Math/Formula visual editing

Peter Gervai grinapo+lodev at
Sun Dec 6 19:56:40 UTC 2020

Hello Devs!

I write this email instead of opening a bugzilla enhancement issue
mainly because I am not even sure anyone intends to work on
Math/Formula and I do not want to annoy anyone with new unsolvable
bugs staying there forever.

I try to phrase it as short as I can, I can expand on request. I can
offer to create a more detailed specification, if there's a point
doing so.

I was looking around formula input tools, from LyX through various
tools to LO Math (or Formula, it is sometimes referenced either this
or that). Basically what's usable was LyX, but it's clunky and hard to
use for non-technical people and LO, which is rather easy to use. (And
you can edit TeX source, but that's absolutely not user friendly.)
None of them was really _good_or _simple_. I'm here to help LO
Formula/Math to be the best.

My trigger was a math notebook service; you can
follow me faster if you go and check it out, it's free to some
extents. Anyway, the main thing is that it is:
- a WYSIWYG editor, so you edit the formula visually, and
- provides VERY fast input, and rather easy to use.

The main reason for the speed is its universal hotkey (backslash)
which pops up a selection box anywhere.
The box is immediately in search mode, so, for example, to start a
fraction requires three keys: \ f ENTER. The box contains multiple
search terms for objects: some unique (to make it searchable, like
"left(") and others logical (the one you would look for if you don't
remember the name, like "(").
The box is also clickable, or cursor selectable.
The search list is context sensitive, so usually what you need at a
specific place can be reached by fewer characters. The search list
order is also frequency based so often used functions tend to get on
The searching box also offers categories (similar to Formula menus)
which can be used to find an unknown object. This way it has a super
fast way for the experienced, a pretty fast way for the rookies and
clickable categories for the absolute newbies.

Main points:
- If you get some experience (an hour seems to be enough) you do not
need to touch the mouse,
- if you get some experience (and remember the names of yor operators
and symbols) typing is _very_ efficient, usually require *ten times
less* keystrokes than typing Formula source,
- visual input generates the source, and not vice versa, which is way
more Average Joe User friendly.

Some people using Formula prefer to write the source, but it's okay:
if you edit the visual part the source gets updated - if you edit the
source the visual part gets updated (as it does now).

I can help in writing a more detailed spec. I cannot help in coding,
or organise coders. If there is nobody interested I would not waste
time to detail it, but if anyone feels like caring, ping me please, if
you believe I can help.
Or if you would rather see this in bugzilla... I can out it there.

Any feedback welcome.

Peter 'grin' Gervai

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