27 October 2005

My On Going Quest To Get OOo To Have A "Hide Blank Lines" Option

After almost two years of pestering and begging some wonderful person has now fix Issue 36696 that gives the (MS Word '97) option to hide blank lines when printing labels (or a letter with the wizard one would assume). Instead of being over joyed I find myself incredibly sad as with the new release of OpenOffice.org 2 they've actually broken the hidden paragraph feature :-( Here's a break down of Issue 56195

Imagine you have a data source that looks like this:
Address1 Address2 Address3
text text text
text null text
text text text

Create a document that looks like this:
"Record One..."
Address1
[hiddenparagraph] Address2 "Print me only for record one and three"
Address3
[next record]

Copy and paste the above, delete the final "Next Record" and change the "One" to a "Two". You are now ready to print a form letter (File > Print > Yes), only ask for records one and two to be printed.

The printed file will look like this:
Example One (incorrect)

This output is incorrect. Address2 has been hidden for record one even though it is not empty. What has happened is the hidden paragraph test for record two's Address2 has been done (which results in a true, hide paragraph as R2A2 is empty) and that test result is applied to all the hidden paragraphs for Address2s on the page :-(

You can see by turning "show hidden paragraphs" on (under the View menu) that record one's Address2 field is correctly being filled, it's just the hidden paragraph function next to it that is mis-firing:
Example One with Show Hidden Paragraphs On

To double check this just change the names Record One and Record Two to Two and Three respectively and do the print for only records two and three. This time record three's Address Two (the second one on the page) is not empty so the line is not hidden. Record two's Address2 is not hidden either, even though it is empty:
Example Two (incorrect again)

This bug basically makes hidden paragraphs useless for labels (which is probably the most common time to use hidden paragraphs) and any other multiple records to a page. Let's hope some one can fix it for 2.0.1 (although it is not targeted for it yet and nobody seems to be seeing the severity of this issue).