An American Editor

October 12, 2010

From Sense to Sensibility: Transitioning from Word 2003 to Word 2010

As you are aware from previous articles (see, e.g., Transitioning in a Microsoft World: Toolbar Toggle, Why, Microsoft, Do You Insist On Torturing Me?, and Different Approaches for Different Folks: The Mechanics of Editing), I am trying to transition from Office 2003 (primarily Word and Excel) to Office 2010 for my business. (I am also transitioning from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, which is much easier than than the Office transition :).) I am pleased to announce that the transition is going better than I feared, even though it hasn’t been as problem- and fustration-free as I would have liked. I guess I have been spoiled by past Office transitions that have gone very smoothly.

As previous articles noted, helping me to make the transition was Toolbar Toggle, a very inexpensive add-in for Office/Word 2007 and 2010 that allowed me to continue to use Office 2003-style menus in Office 2010. But also helping were Microsoft articles created to help smooth the transition.

Three important links to Microsoft help make the transition from Office/Word 2003, which is menu driven, to Office/Word 2010, which is ribbon driven are these:

I stumbled upon the Learn Where document and from it found the other sources. As a menu-centric person, these have become invaluable. (For those of you using or transitioning to Office 2007 rather than Office 2010, see Guides to the Ribbon: Use Office 2003 Menus to Learn the Office 2007 User Interface.)

The combined help of Toolbar Toggle and the Microsoft documents has made my transition much smoother and easier, to the point that I am now using Office 2010 without Toolbar Toggle, and am doing so without angst. Yet, I have discovered some other anomalies that frustrate me with Office 2010, primarily Word 2010, which is my workhorse program.

My goal is to automate as much of the editorial process as I can. It makes no sense, for example, to have to replace about with approximately or which with that by selecting the word to be replaced and typing the replacement each time. Yet, I cannot do a Find & Replace because F&R is dumb and will either require me to evaluate each instance and manually choose replace or it will willy-nilly make all replacements, whether appropriate or not. Consequently, I prefer the Toggle macro in EditTools (see The 3 Stages of Copyediting: II — The Copyediting Stage), which allows me to have my cursor in the word and press a single key to make the change as I encounter the problem during the editing process.

Along these lines, I also use a supplementary macro program called MacroExpress (I use the Pro version). This lets me easily combine various independent keyboard commands into a single macro to accomplish certain tasks. For example, when I reach a figure callout in the main body of a chapter, I want to go to the figure legend to edit it and make sure it exists (you’d be surprised at how many figure callouts I come across that do not have corresponding figure legends). So my process is to insert a bookmark where I am in the text and then go to where the bookmark for the figure legends is located. I do this (and the reverse of adding a new figure legend bookmark in the next figure legend and returning to where I was in the main text) using a MacroExpress macro, which requires a single keypress to run, that runs a series of keyboard key commands in Word to accomplish these tasks. Worked simply and easily in Word 2003; failed to work in Word 2010.

The failure of this simple macro in Word 2010 led me to yet another discovery and source of frustration in Word 2010: Contrary to Microsoft’s assertions and my expectations, many of the keyboard commands of Word 2003 do not work in Word 2010 — they simply do not exist in Word 2010. In Word 2003 Alt+k brought up the Bookmark dialog; in Word 2010, the Bookmark dialog doesn’t have a keyboard key command and it doesn’t seem like I can assign one to it either.

Yet there is a workaround. By assigning the Bookmark dialog to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), it suddenly does have a keyboard command. But here is the gotcha!: The QAT items are assigned numbers for use with the Alt key (you find them by pressing and releasing the Alt key to display the letters and numbers assigned to the particular ribbon entries). In my case the Bookmark dialog is assigned the number 9 because it is the ninth item, counting from left to right, on my QAT. So Alt+9 will raise the Bookmark dialog. However, should I rearrange my QAT and shift the Bookmark dialog to position 6, the key combination will change to Alt+6. Gotcha! If I want to use the key combination as part of a MacroExpress macro, I can’t move the Bookmark dialog’s position on the QAT without modifying all of the MacroExpress macros that use it. Of course, there are other ways to solve the problem, including writing a VBA macro that calls the dialog box and simply assigning that macro to a keyboard key combination, which is something I will probably do, but what about all of the users who are unable to write VBA macros? The users who at best can record a keystroke macro?

As if that were not enough, in Word 2003, when the Bookmark dialog was open, I could type a bookmark name and press Alt+a to add it to the document or Alt+g to go to it if it already existed. In Word 2010, that doesn’t work and there is nothing to indicate what will work. Ultimately, I discovered via trial and error that in Word 2010 you need to press Alt+Shift+a (or g) to accomplish the same task.

Office 2010 has other “peculiarities,”  not least of which is “Compatibility Mode” and its constantly telling me when I want to save a document that the document has track changes and comments in it. Although I already own a couple of books on Word 2010, it is clear that I need to find yet another one — one that is more complete in explaining all of the changes instituted. The problem, I fear, is that the explanations I seek may appear in books on Word 2007 rather than 2010 because authors view 2010 as an upgrade to 2007 rather than as an upgrade to 2003.

I’m finding that overall the upgrade from 2003 to 2010 is worthwhile. I found that using Toolbar Toggle in the first weeks of my transition allowed me to acclimate to 2010 yet get work accomplished while doing so. Now it is time to walk without holding a hand for support.

One final note: It is being reported that Office 2011 for the Mac will give users the option of using a menu-driven system and deleting/suppressing the ribbons completely or of using the ribbon system. If true, which we should know for certain in a few weeks as Office 2011 is due for release this month, why didn’t Microsoft give the vast majority of its market — the PC side of the equation — the same option? Or will this be the excuse for Office 2012 for Windows? Stay tuned for further updates and speculation.


August 11, 2010

Why, Microsoft, Do You Insist On Torturing Me?

I admit that as between a Microsoft world and an Apple world, I’m in the Microsoft camp. I prefer to have my computers custom built with the best components I can buy, rather than being told I need to settle for what someone else has decided is good enough. It’s also a reason why I go to a local shop to have my computers built rather than buy from a mass merchandiser like Best Buy, Dell, or HP.

Occasionally, over the many years I have been using computers, Microsoft has come up with a winner or two. (Can we forget Windows 98/Me?) For me two winners of “recent” vintage were Windows XP (especially with Service Pack 3) and Word/Office 2003. XP worked and worked and worked, essentially without a problem. Similarly, Word/Office 2003 kept on chugging, letting me get my work done efficiently, and all consumer versions, including the Student Edition, included Outlook.

But the Microsoft world moves on and this past weekend, while I was away for 4 days, I had my local computer shop upgrade my system from XP to Windows 7. Subsequently, I added Word/Office 2010 to my system.

Clearly the best way to move from XP to Win7 is with a completely fresh install, which is what I did with one of the computers being upgraded. But I couldn’t do that on my workhorse computer. I am too busy and it would take too much time to install and recustomize all of the programs I rely on to get my work done. So I opted for a temporary solution. I had all the hard drives on my workhorse converted to removable drives. I actually did this for a couple of reasons. One is related to the Win7 upgrade but the second is related to securing my hard drives when I travel. With removable hard drives, I can simply remove them and store them in a bank safe deposit box or have a neighbor take care of them for me while I travel. I do have several backup plans in operation, including Carbonite (which has saved me several times over the past couple of years), but this is just another bit of insurance.

The second reason I converted to removable hard drives for Win7 is that as a temporary fix I did the operating system upgrade path (Win XP > Vista > Win7); everything works just fine. But at the same time, I bought another hard drive for a fresh install of Win7. With this removable fresh install drive, as I have time, I can plug it into my computer, bootup, and install and recustomize my work programs; no need to take a couple of days and just get upgrading but no billable work done. After I am done setting up the fresh install drive, I can just swap drives effortlessly. (One note: Going the upgrade path meant I had to go for 32-bit Win7; but on the fresh install drive, I can go for 64-bit Win7.)

As far as Win7 goes, the upgrade was easy. It took my local computer shop a few hours to do the upgrade route on my workhorse and a few more hours to resetup my computer in my office, and almost no time at all to do the fresh install on our other computers plus a few hours to reset them up in our offices. While I’m at the “Finding Your Niche/Expanding Your Horizons” conference (which was discussed in A Gathering of Freelance Editorial Professionals), my local shop will create the fresh install drive for me and install many of the programs I need for work; unfortunately, they need my computer to create the drive or it would be done by now.

In contrast to my Win7 experience (and after a week of using Win7, I can say it is an excellent OS), is my Word/Office 2010 experience. One was a breeze, the other torture. 

As an editor I rely on Microsoft Word. It’s not because I love Word, but because my clients demand it. It brings a certain amount of standardization to manuscript processing and allows more forward-thinking clients to design templates for editors (and authors) to use. Also, Word comes with a fairly robust macro programming language, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), which lets me, as well as clients, create efficiency enhancements. EditTools, discussed in The 3 Stages of Copyediting: II — The Copyediting Stage, is a good example of what can be done with VBA to make editing more efficient. I have invested lots of time, effort, and money into creating macros to better the editing process and into customizing Word to make it work most effectively for the job of editing. Word 2003 works beautifully for me in this regard.

Then came Word 2007 and Microsoft’s changes to how Word works. It was like going from Shangri-la to a Tim Burton nightmare. I tried it and it was so bad I passed on it. What took seconds in Word 2003 took minutes in Word 2007. Customizing the ribbons in 2007 was not easily done. I had to buy a book that discussed nothing else but how to reprogram the ribbons. After seeing how difficult customization was and how much more time it was taking to work in Word 2007, I junked the program (and fervently prayed that Microsoft would do the same!).

But I began noticing an increase in the number of manuscripts I was receiving that had been created in Word 2007. The temporary solution was Microsoft’s free converter, but it wasn’t a great or complete solution. So I waited for Word 2010 because Microsoft said the ribbon would be customizable. It is, but so what — it still isn’t easy to use if you have any long-term experience with Word.

Remember WordPerfect and WordStar? The transition from either program to Word was a cakewalk compared to the transition from Word 2003 to Word 2010. It is bad enough that Microsoft has decided it knows better how I should use Word than I do, but it also changed how macros are accessed and how they need to be written. So now I have hundreds of macros that need to be rewritten, I have ribbons with useless commands on them, and I have ribbons that can’t be removed and replaced with something more logical. Why, Microsoft, do you insist on torturing me? You could have made it a seamless transition. You could have given me the option to retain the Word 2003 setup. At minimum, you could have retained the VBA basics so that macros don’t need to be rewritten. Hours of work await me.

What Microsoft has done, besides making my life significantly harder, is typical of big business thinking: paternalism at its worst. Word 2010 is probably a truly wonderful program for the person new to Word or to the person who does simple things with a word processor — or, as seems to be true for many authors, the person who likes to play with formatting every line and character. But for the advanced user and for the user who has invested time and money into customizing Word to make it functional for his or her business, it is a nightmare, perhaps even a catastrophe in the making, at least until sufficient time has passed using it to make peace with the new paradigm and to get necessary macros rewritten. I suspect that 6 years from now, when Word 2016 is released and I need to upgrade again, I’ll be writing the same complaint yet again.

Microsoft truly knows how to make friends of its customers!

(Addendum: As I am discovering, there are signifcant changes in Win7 from WinXP, including where things are located and terminology. Consequently, I decided to buy a third-party manual. For Win7, I bought Windows 7: The Missing Manual [ISBN 978-1-596-80639-2] by David Pogue, the New York Times tech columnist. I spent several hours at my local B&N comparing Win7 books and decided that this was the best of the lot; plus it is an O’Reilly book, which usually means good quality.

Similarly, I decided that if I am going to make the transition from Word 2003 to Word 2010, I better get some help. So I also spent time with Word 2010 books and settled on these two: Microsoft Office Word 2010 QuickSteps [ISBN 978-0-07-163487-8] by Marty Matthews and Microsoft Word 2010 on Demand [ISBN 978-0-7897-4281-0] by Steve Johnson. The book I want but haven’t yet found is one that provides comprehensive coverage of Word 2010 macro writing.)

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