LibreOffice Draw Observations

I continue learning LibreOffice Draw. I am not an artist and drawing does not come natural to me.

Copying objects. I had been performing a traditional copy and paste with objects. A challenge with this approach is the copied object get auto-pasted exactly on top of the original object. I nicer way is duplicating the object. Select the Edit->Duplicate menu. The duplication process creates a new image that is offset from the original image.

Aligning objects. For some reason some objects do not allow making a respective text box caption. A separate text box is required and then the two objects need to be grouped. For example, I wanted to align the top of the text box caption to the bottom of the object. Despite the alignment and distribution tools I found no direct way to accomplish my goal. My work-around is to use snap lines. Create a snap line, align the object’s bottom to the snap line and then the top of the text box likewise.

Aligning objects. When I tried aligning objects I noticed that LibreOffice Draw does not anchor the alignment based on the first selected object. This seems common sense to me. A bug report is open about the issue. A trick I discovered reading the bug report is locking the position of the first object and then align all objects.

Tables. Tables in Draw are severely limited compared to Writer. I have not found a way to numerically adjust column widths. Many times I have been unable to select and cut tables. Tables seemed irrevocably locked with the Fit height to text attribute. Inserting a field when a table is not in a background page does not change the table height. Inserting a field in a table in a background page is treated like raw text and adjusts the table height — even when the table size is locked. Tables using fields automatically resize upon opening.

Tables in page backgrounds. Draw does not support page styles or master pages like Writer, but does support some kind of master page. When a table is used in the master page, the user is in Normal view, and the cursor hovers over that underlying table, the cursor will remain in text mode (I-beam). I tried to create a page border in the master page with a single table. This affected Normal view as I was unable to select multiple objects with drag selection. I finally figured out to use a rectangle shape to create my background border.

Fields. There are only a few fields in Draw compared to Writer. There is no Title field in Draw that I can find. There is a Slide Name that more or less can serve the same purpose. Why there is such weak support for fields is a mystery.

Connectors. Sometimes I have seen connectors change position. An annoying bug. Another huge annoyance is the connector bending algorithm. The algorithm does not avoid other objects and does not always include bend handlers to position the connector. The only solution I found is using two connectors end-to-end.

Zoom. Often I have to zoom in using large percentages so I can manipulate objects. For some reason using the mouse pointer in Draw lacks precision. Often I have clicked an object but another object gets selected. Or I will use mouse drag to select multiple objects and one of the objects will not select. I then have to use Shift-Click.

Using LibreOffice Draw is becoming one of those love-hate relationships.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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