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Released: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.13

Printing and The "document modified" Status

Specification Proposal
Lutz Höger, Matthias Breuer, 09/21/2001


When a document gets opened, printed and closed, StarOffice asks whether the changes should be saved. Many users don't understand this and – depending on the current work situation – sometimes even feel uncertain about which decision they should make (Have I changed anything erroneously? Didn't I save my latest changes? ...)


When a StarOffice application, like Writer, receives the “print” command, it performs a couple of actions before it actually prints the document:

As it takes quite some engineering effort to find out whether or not these preparations actually change the document, the “modified” flag is set by default, as soon as an application starts the print preparations.

Of course it would be a better solution, if the applications knew whether changes were triggered by printing or by other actions. This would also give us the chance to change the warning message that's displayed when an unsaved, modified document gets closed. But the engineering cost to distinguish between the source of the changes is very high (first incomplete estimate: 1 week planning, at least 2 weeks of implementation, additional time for testing), and we don't feel like solving this problem is worth the cost.


As an alternative,more simple approach, we should offer an option that suppresses the modification of the “document modified” flag by the print process. This option would not be active by default, but if a user feels confused by the current behavior, he can choose to activate it.

Behind the scenes, the status of the “document modified” flag would be saved as soon as the printing process gets triggered and it would be reset to the saved value after printing has finished. Of course the changes mentioned above would still be made, it would be just the status of the document that's “locked” against changes. If the document has been modified before it was printed, the status after printing would be “modified”. If it has just been opened with no automatic changes (like triggered by macros or updated links), it would show the status “unmodified” after printing. If the user subsequently changes the document, the status would change accordingly, i.e. Switch to “modified”.

There are some disadvantages to this solution:

I consider these disadvantages to be a moderate price that the user pays for his convenience. And anyway, we would not make this setting the default, so the user himself would be responsible for changing this behavior.

How does the user learn about the new feature?

As described in the background section, we do not want to distinguish between general changes and changes triggered by the printing process. So we can't modify the warning message box that asks the user if his changes should be saved, because we don't know which changes caused this box to appear.

An alternative way to inform the user is to display the Help Agent together with the message box. The Help Agent leads the user to a description of this feature in our help system.

Further specification details

Action Items

Propose specification

Lutz Höger

Describe the feature and maybe the technical background

Frank Peters

Optionally save and restore the document status when printing

Mathias Bauer

Implement Tools – Options UI

Oliver Specht

Implement trigger for Help Agent

Oliver Specht

Write feature e-mail

Oliver Specht

Translate UI and documentation

Rafaella Braconi

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