Does anyone use the rulers provided by the applications like Word? How would you design the ruler to make it better? I personally don't use them because I think they are useless, maybe it's because I don't understand (how to use) them though.
I think those rulers are a poor UI concept in applications such as word processing. They attempt to emulate the typewriter. Unfortunately a word processor is not a typewriter. IMO a rulers usefulness comes from it's ability to place things precisely and also measure the same object.
On the other hand, the ability to use drag-and-drop to set the various indents, tab stops, and column-widths is a nice feature. Even if you're a style junkie, having the visual/interactive tools can save a lot of time in the early stages of defining styles.
I use rulers in Word all the time to set the margin and tabs. It's very effective.
If you've ever actually used a typewriter, you might find the ruler intuitive.
I really like the rulers in MS Word. As others have stated, setting tabs as well as being able to manage left, right and hanging indents very effectively. It's an example of a real world metaphor that does work (these are, admittedly, few and far between. :-) )
I used to use the Rulers, but now that I've become used to using Styles I'm finding that when I go back to older documents and start to make changes I'm frustrated by them.
I've written rulers for a report editor app, and I did NOT make fields drag with the ruler. It used to annoy me that rulers crystal reports were very hit and miss as to what objects were attached to what ruler (or I ended moving more than I meant to).
>> " It's 15 twips 'cos normal windows video drivers set the screen res to 96dpi so 15 twips is 2 pixels at 100% zoom. (72*20/96)"
I should say about 30 twips for 2 dots on that particular device. A printer normally has much higher resolution thus more dots per inch than a display device.
I think they'd be better if you could customize what values they snap to when you're dragging. Then dragging could be easier because you'd have a potentially bigger target.
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