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


Le 2010-11-03 15:55, Johannes Bausch a écrit : [About the interface]
One of the advantages of LibreOffice/OOo over MS Office is that the
interface is familiar and easy to grasp.
I don't get that. It's familiar because its similar to MS Office? But
why is the easiness an advantage over MS Office if it is similar? Then
MS Office is easy, too. ...
Menus still provide a familiar and easy to use method of
organizing a large number of features.
+1, I don't like ribbon interfaces neither, because you don't see your
tools vanish. Greying out things is the better option, as long as they
don't take up much space on screen.

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.
Nobody I know knows any shortcuts besides ctrl+c, ctrl+v. Toolbar
icons are misleading, over the half of which are permanently visible I
couldn't even tell you that I have used them before. Only the tool-tip
provides you with the necessary information.

Not too many people use shortcuts, I know. It always amazes me that very few people use even basic shortcuts such as those above, or Bold, Italics... Still, those who type a lot do use them, and if you give them good pre-programmed shortcuts (and ways to reconfigure them), they will use them.

There are two problems with toolbars, ribbons and sidebars:
- the amount of real estate they take;
- the fact only basic icons can readily be understood; others have to be learned. Back in the days of 800x600 and 1024x768 screens, I had to often swap windows between reference material and the document I am writing. One thing I love of my current 1920x1200 screen is that I can see the new document I write and my reference material at the same time. It is hard to do with Ms Office 2007/2010 ribbon or with a side panel similar to what exists in PowerPoint or Impress. As for icons, basically, the only ones easily understood are those related to bold, italics and the like.
We're asking users to relearn a familiar
interface, but why?
Because the current one has lots of space for improvement.
I would not be that negative. But I think the challenge is to find a new interface that improves function. The ribbon interface has improved the looks and maybe the learning curve for new users, but it has not improved function. In many cases, it even degrades function; for instance, when typing, one needs more often to put one's hands away from the keyboard (not good for performance) and because many icons have pre-defined options that are not mine, it means I have to find the "other options" button which is often hidden and/or requires a few extra clicks. If the new user finds the interface relatively easy to learn and the seasoned user finds it efficient and powerful, then we have success on all grounds.


Honestly.
The office suites have looked the same now for over ten years. We're
practically standing still. You cannot tell me that you're completely
satisfied with how it looks at the moment. Very simple tasks get
tedious, because nobody uses things like styles ...
... The problem is that nobody really
groups features: this one belongs to text attributes, here is the
place I look if I want to embed a picture, here (and only here) are
things concerning tables. We absolutely HAVE to make the user use the
stylesheet stuff, and it must be so easy that they start to use it on
one-paged documents.
One of the problems with grouping is that some functions belong in more than one group. For instance, where do you place all options related to the text below a picture: in the Text menu (font, paragraph, alignment...) or in the Image menu ?
As for styles, I use them a lot, but I know I am alone here.


The most essential part at the moment is the interface. Are there any
features missing which should be implemented? I don't know one.
.... And since Writer is the figurehead of the
complete office suite, I think we should start here.
Right and wrong. Writer is likely to be used much more than the other modules. On the other hand, I find Writer relatively easy to approach and the competition also has a good product that is also easy to approach. It would be great if we improved the user interface in such a way that people would use styles and space before paragraphs rather than empty paragraphs, for instance, but overall, it works. Calc also works fairly well for most people.

On the other hand, many people now use PowerPoint (and Impress), and quite frankly, both products need *a lot* of improvements. For instance, with Powerpoint, animations may be defined in the mask, but then they apply to ALL slides, or they have to be painstakingly defined slide by slide, one line at a time... There also are serious problems with the way films and sounds are linked in Powerpoint: they either have to be in the same folder or the link has to be an absolute one. So I think it would be relatively easy to upgrade Impress and make it better and easier to use than Powerpoint, and grab new users via the Impress module.

Regards,
--
Michel Gagnon
Montréal (Québec, Canada) -- http://mgagnon.net

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