Bear with me while I shift gears now, and talk about another issue that the MacBU has heard a lot about: Office 2008 and the OS X feature called Spaces. If you read through the links in that previous sentence, a couple of themes pop up:
1. Mac Office 2008 doesn’t work properly with Spaces
2. It happens most often in Word or when the Formatting Palette is open
3. People rarely see the bug in non-Microsoft applications
4. People assume the Mac Office 2008 code base is the cause of the problem
Let me give you some of the background of the Formatting Palette, to help explain why the problem shows up so much more readily in Office 2008 than in Office 2004 or in other applications.
When people talk about the “Formatting Palette” in Office 2008, they usually mean the Toolbox window. The Toolbox is actually two separate windows, bound together by Carbon Window Groups. The first window has the title bar and the row of buttons across the top (the buttons that toggle between the Formatting Palette, the Scrapbook, the Reference Tools, the Object Palette, and whatever else is there that I can’t remember off the top of my head.) That first window is a true floating window created by OS APIs. The second window is everything below that row of buttons, and is the instantiation of one of those toolbox items. These windows are slightly customized, in that we tell the OS to create them with no border or shadow, again through OS APIs. When the Formatting Palette is showing, you’ve actually got the root toolbox window showing first and then the FP window bound tightly to it, on top in the z-order. If you click on the Scrapbook button, the FP window is destroyed and a new window is created to hold the scrapbook, and that new window is bound against the root window. I think that Spaces and Exposé don’t take the window bindings into account (my understanding is that they manipulate windows at the Core Graphics level, which is a lower-level private system interface upon which both Cocoa and Carbon windows sit), and that is why Spaces and Exposé seem to get confused by the root floating window and the upper child window.
The reason MacBU uses this window separation is that most of these child windows are hosted in different modules of code, most of which have their origins in different architectures. The Carbon Window Group APIs allow for very rich and precise control over how windows are presented to the user, and gave us the ability to combine UI from a variety of sources in our codebase with minimal rearchitecting of each of the individual components. The Scrapbook window, for example, is a PowerPlant window because it actually lives deep in the Entourage code (due to the fact that Entourage is currently PowerPlant-based, and that was the easiest way to get access to the Entourage database). PowerPlant is very picky about owning its entire window, which is why we use a separate window here — it misbehaves rather badly if you try to put PowerPlant objects in a sub-frame of a window that is not fully under PowerPlant’s own control. The Formatting Palette is actually a special instantiation of the toolbar code, which has its own assumptions about the sort of window it lives in, and the Compatibilty Report is actually an instantiation of what was originally a modeless dialog.
We have long-term plans to overhaul the entire architecture of the Toolbox and all its clients to use Cocoa, but that didn’t happen in 2008. The Cocoa AppKit window APIs do not yet contain functionality that supports the full richness of window management features that the Carbon APIs do. The Toolbox and its use of Carbon Window Groups were introduced in Office 2004 and predate both Spaces and Exposé. The Office 2004 Toolbox has the same issues with Spaces and Exposé, but you only notice it if you show the Toolbox. In Office 2004, the Formatting Palette was separate from the Toolbox, so the Toolbox was not shown by default. In order to reduce the amount of screen space the Toolbox and Formatting Palette obscured at the same time, we merged the two together early in the 2008 cycle, long before Leopard and Spaces were demoed or available for us to test with in beta.
After we received a beta of Leopard with Spaces, we tested our apps and identified a number of issues that our apps have with the feature. We had an engineer spend several days digging into these issues. He did some serious spelunking into our windowing code and determined that we were not moving the windows incorrectly in our code so we reported them to Apple to investigate. Apple has fixed a number of problems with Spaces in OS X 10.5.3, but some still remain.
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