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Re: [tdf-discuss] LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented


Quoting T. J. Brumfield:

One of the advantages of LibreOffice/OOo over MS Office is that the
interface is familiar and easy to grasp. And while the Ribbon interface has
improved from 2007 to 2010, it is still unpopular for a reason. The core
ideal of a dynamic interface that shows the most common features sounds good
on paper, but occassionally you need the lesser used features and you can't
find them. Menus still provide a familiar and easy to use method of
organizing a large number of features.

Very true. I changed from Office 2003 straight to 2010 and I sometimes
find myself on the verge of violence when looking for some features, even
fairly common ones (at least common in my work).

Given the large number of features and complexity of office suites, one
needs to consider both use cases. Most of the time we only need a small
number of features and we want these conveniently located. Thankfully Lo/OOo
handles this nicely today with keyboard shortcuts and toolbar icons. And the
laundry list of other features can be found in the drop-down menus.

It's said that most users of complex software use only 20% of its features.
Unfortunately, not everybody uses the *same* 20%. (This is one reason why
"light" versions usually fail.)

One of my clients has over 10,000 PCs, almost all of which have MS Office installed.
They had major problems with people adapting to Office 2007 from 2003.

The Office 2007/2010 interface looks nice largely due to nice use of color,
gradients, etc. The Lo/OOo interface looks antiquated largedly due to a flat
pallete. But the "ribbon" itself is an odd mish-mash of different sized
icons that look like they were assembled at random.

Personally I'm not interested in eye candy and in fact I've turned off
the Aero stuff on my Win 7 boxes to make them look like XP (and I did
the same with my Linux systems -- the ultimate heresy!).

Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
wouldn't most of our users be happy?

[snip]

> Since we know
most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
do our best to ease that transition?

On the other hand, more and more users are moving to 2007/2010 and
are getting used to it. People are expecting more eye candy and the
"old fashioned" interface could well put them off, now that they've
seen what wonders have come out of Redmond. [/sarcasm]

I've had similar arguments with Linux fans who argue for a return
to a command line on the grounds that it's easier and quicker.
Well, no it isn't. Put one in front of the average office worker
(to whom a computer is nothing but a tool for getting work done)
and watch him/her freeze in horror. It was bad enough back in the DOS
days...

It would also be considerably less work than completely redesigning the UI
from scratch. That is more time that could be dedicated to improving the
project in other ways.

If by "improving the project" you mean bug fixing, then of course. If you mean
adding yet more features, well, just how good does a word processor or
spreadsheet have to be? Is there a limit to the number of new features that
can be added without causing feature overload? In 30+ years in the computer business
I've seen any number of cases where something has been done purely because it
can be done, regardless of whether it's of any use to anyone. Just a thought.

P.



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