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parallel texts problems: solution?

 
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:10 am    Post subject: parallel texts problems: solution? Reply with quote

I think it is generally accepted that to make a parallel text, i.e., two parallel running texts, say, in two different languages, a table is the proper (maybe only?) formatting tool to use. When I've done parallel texts in Word and Abiword, I've created a table of 2 columns and 1 row, then copied and pasted in my texts. It didn't work under OOo 1.x, since table columns rows couldn't span page boundaries in that series. The table row/column page-spanning problem is supposed to be fixed in the 2.x branch, though.

But I still have problems with it. Sure, table rows/columns can span pages fine-- up to a certain point. The longer the document, the more poorly the program responds and the harder to achieve results. At a certain point, OOo becomes unuseable for this. That is, if one is using the 2 column, 1 row format that seems most sensible for this.

Just now, for example, I am trying to create such a Greek/English parallel document under OOo 2.0.2. It's a moderately lengthy text called the "Letter of Aristeas." In my parallel text, it's taking up about 61 pages. I would appreciate it if someone could try to create the same parallel text and let me know if they experience similar problems. The problems are program crashes and alot of program hanging. Really it's almost unuseable. Let me provide some links to the texts. The Englsih version can be found here: http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/ot/pseudo/aristeas.htm . The Greek version can be found here: http://www.uwo.ca/kings/ocp/index-Aristeas.html (you'll have to do some clicking around to get all the text to show: it's a one chapter, 322 verse work). I've done some page reformatting, decreasing the default margins a bit. I've made the table so that there is zero distance to the text. I also inserted a header for page numbering--nothing really extraordinary in the way of page formatting. I also de-webized the Greek text (went to Format > Character and removed the url).

If you try this and your experience with poor useability is the same, can you perheps suggest some workarounds? Perhaps I should have created rows and made the text break across several rows as well? In any case, if my experience with useability problems extends to other machines, platforms and users, we really need to come up with a workaround way of dealing with OOo's poor handling of parallel texts of any length and the use of table(s) for formatting them.

James
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't have any great problem with it, though a much longer text might be difficult.

I used a three column table with a narrow central column to separate the columns. I used Gentium font, which displays the Greek text nicely.

I inserted page numbers in footers, and the title in a header. Then I changed the page format to A5 and the point size to 10 point by editing the paragraph style. The document is now 75 pages. No crashes. A slight delay while the text reformats, seconds rather than minutes. No crashes.

I'm using OO 2.02 on Windows ME. My PC is a 1Ghz AMD Athlon cpu with 384 Mbytes of installed memory, 32 Mbytes of which is used for on-board S3 graphics. If my old PC can cope OK, I don't think there is much wrong with Open Office. For a longer book, I would suggest splitting each chapter into a separate table.

I have uploaded my test document so that you can look at it.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for trying that out, Bhikkhu. I'm not having the success you have even though my machine's a bit more powerful (twice as much RAM). I'm trying to figger out what's going on. The main problems I run into seem to occur when I try to manipulate text in the English column. Specifically, I'm trying to get rid of paragraph marks. Could I ask that you try removing all paragraph marks from the English text? I can't succeed either in my two-coulmn table document, or just in a regular document with no table. I also changed the Greek font to Gentium, btw.

Further input would be appreciated. Maybe it's not OOo's fault, as I thought? Seems there's something wierd about the English text.

James
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BillP
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many characters are in the document? Paragraphs are limited to 64K characters.
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bobharvey
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that any WP can do this well, particularly with regard to automatic alignment.

You might be better off with linked frames than a table, as you can align the tops of new frames when there is anatural break.

Or use a proper DTP programme.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BillP wrote:
How many characters are in the document? Paragraphs are limited to 64K characters.

That sounds like the culprit. I'm trying to make essentially one long paragraph. The whole document contain 195K characters, so it stands to reason that one of my paragraphs could be over 64K characters. Thanks for the pointer, BillP.

James
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some summary remarks to this thread based on some further experimentation. Once I got some paragraph divisions into the English language column of this parallel text, the document did behave more sanely. But I still had performance issues and program hanging when I would open and scroll through or edit the document. I decided to recreate the whole thing using a table of many (as opposed to just one) rows. That document, while it still puts some strain on the computer, gives me much better system performance than did the two column, one row (61 page) table document. My recommendation, then, would be when creating a lengthy parallel text document like this, to try and break up your columns into rows if possible. The document I made, at least on this system (OOo 2.0.2 on Debian Unstable, 1.4 Ghz Celeron, 768 MB RAM) is much more manageable when the table has many, a opposed to just one, row(s).

James
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