Good old Issue 3959 got some minor activity lately as drhatch had an interesting insight :

I wish to call into question a fundamental assumption that has been made about this effort, the assumption that has held up development for years: that multiple layout capability must exist before outline view can be useful.

This is holding up outline view because multiple layout capability (issue 81480) is a big effort, and it, in turn, requires refactoring of writer’s usage of the drawing layer (issue 100875) and the latter has some significant technical difficulties. It seems unlikely that these issues will be finished soon.

The logic behind this assumption is that switching views will take too long if multiple layouts are not possible and/or most users will need simultaneous viewing for outline view to be useful. I disagree with both these assertions.

1. Simultaneous viewing is not necessary. I have been using Word’s outline view extensively for years without simultaneous viewing. Even though it’s possible with split screens, it takes up screen real estate that I want to use otherwise.

2. It won’t take that long to switch layouts [..]

I, for one, would much rather have an outline view soon, one that takes a couple of seconds to switch, and which is available only as a single view, than wait the extra time it is going to take for the multiple-layout refactoring to be finished. That would be enough for me for a long time.

This is a case of “perfect” being the enemy of “good enough”. Let’s just have “good enough” for a while first.

Is his experience anecdotal, or do people really seldom or never use Microsoft Word’s outline view simultaneously with another view ? Other users have chimed in, but me too contributions will soon be boring… So here is my attempt at helping quantify user expectations : this poll !

Of course, self selection by passionate users and links from OpenOffice forums will certainly bias the sampling beyond any semblance of representativity, but we’ll take that as better than nothing…