Text fragments in wollmux

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Introduction

The Concept of "Textfragments"

A "Textfragment" is part of a Writer document. A Textfragment can be as simple as you like (a single word, for example) or very complex (such as an entire letterhead template). Automatic assembly of Textfragments from different sources is an essential aspect of WollMux. This process makes it possible to harmonize city-wide requirements with department-specific requirements and to manage them centrally.

Paragraph formatting (i.e. styles) can be stored in their own Textfragments. This makes it possible to store fonts in a central file, not in each document. It also makes it possible to update the font used in a single place, without having to adapt each template separately.

Remark
The term "Textfragment" was selected to avoid confusion with the terms "text block", "snippet", or "clip", since these terms are primarily associated with manual selection and insertion by the end user.

References to Textfragments and automatic replacement

WollMux searches each newly-opened document for special commands, called Document Commands, which among other things can reference Textfragments that should be inserted. When WollMux finds a corresponding command, it automatically inserts the referenced Textfragment. It is a recursive process. This means it is possible for a Textfragment to reference one or more different Textfragments, which in turn can also reference one or more Textfragments! Complex content can be assembled from individual parts from various sources. This means WollMux is capable of true "document generation" or "document assembly."

Managing Textfragments; configuration and linking

Remark
This section reflects the original purpose of WollMux: managing Munich's documents.

All references are linked indirectly via a table. This table is specified in the wollmux.conf configuration file. It translates reference indicators to concrete files where the Textfragments are stored. The goal of this approach is to address changing city-wide, standard templates by changing only centrally-stored templates. Each department should be able to avoid massive changes in its own templates; the city-wide material should be provided automatically.

In accordance with the three-stage concept of WollMux, user-specific adaptations can be done without having to copy centrally-stored templates. For example, users can use their own footers without having to paste them into and adapt them to each template. Above all, it means the end user will never fall out of synch with centrally stored templates.

The task of managing individual Textfragment files is a department-level task. Typically these will be stored in corresponding folders on network drives, although WollMux also supports loading Textfragments via HTTP. How and when modified Textfragments are made available to the end user, and specifically how and when new city-wide Textfragments are made available, is left to each individual department.

Note that to date there is no WollMux mechanism for automatic distribution via city-wide software distribution. There is also no automatic caching of all Textfragments on the end user's computer. This task is left to individual departments via their normal method of data distribution to workstations.

Example: City masthead, department-specific content

Assume the city wants to adopt the following masthead for use in all external communication.

|---------|
|Header   |
|---------|
|         |
|         |
|---------|
|L| Footer|
|---------|

Let's assume that the header is the place for data such as caseworker name, department, et cetera. The footer holds information like bank transfer informaton, page number, et cetera. "L" indicates an area for department-specific logos.

Without WollMux, each department would have to make copies of such templates and insert their own logo. This is avoidable waste of resources. And if, for example, the city decides the logo needs to be on the right, the whole process needs to be redone:

|---------|
|Header   |
|---------|
|         |
|         |
|---------|
|Footer |L|
|---------|

Without WollMux, each department would have to modify each and every deparment-specific template. With WollMux, all the department has to do is use the centrally-provided city masthead, embedding their own header, footer and logo as Textfragment references. WollMux then automatically inserts the header, footer and logo when it opens the document.

Once again, all references are linked indirectly via a a table, which translates reference indicators into links to the concrete data files where the Textfragments are stored. In accordance with the WollMux-wide three-stage concept (city, department, end user), each department can partially modify or completely change the table in the wollmux.conf file, it's no problem for departments to use, modify, and replace an individual logo without needing to modify the layout, which is centrally stored.

Handling Textfragments and templates

WollMux doesn't distinguish between Textfragments and templates; in fact, each template is represented in WollMux as a Textfragment. The following passage, therefore, is as valid for Textfragments as it is for templates:

Transfer of paragraph formatting when Textfragments are inserted

When you insert a Textfragment in template, (for instance, with the document command insertFrag), there are two possibilities for transferring paragraph formatting:

Paragraph formatting is taken from the template

If the Textfragment to be inserted consists of an entire paragraph, the formatting of the Textfragment (usually a template itself) is used. The following image clarifies this behavior:

InsertFrag Absatzformate2.png

The template here is on the left. It contains the insertion point for the Textfragment. The contents of the Textfragment, which appears here on the right, is inserted into the template. The Textfragment is formatted "Standard", and the template is formatted "Bescheidstext".

Since the Textfragment consists of exactly one paragraph, it assumes the format of the template.

This allows you to create small Textfragments without worrying about how they're formatted. Only the content matters. Formatting only comes into play when the Textfragment is inserted. You can freely define in the template what style the Textfragment will eventually use.


Paragraph formatting is taken from the Textfragment

If the Textfragment to be inserted contains at least three paragraphs, of which the first and the last have no content, the Textfragment's paragraph formatting is used. After insertion, the two empty (and undesired) paragraphs are deleted. The following image clarifies this behavior:

InsertFrag Absatzformate1.png

The template (left) contains the insertion point "<Hauptabteilung>". The Textfragment is inserted here. The insertion point has "Standard" style set, the Textfragment the style "Hauptabteilung_Fachbereich".

After insertion of the Textfragment in the template, the inserted content retains the style "Hauptabteilung_Fachbereich". The two empty paragraphs at the beginning and end of the Textfragment are deleted. Only the desired content remains.

This lets you insert pre-formatted content in your templates if you like. In contrast to the previous example, pre-formatted content can span more than one paragraph. Just remember to add an empty paragraph at the beginning and at the end of the Textfragment.

Important Notes

  • In general, initial or final paragraphs that are empty get deleted after insertion. For this reason, use one or the other of the processes described above: either use a single, non-empty paragraph, or content enclosed by empty paragraphs.
  • An empty paragraph will also be deleted if the first paragraph is not empty.
  • A paragraph that contains only WollMux-specific directives or bookmarks will be considered empty. To retain a Textfragment that contains such information, make sure it contains at least one "space" character.
  • If a table is the initial content of a Textfragment, it must be preceded by an empty paragraph. If you don't do this, correct insertion is not guaranteed, and even if correctly inserted may not be in newer versions of WollMux.
  • If a table is the final content of a Textfragment, it must be followed by an empty paragraph. If you don't do this, correct insertion is not guaranteed, and even if correctly inserted may not be in newer versions of WollMux.

Behavior of the file extensions .odt und .ott

For the letterhead system, it doesn't make in difference in principal whether the the document is stored as "Document" (.odt) or as "Template" (.ott). If you open a document or Textfragment with the WollMuxBar, it's always opened "as Template". This means that a new document with the title "UntitledX" (where "X" is a number) is created, and document commands in the template are immediately evaluated.

If you open a template using the file system or a browser, it will be opened in the mode determined by the file extension. This means that if the file extension is ".odt", the document will be opened "as Document" for editing, and the WollMux commands it contains will not be evaluated. If the file extension is ".ott", it will be opened "as Template".

Using document commands in Textfragments

Remark
the terms "document commands" and "WollMux commands" are used interchangeably.

Embedding WollMux commands in a document

Here is a step-by-step example of how WollMux commands can be embedded in your own documents or templates:

WollMux insert WMCMD1.png

The command "insertFrag" is inserted between the square brackets "[]". Place the cursor between the two brackets.

Since WollMux commands are named bookmarks (or "Textmarks"), they can be created directly with "Insert->Bookmark":

WollMux insert WMCMD2.png

A brief dialog appears for bookmark creation. In the text field, enter the desired WM command, here "WM(CMD 'insertFrag' FRAG_ID 'test_a')". For the command to function, the referenced Textfragment "test_a" must be created and registered.

WollMux insert WMCMD3.png

Done! The command is embedded in the document. We can save the document with any name we like.

Navigation between WollMux commands, editing and deleting commands

Since WollMux commands are stored in bookmarks, and bookmarks are invisible by default, here's how to navigate between WM commands and normal text.

Assume the cursor is at the "." at the end of a sentence. We want to know:

  • which WM commands exist in the document in the first place,
  • how we can find the command we just created,
  • how we can edit a command after the fact,
  • and how we can delete a command.

WollMux navigate WMCMD1.png

A right-click on the string "Page 1 of 1" in the status bar, lower left, gives us an overview of all available bookmarks. Sice we haven't defined any other bookmarks, only our command appears in the example. A left-click on the command moves the cursor to the spot where our command should be inserted.

Another possibility, one that allows a quick view of all bookmarks and thus WM commands: the Navigator. Among other things, the Navigator shows all defined bookmarks, and with them WM commands. Start it with "Edit->Navigator" or more quickly via the function key F5:

WollMux navigate WMCMD2.png

Navigating
The Navigator displays all bookmarks and WM commands. A double-click takes the cursor to the command.
Editing
Right-click on an entry in the Navigator, then "Bookmark->Rename" and enter new command text.
Delete
Press the "Del" key to delete an entry selected in the Navigator.

Executing and testing WM commands

1) Save and close the template or document.

2) Reopen the template. WollMux automatically activates and runs all WollMux commands.

WollMux run WMCMD1.png

In the example shown, once opened the the text "Dieser Text kommt aus Textfragment 'test_a'" from the Textfragment 'test_a' is inserted at the command location.