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Composer Property Dialogs: Multiple use modes

by Charles Manske (

In an effort to simplify the Composer UI, we will start by considering what attributes are necessary for "basic' use, as in the Mail Composer, and what attributes are "advanced", for HTML website authors. The details on how to implement this will be decided at a later time. The primary choices seem to be:

  1. Progressive display of dialog: Include a button, probably near the lower right corner, that would expand a dialog to include the advanced controls. Thus each dialog can be used in the smaller, basic mode or in and advanced mode.
  2. Two sets of dialogs: A preference, changeable via a menu item and/or toolbar button, could be used to switch modes. A separate set of basic and advanced dialogs would be available.

This is a first draft anaylyzing the attributes that we include in the more complex 4.5 Composer dialogs. Dialogs not included in this list are deemed OK for both modes. Use the links to the dialogs to examine the current dialog images and behavior descriptions.

Dialog Basic Advanced
Image Properties Location (SRC. Includes Choose file button), Alt text (ALT), Leave at original location checkbox, Use as background checkbox, and Alignment (I'm not sure about this one.) All Dimension, and Space around images controls.
Remove Image map and Extra HTML buttons.
Link Properties Link Source text (needed only when there's no selected text or image) and link location (HREF. Includes Choose File button). Remove Link button, Target (named anchor) listbox and related radio buttons, and Extra HTML button.
Table Properties Number of rows, number of columns, border checkbox and width, alignment, and background controls (color and image) Height and width checkboxes and edit fields, spacing and padding, caption, and Extra HTML button.
Cell Properties Selection combobox with Previous and Next buttons, Content alignment (not sure about this) and background controls All controls in the Size and Text Style groups, and Extra HTML button.
Page Properties (General, Colors and Background, and Meta Tags)
We plan to reorganize into 1 or two new dialogs
Page title and Author edit fields, Normal text and background color [automatically calculate appropriate link, active link, and followed link colors]. Background color and image controls Description, Keywords, and Classification (from General tab).
Color schemes (not sure about this)
Everything in the Meta Tags properites tab. [I agree this can be simplified]
Horizontal Line All dimension attributes, Alignment, and 3-D shading
Note: Always act as if "Save settings as default" is checked.
Save settings as default, Extra HTML

Comments about other dialogs:

Character Properties

We are contemplating eliminating this dialog entirely. Most of the attributes are the basic text attributes that are easily changed via the toolbar, main menus, and context popup ("right mouse") menus. The only attributes not on the toolbar are Strikethrough, superscript, subscript, nonbreaking, and blink (which most agree we should not support any more!), but these are available in the Format | Style menu.

Paragraph Properties

The paragraph and list styles are also easily available from the toolbar and menus. The only attributes not available are the list bullet styles (what graphic is used for the bullet) and the numbering styles. I propose replacing the existing dialog with a simpler "List Style" dialog that is available only when the selection is within a list. It would allow you to change the list style (bulleted, numbered, definition [note: we don't support menu and directory lists any more]), Bullet Style (type of graphic or numbering pattern), and Starting number.