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Not a review of Koffice, per se, but a proposal that the Koffice suite 2.1.0 presents a paradigm shift in how one interacts with such software and how YOU can easily promote the use of ODF. Word count: approximately 2,954

Kword, two paradigm shifts, the "you can justs" and how YOU can make a difference.

This will not be a review in the normal manner. There will be no discussion of the latest "gee-whiz" applet or capability of Koffice like being able to, oh, I dunno... have 4,329 fonts.

No, this review is about the particular "paradigm shift" which Kword and Koffice 2.1.0. , in it's latest iteration, that of 2.1.0, offers.

And, also, how the gentle reader can carry out another, well stated, and often discussed paradigm shift that is at the heart and soul, supposedly, of Linux. Problem is that there is a lot of talk about it and little action on the part of many.

What is a paradigm shift you ask?

Well, it is kind of like the old Abbot and Costello skit about "a para tens for a five"....

Only in this case it is a para...dimes for a nickle! :)

Not...!! Bad joke, bad woodsmoke!

No.... a paradigm shift is a "fundamentally different way of looking at things, or a fundamentally different way of dealing with things".

Paradigm shifts are usually discussed when talking about "society" changing.

And, from a "societal" standpoint(political that is) not all paradigm shifts are good. One might think of the paradigm shifts that have occured in the tired new/old world within which we live and move and have our being over the last hundred or so years.

Some people try to "force" paradigm shifts on society, and that is not a good thing either. Just because a few people want to change things does not mean that the rest of the "societies" in the world want such a change.

Sometimes people get hurt by paradigm shifts and the people who made the shifts consider such unfortunates to be impediments to a new world and good riddance, their loss will only reduce the surplus population.

However, some paradigm shifts can be helpful. One case in point being the shift from writing on stone to writing on paper. Not much of a shift in our "hindsight view" but a massive one to the people who experienced it.

One might consider the writings of Marshall McLuhan in this respect. Many people of Western cultures may have vaguely heard of his book the Medium is the Massage but almost none know that the really more useful books, written earlier by him, are "the Gutenberg Galaxy" and Understanding Media. The first mentioned deals with the EFFECTS upon society of the change to moveable type from hand transcription.

The latter, Understanding Media, was written when the computer was only a glimmer in the eye of some but it still has great meaning today. It moves beyond Gutenberg Galaxy in that it also, deals with how the "new media" changes the information itself. But, it moves beyond the earlier work in that it makes a forceful case about how the "medium" can "change" the information even though the "plain words" or "plain pictures" are the same as in another medium.

The medium massages the message.

A very bald example is what happened to an island society that saw a "god" descend from the sky, but it was really an airplane crashing. They underwent a paradigm shift.

The book The Medium is the Massage is the most "simplistic", but not "simple", book of the three. It was "only" a juxtaposition of one or two words and an image on the page that was an attempt to get people to ....

"Think out of the box"....which is modernese for paradigm shift.

Because the book presaged ARPANET by two years, McLuhan was hailed as a "prophet".


One of the great ideas from the second book and the Medium is the Massage was that of "hot and cold" media. That is media which "insists" upon interaction by the user and other media which are merely "observed"..

Enter, now, what I consider to be the particular paradigm shift of Kword.

Like the book Understanding Media, which was just 318 pages in paperback, one does not have to have reams and reams of paper to introduce a really good idea.

For lack of a better term, I will use the term, the "view" or "layout" of Kword when discussing the paradigm shift.

By the "view" or "layout" I mean the default arrangement of items on the right(also configurable to the left) of the most commonly used items in document processing, image proecessing etc.

When one is using the latest Kword; the appearance is as of one working on a "tablet". The right side of the tablet displaying the most commonly used functions of a word processor(or imaging in Krita, etc.).

To the right of the document itself is a wide panel that is the length of the document segment on the screen.

I will not provide an image here and will instead direct the gentle reader to this:


In the default view, ON THE RIGHT SIDE starting at the top and working your way down is a "sub panel" which is labled "Kword" and it includes things like the text editing tools, drawing simple things like arrows, etc.

Below that is a sub-panel named "statistics" and below that is a sub-panel named "tool options".

In the Tool Options sub-panel are buttons for particular things like left, center and right justify, underline and bold which are to the IMMEDIATE right of the document window, strike through and such. Below those are buttons are text color and such.

The sub-panel below that is for shapes which can be added etc.

Above the document, is the "normal toolbar" and one finds things like "view" and "format" and "frames" etc.

Nothing here is new.

"So..........old woodsmoker..........what the hey!?" you say!

"What's the big deal about that? They just put the stuff on the right hand side, you can do that in other word processors, so....?"

"I mean, you can just..." you say.

"Ahhhhhhh there's the rub!", as a certain Shakespearan character once said....

"There's the rub!".............the "you can justs"!

How many times has a new, and possibly useful idea been dismissed with the words: .."Well, you can just....".

When I have indicated this arrangement of Kword to people who have seen me working on a document and I've drawn their attention PARTICULARLY to the above noted arrangement the unanimous response is...."So what"....."It's just....."


Until one has USED it for a while....it is just a...."it is just...."

But,..... consider if you would....... the MOTION OF THE HAND......

When one clicks the bold button in a "normal" word processor you have to move the mouse AND YOUR HAND AND ARM.. up to the top of the document, hit the button and move back down.

In like manner, in most word processors, the "shapes" and such like are in a panel below the document, which again, forces a complete movement of the hand.

Yes, there are those gurus of the mouse among us that can roll the wheel and do it, but how many people have you REALLY watched that do that on a regular basis? And, also, one can use various keystrokes to do things, or set scripts to do them, but again, how many "average" users do those things?

To reiterate.

What is normally done by moving the whole hand and arm is done in Kword by "side movements" and short ones at that.

With the Kword arrangement, one merely "sweeps" the mouse to the right, possibly a little up or down, clicks the button and "sweeps" back.

Now, for the person who seldom uses a word processor this is no big deal.

But, if you work for hours using a word processor it IS a big deal.

It is a big deal becase of the number of ergs of energy or calories of energy used. It is a big deal in terms of repetitive motion(yes, both motions are repetitive, but at least in this case the motions are kind of "split" between movements above and to the side).

Consider, if you would. the number of seconds, minutes, or hours at the end of a month or a year that would be saved by this small thing, this "paradigm shift" in the arrangement of the default motions.

"Well..........again...........old bean....... you can put similar arrangements of buttons and such to the right of just about any wordprocessor if you try." You reply.

And, I must reply in the affirmative, yes, you can!

But......the Koffice people SEEM to have put considerable effort into WHERE this stuff is placed. The things don't seem to be just stuck in there "alphabetically" as it were... there is a logic, apparent to me at least, to the whole thing.

The "whole thought process" of MS Office, it seems to me, is based on the idea of the "subhead". One places this big thing, and then subheads, visually, and ergonomically, not in terms of "use" but in terms of "logical arrangement" of subheads in a menu.

Consider, if you would, the supposed "complete reworking" of the meus at the top of MSoffice in it's latest iteration, the "ribbon".

The........"ribbon"........... is a bunch of relatively ambiguous symbols in the place of "plain words" that actually indicate WHAT is in a menu........

In my humble opinion, the "ribbon" was an exercise in "we HAVE to do something "new" but at the same time NOT do anything new..."

GEEZE..........LOUIEEZE...........give me a break! When one is dealing with.....well........WORDS......then it would seem rather logical to....use.............uhhhhh WORDS in the menu system. Maybe not, but it seems so to me.

So....to reiterate, it is proposed that the Koffice folks have created a paradigm shift in the way that one interacts with document processing on a computer.

"Alright woodsmoke, you've beaten that paradigm shift to death, what about the other one?"

The other one is a paradigm shift that has been in front of Linux people all along but I'm going to put a "twist" on WHY it can be easily done when most people think that they can't.

The other paradigm shift is that of USING........not "ranting about the use of"... the "open document format".

"WHAT!?" You say...."EVERYBODY knows about that....".

Well, yes, everybody KNOWS about it, but, I might ask, how many people DO something about it?

Most folks, like me, couldn't produce a line of code for ODF if we were given a magical computer.

All that most folks can do is USE it.........

But............for some reason...........most Linux people .... DO NOT...use it.

The common complaint that one hears about the Open Document Format is that "it isn't completely compatible with MS office stuff".

And then we get off into YET AGAIN ANOTHER RANT about how MS "should" open it's code...

Well, such rants may look good on a rant forum but doesn't do much to actually change the situation.

OK....so......what can YOU do?

.....I reply.... that ....HERE..........is where YOU.......could make a paradigm shift.

I want to ask you ONE QUESTION.

Settle back, relax yourself, take a deep breath.

Slow your mind and.............think............. consider, reflect.............

Here.............is THE QUESTION!! :)

How often do YOU..... HAVE to DEAL with a digital MS document in terms of "interacting" with it?

Let me restate that.

How many times do YOU have to "give a digital file" to someone that requires that the file be in a MSoffice format? Or, to rephrase..., how often do you receive a digital MS document, and have to deal with it in some way, and then return it in the digital MS format?

Please stop and think about it.



And THINK about it.....please.

I don't know that there is a particular "study" anywere, maybe someone can post such a study, but I think that most people would agree that "most people"......

....... merely.....PRODUCE a document.

Notice the word "produce".

I think that "most" people do not "receive" a MS digital document, then.....oooohhhh wait for it..... and then have to......"massage" it... :) ..BAD PUN woodsmoke :) , and return it to the sender.

Most people....I think, possibly YOU, ..... merely........PRODUCE a document.

A docment that is "printed".

Or a document that sits on the computer and disappears into the oblivion of backup folders! :)

Most people produce a written assignment for school, or a written recipe, or a written letter to a friend, etc.

Now, unless a teacher want's a document to be submitted as a digital MS document, or the friend requires that you e-mail the letter as an attachment in MS word , or you have a recipe program that only accepts MS exchange format....

Unless you have to do those kinds of things...

YOU.....that is....you........just....print......the document.

That means that it can be PRODUCED..........with with ANY "processor" that is on your computer as long as the format produces a PRINTABLE document.

Consider that again..... most documents are produced to be printed.

(We will leave aside the argument that we are moving to a new digital age... I produce as evidence the number of "printers" that are sold on a daily basis.)


If one makes the "paradigm shift" that one usually PRODUCES a PRINT document

........ then it is of no import that Koffice may, or may not, interact with MS office.

That is the second paradigm shift......

If you don't have to interact with MS DIGITAL documents on a regular basis, you do not have to use a MS compatible program.

"But, you say........what about when you DO have to interact with MS office? !... HAH!! .....GOT YA on that one woodsmoke!"

To which I reply, that there are other open document processors that DO produce a MS compatible format.

Please let me reiterate.............again......that unless you have a need to interact with DIGITAL MS documents....you don't have to have a program that produces such documents.

To which you reply..........."AAAWWW that's a HASSLE".... and besides, then I have to have both word processors on the computer and there are also formatting problems.".

Let me put those concerns to rest.

a) The increased bloat on hard drive space of maintaining two office suites.

That was an arguable problem when we had ten gig hard drives and used MS products that needed fifteen gigs.

It is not a problem, no matter what you may feel about "bloat", when one has as a default 150 gig hard drive.

As an example. I am writing this on Koffice on a distro on a ten gig hard drive AND I have Open Office to export to when needed.

b) "Wellllll alllll right.........but what about FORMATTING PROBLEMS"?!

A valid concern I reply when...........WHEN............

You go FROM a MS format TO.........ODF......(this sometimes occurs in going from OO to ODF also, especially in things like "presentations" that have a mix of text and images on a "slide").

Not the other way around..........not in the move FROM ODF .....to..... OO...

I produce documents by the dozens......... sisters and cousins by the dozens..? Sisters and cousins and aunts....oops.....sorry.......a line from H.M.S. Pinafore! :(

I teach at a college that uses ONLY the latest and greatest MS products.

I produce, or modify, "presentations" for lectures every day.

When I first started at the college I was trying to move my MS ppts. FROM MS ....to....just Open Office......and had problems.... moving TO Koffice just blew them up. Nowadays, of course, I can easily open my MS ppts. in OO, but that is not the point.

The point is that after a while I saw the light.........I saw the light...no more darkness no more.......(NO I won't sing the song! :) )

I saw the light and started producing my NEW presentations in Koffice and migrated them through Open Office.

( And YES that is a hassle I could save myself, but I consider it to be a small one for advocacy of open formats.)

One last gasp....... "What about when you get a .docx from the school?" you rejoin.


FOR YOU....it doesn't matter how many .docx documents that........I.............little old me..............get from the school.

WHAT MATTERS.... is how many .docx documents.................YOU........get from ANYbody.

Yes, if you get documents by the dozens in MS formats then you should probably use OO or maybe Abiword or Gnumeric because it would save you more time than the time saved by "sweeping" a mouse right as opposed to moving your hand and arm to the top of the document....I can see the point..really....I can see the point.

As an aside: the latest Koffice will open a .doc format but will only save in ODF.

So.............enough of this...... .the two big ideas....

a) Koffice presents a paradigm shift in the way that one interacts with the buttons that format a document that will increase efficiency and ease of use.

b) Koffice and the Open Document Format presnt YOU with a paradigm shift in whch you can free yourself from proprietary formats....

Linux and the USE of Linux is supposedly all about freeing ourselves from the "chains of closed source bondage".

However, most people talk a good talk but do not take the trouble to walk the walk...

If YOU.......once make YOUR OWN paradigm shift....then you will have done more than most..

And your simple paradigm shift....that of USING what most people just TALK about can be something to tak about when you are visiting with a friend....and that person gives it a whirl, and another and another...

There is a saying to the effect that all great adventures start with a single step.

YOU............have ALREADY taken the first step merely by your use of a Linux distro....so...

How about taking another step?

How about making.........a paradigm shift which can eventually remake the world of information!

And............that's a good thing...........right!?

So....I hope this helps some one and if there are any questions.....just ask! :)


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Comments about this article
Keyboard combinations
writen by: Aeronaut on 2010-01-06 03:05:52
There is an even faster way to interact with a word processor.

Learn the keyboard combinations!

Instead of having to reach for the mouse every time you want to apply bold face, for example, you can just press Ctrl-B. This is much faster, and you do not loose tempo when working.

I learned the keyboard combinations for Word 2 when I was first confronted with Windows 3.0. And that's a long time ago.

Before that, I learned the commands for Word Star 3.0.

Working with a word processor has not become faster since the Word Star era - the user interface has just become fancier and uses more computer power.

The big difference for me was when I was able to get a Cherry G-80 keyboard, which is much lighter and faster to type on. By the way, I am a professional translator and type an average of 500,000 words a year.
RE: Keyboard combinations written by Aeronaut:
Well, not really.
writen by: dranorter on 2010-01-06 15:00:51
Firstly, I use a touchpad, with which I think I move up more easily than horizontally. I do much of my mouse movement with my thumb, keeping my fingers in touch-typing position. When I feel like it I use the touchscreen (with fingers resting on the edge of the screen, thumb poking at it). I never thought ergonomics made that much of a difference; my main thing is having more than one ways of doing things so that I have less repetitive movements.

I hardly think using a sidebar by default can be considered a paradigm shift, since there are advantages and disadvantages to both a sidebar and a top bar.

Secondly. I, a college student, don't need to print out my documents all that often. I tend to read things on the computer, and turn them in there when allowed (which it increasingly is; some teachers are surprised when I ask, but find it more convenient for them. I think people are only printing things out because they think others want them to). I also often convert documents to PDF regardless of what format I write them in.

Furthermore, what good does it do anyone to use ODF if it is just used to print out, or to convert to another format??

By the way, I like your weird writing style, mainly because I'm an amateur linguist (hoping to be professional), right now having just read "linguistics of punctuation" (highly reccommended!), and you use your punctuation creatively.
RE: Well, not really. written by dranorter:
an update to koffice and college students.
writen by: woodsmoke on 2010-09-28 23:52:27
Just as an update.
I teach biology and environmental science in a Midwestern U.S. college. It is specifically a "life sciences technology" campus.

Two semesters ago the lappys really took off in the classroom. Most of our classrooms have hardware docked towers at the student "desks" that are on the intranet. But the laboratories(where I lecture and do labs) do not. So, the students started bringing in laptops.

Last semester we saw the first "netbooks" and there are more this semester.

I actually had ONE....ONE student, a female, who had dual booted Win 7 and plain vanilla Ubu.(Her brother did it! lol) I was rather blown away. I visted with her and she is using Open Office, but I indicated the Koffice website and she looked around and when I discussed the idea of "what she did" with it... she acknowledged that yes if one did not have to actually interact with MS office that Koffice is a pretty good deal.

But, since the college is all about Win7, when in Rome do as the Roman's do.

But... at least she has HEARD of Koffice! lol

one can only do so much!

RE: an update to koffice and college students. written by woodsmoke:

Comment title: * please do not put your response text here