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  • Coping with a dangerous UI for document compare

    Home Forums AskWoody support Microsoft Office by version Questions: Microsoft Office Coping with a dangerous UI for document compare

    This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by

     Lugh 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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    • #346541 Reply

      jsachs
      AskWoody Lounger

      I frequently compare two versions of a Word document, then step through the document examining each difference by clicking Next… Next… Next.

      Some time in the past few months, the navigation controls began skittering back and forth, depending on what sort of difference Next lands on. If I click Next and then don’t move the mouse, the controls may skitter to the left, leaving the mouse over no control at all. Another time the controls may skitter to the right, leaving the mouse over the Reject button.

      This makes the review process much more difficult. Instead of just clicking the mouse and watching the document, I must look up at the controls and back, every time I click.

      Worse, if I forget once, I’m liable to click Reject without meaning to, and I may not notice that I did it.

      Is there a fix or a workaround for this

    • #346547 Trash | Reply

      PKCano
      Da Boss

      It would help to know which version of Word you are working with.
      Also, what are the latest updates you’ve done for Word/Office?

    • #346612 Trash | Reply

      Lugh
      AskWoody_MVP

      the navigation controls began skittering back and forth, depending on what sort of difference Next lands on. If I click Next and then don’t move the mouse, the controls may skitter to the left, leaving the mouse over no control at all. Another time the controls may skitter to the right, leaving the mouse over the Reject button.

      “navigation controls began skittering”
      Do you mean the location of the controls [Next, Accept etc] changed on the ribbon?

      Does this happen in any other app? Could be dirt in your mouse—what kind of mouse?

      Do the shortcut keys ‘c’ and ‘m’ work for Accept & Reject?

      You could always try an Office Repair.

      Lugh.
      ~
      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 2 x 256G SSD, 4TB HD

    • #346637 Trash | Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      It’s probably the search window jumping out of the way of the found text.

      cheers, Paul

    • #346673 Trash | Reply

      jsachs
      AskWoody Lounger

      Responses to the comments so far:

      PKCano, “What version of Word?” Sorry I didn’t mention that. It’s Office 365 Pro.

      “Do you mean the location of the controls [Next, Accept etc] changed on the ribbon?”

      Yes.

      Lugh, “Does this happen in any other app?”

      To my knowledge, no other applications have this feature. Excel has a Review ribbon, but nothing like a Compare button. PowerPoint has a Review ribbon with a Compare button, but it actually only seems to do a merge.

      “Could be dirt in your mouse—what kind of mouse?”

      The mouse I normally use on this machine is an Amazon Basics optical mouse. It shows no signs of misbehavior. I can’t imagine how it could cause this problem.

      “Do the shortcut keys ‘c’ and ‘m’ work for Accept & Reject?”

      I don’t understand the question. ‘c’ and ‘m’ are just character keys; ‘c’ replaces the selection with a letter c, and ‘m’ replaces it with a letter m, just as any other typed input would.

      Ctrl+C copies the selection, as usual. Ctrl+M indents the paragraph containing the selection, as usual. Windows+C does nothing evident. Windows+M closes all windows on the Desktop. I can try other combinations of ‘c’ and ‘m’ with alter keys if you tell me which one(s) you have in mind.

      “You could always try an Office Repair.”

      That sounds like a reasonable thing to try, but it’s one I’d have to approach it with extreme caution.

      One of my job’s basic tools is a publishing application called ePublisher, which has a rather delicate interface with Word. When I do anything that affects Office (e.g., upgrading it) the interface breaks, and getting it to work again requires a great deal of effort, usually with ePublisher support personnel getting involved. Thus running Office Repair is not something I can try “just to see if it helps”!

      Paul T, “It’s probably the search window jumping out of the way of the found text.”

      I don’t understand your suggestion. What search window do you mean? Nothing like a window is moving in this situation, so my description of the problem may have been unclear.

      • #347433 Trash | Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        To my knowledge, no other applications have this feature. Excel has a Review ribbon, but nothing like a Compare button. 

        Well yeah, that’s packaged as a separate application.

        https://support.office.com/en-us/article/overview-of-spreadsheet-compare-13fafa61-62aa-451b-8674-242ce5f2c986 :

        Important: Spreadsheet Compare is only available with Office Professional Plus 2013, Office Professional 2016, or Office 365 ProPlus.

        Of course then there are a whole bunch of non-Microsoft tools for that too, all named about the same…

        As for the original problem – just to be sure, is this the old “mouse snap to” thing again? As I recall that’s been a long-standing issue with MS Office…

        Another thing though, every time I’ve tested Word’s document version compare, it’s failed to show some kinds of differences in formatting. Things like image positioning and…

        Something is making one or more buttons appear and disappear as the compare operation moves from difference to difference, causing other buttons to shift to the right and the left. How can I make that stop happening?

        … so not the mouse snap to, but context-based changes in the UI. Well, that’ll be a bother to fix properly.

        What you should be able to do as a workaround though, is to copy the control to the quick access toolbar, and use from there. Right-click on the “review” pane background in the ribbon, select “Add Group to Quick Access Toolbar”, and then you can collapse the ribbon and mouse over to the quick toolbar’s review icon. That normally shouldn’t get context-dependent changes, so…

    • #347215 Trash | Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      What search window do you mean? Nothing like a window is moving in this situation, so my description of the problem may have been unclear.

      The “Next” button is effectively part of a search window/pane. As you move to the next difference that pane may shuffle out of the way so you can read the difference.

      cheers, Paul

    • #347273 Trash | Reply

      jsachs
      AskWoody Lounger

      Paul, you said “It’s probably the search window jumping out of the way of the found text.” I’m sorry; this still doesn’t make any sense. The buttons are in the ribbon. The text is in the document pane. The text doesn’t compete with the buttons for space; unless it escaped from the document pane and invaded the ribbon, I don’t see how it could.

      I’m not sure that pursuing this line of inquiry is productive. I’ll restate my question. Something is making one or more buttons appear and disappear as the compare operation moves from difference to difference, causing other buttons to shift to the right and the left. How can I make that stop happening?

    • #347371 Trash | Reply

      Lugh
      AskWoody_MVP

      Something is making one or more buttons appear and disappear as the compare operation moves from difference to difference, causing other buttons to shift to the right and the left.

      That’s new behavior to me. I only inquired about it to eliminate it as a possible interpretation 🙂

      Shortcut keys ‘c’ and ‘m’ are examples of the usual keyboard shortcuts scattered across almost all software menus and ribbons—typically identified by an underline under the shortcut letter in the menu or button text.

      Compare Shortcut keys

      In above pic, note the underlined letters in the Accept drop-down menu choices:
      M for first;
      c for second;
      l for fourth;
      S for fifth.
      In this case—selecting within an open menu—you simply type the shortcut letter.
      With no menu open, you typically start with the Alt key—but it depends on the software. Eg the sequence…
      Alt F O
      …will activate the File-Open dialog in most software.

      Wiki extract:
      “Microsoft differentiates keyboard shortcuts from hotkeys (“mnemonics” on Windows) whereby the former consists of a specific key combination used to trigger an action, and the latter represents a designated letter in a menu command or toolbar button that when pressed together with the Alt key, activates such command—whereas a “hotkey” on Windows is a system wide shortcut that is always available in all contexts as long as the program responsible for it is running”

      running Office Repair is not something I can try “just to see if it helps”!

      Make a disk image of your system and program disk(s) before you try the repair. Then you’re only 30-60 minutes from recovering the status quo if the repair messes you up. The only place I’ve seen your kind of behavior is in custom ribbons with dynamic elements—so unless someone’s customized your ribbon, all I can suggest is a repair.

      Lugh.
      ~
      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 2 x 256G SSD, 4TB HD

      Attachments:
    • #347374 Trash | Reply

      Lugh
      AskWoody_MVP

      If you want to try alternative comparison software, two I can recommend from usage years ago are:
      Beyond Compare
      and
      P4Merge

      Lugh.
      ~
      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 2 x 256G SSD, 4TB HD

    • #347426 Trash | Reply

      jsachs
      AskWoody Lounger

      Shortcut keys ‘c’ and ‘m’ are examples of the usual keyboard shortcuts… typically identified by an underline under the shortcut letter…

      That’s interesting. I’ve been using Word compare for years, and I never noticed the shortcuts for Accept and Reject. In my defense, I had no reason to notice them because I have no use for them. Shortcuts for Next and (far less important) Previous would be a pretty good solution to my problem, but the interface does not reveal any.

      (This is not relevant to my problem, but I noticed that ‘m’ is a shortcut for both “Accept and move to next” and “Reject and move to next,” which implies that one must click the down-arrow below the button, then press the key, which makes the operations more inconvenient than using the mouse or the keyboard alone… so it’s really questionable whether this shortcut is useful to anyone. Perhaps someone with a problem different from mine, but equally esoteric.)

      Make a disk image of your system and program disk(s) before you try the repair…

      This is the sort of operation that’s simple in theory, but utterly disastrous if it doesn’t work as it should. I have been in the position of trying something similar and having it not work as it should… I hope you’ll understand my extreme caution about it.

      I’ll contact WebWorks and ask whether repairing Office is liable to cause the kind of problems I’ve had in the past. If they assure me it’s not, I’ll feel a lot better about trying the repair experiment.

      Frankly, I don’t think it’s likely to help. I suspect the behavior Word is exhibiting is considered normal, and repair won’t affect it at all. I should be looking for some sort of configuration thing that will change it.

      If you want to try alternative comparison software, two I can recommend from usage years ago are… Beyond Compare and P4Merge.

      Are you sure they support Word docs? I searched the web for information about Beyond Compare and searched the user documentation for P4Merge, and I didn’t find anything like that. (As of 2017 Beyond Compare claimed to compare Word docs, but what it meant was that it could convert two Word docs to plain text and compare those. I can see that that would be fine in some applications, but for me its usefulness would be very limited.)

    • #347439 Trash | Reply

      Lugh
      AskWoody_MVP

      Shortcuts for Next and (far less important) Previous would be a pretty good solution to my problem, but the interface does not reveal any.

      Word 365 Keyboard Shortcut Customization

      In above image, see if NextChangeOrComment will do the job. FIle > Options…
      If not, record a quick macro and give it a keyboard shortcut.

      implies that one must click the down-arrow below the button, then press the key

      Yes that’s right, I couldn’t think of a clearer way to put it than ‘selecting within an open menu’—this stuff can be difficult to describe in text only.

      I suspect the behavior Word is exhibiting is considered normal

      I doubt it. As I said, “That’s new behavior to me” in 25 years using Word—altho I guess only the ‘ribbon years’ since Word 2007 are relevant. Still, in the area I work, many people use Track Changes frequently, so I’d expect to hear of it if it was at all common behavior.

      Beyond Compare … compare Word docs, but what it meant was that it could convert two Word docs to plain text and compare those

      I just installed BC to test, you are right. It would be useful if most of your changes are typically either mostly Accept or mostly Reject—you could cycle thru the comparison quickly in BC and Accept or Reject only the few exceptions individually. When done, Accept All or Reject All.

      If however your changes are a mix of Accept & Reject, then BC probably won’t speed your work.

      Lugh.
      ~
      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 2 x 256G SSD, 4TB HD

      Attachments:
      • #347458 Trash | Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        As I said, “That’s new behavior to me” in 25 years using Word—altho I guess only the ‘ribbon years’ since Word 2007 are relevant. Still, in the area I work, many people use Track Changes frequently, so I’d expect to hear of it if it was at all common behavior.

        However… the ribbon internals have been rather more variable than that. And can be more so if customized, whether directly or by add-ins.

        Since the description was that the ribbon content changes, thus changing where the review tools are located… is this still the Review tab, or custom added review tools in the Home tab or something else?

        What is the part that changes? Can you use Customize and move the accept/reject etc. controls left from that? Since the ribbon is left-aligned…

        Oh well. Back in the old pre-ribbon days it was possible to anchor controls to the right side of the toolbar…

    • #347813 Trash | Reply

      mledman
      AskWoody Plus

      This link https://word.tips.net/T007787_Locking_the_Position_of_Tools.html is about the office ribbon, last updated in 2016.  Maybe it will offer a clue.

      Mark

    • #348522 Trash | Reply

      Lugh
      AskWoody_MVP

      If you want to try alternative comparison software

      Remembered another one I used last decade:

      ExamDiff

      It says it supports Word via plug-in—I haven’t tested it.

      Lugh.
      ~
      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 2 x 256G SSD, 4TB HD

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