a direct link to this topic. This way the Dev team can look over this thread when they are next considering features, and if they decide to do so, determine which of your suggestions are appropriate to implement.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Support: <Support@tracker-software.com>
Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

DIV
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by DIV » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:10 am

Thank-you, Daniel.

My motivation for the first post was that originally the only way I had found of creating a tab character in version 9 was to type it in some other application, copy the character in the other application, switch to Editor, and then paste the copied tab character into Editor. This seemed like an impractical workflow.

I was not expecting Ctrl+Tab to have been reassigned from its old functionality (albeit only while editing an annotation) to do this task. Nevertheless, the most crucial point is that there is indeed still some way of typing a tab character; it is of secondary importance what the keys assigned to that are.

In any case, if the Dev team are open to revisit the issue, then I would not wish for them to think that this forum thread contains numerous requests from me. Rather, there are several alternative suggestions for consideration, which — as I have said — should preferably result in "minimal" changes for the user. The previous suggestions should also be read with the knowledge that I was entirely unaware of the current Ctrl+Tab functionality when I raised them.

Regards,
DIV

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:12 pm

Hi, DIV

No worries there, I made sure to emphasize in the ticket that you had good ideas for how to improve this and that it might be prudent to pick one, or perhaps see if we can improve upon any of them. I am sure that when the Dev team get around to looking at this, there will be some discussion across the team before a decision is made.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Support: <Support@tracker-software.com>
Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

turnerje
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by turnerje » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:01 pm

Would it be possible to add a switch in preferences to allow adding a tab character while using the typewriter tool by just pressing tab instead of the Ctrl+tab?

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Using tabs in comments made with the Typewriter Tool.

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:31 pm

Hi, turnerje

Thank you for the request, while I still cannot promise that it will be implemented, the Dev team is aware of requests to offer an option to restore the old handling. The decision is in their hands now, so all I can do now is confirm that is is being considered.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Support: <Support@tracker-software.com>
Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

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