The fork of OpenOffice called LibreOffice is going to have its first official release soon. This version is primarily a code cleanup, and so it will not be much different to OpenOffice 3.3, which is also about to be released soon. For the subsequent release of LibrOffice, however, there are proposals starting to emerge which are quite interesting. Tech Drive-in reports on a mock-up of a proposed overhaul of the LibreOffice UI.
LibreOffice proposed UI Mock-ups
2011-01-21 3:08 amFlatland_Spider
MS explored having an addin which searched the features of Office to make transitioning to ribbon easier. It’s actually really nice not having to go into help and search when you just want to know if a feature exists.
The LibreOffice/OOo probably should have a similar feature.
2011-01-21 7:04 amNeolander
The problem is, search rarely works well when used this way (looking for concepts you don’t know whether they have been integrated in the office suite or not). Microsoft have thought this would work when looking for an interface suitable for Windows Vista/7’s control panel, but the thing is you often have to try several synonym keyword combinations before finding what you’re looking for.
Search is good when you look for something you already know of, not for discovering features, or looking for features for which the name might have changed compared with what you were used to.
And I’m not sure OO’s feature set is so large that you would go much faster by using a search bar instead of just using menus.
I can understand use of search in help systems, but not this way.
Here is another ui mockup that that I like quite a bit. Its a bit more minimal and clean which fits my word processing needs fairly well. I can see how power users would love a sidebar, its lets you put a ton of buttons up without cramping your virtual space.
Maybe they will find a way to combine the best aspects of both.
2011-01-20 10:02 pmNeolander
Indeed, that’s quite interesting too… I can see benefits and drawbacks to each approach.
The second mockup feels a lot less messy while still providing most frequently-used functionality from the toolbars.
On the other hand, from my personal experience of Firefox 4, the kind of nonstandard two-pane menus it uses feels quite hard to use at first, and takes a while to get used to, so “immediate” accessibility would decrease, making OO more of a tool for experimented people than it currently is.
Currently, it’s (much) easier to teach how to use OO to someone fairly new to word processing than Office 2007, due to it mostly using standard controls, in stark contrast with Office’s strange “Ribbon” UI choices. I’m ready to believe that Office 2007’s UI is more powerful once you got used to it, but it’s certainly much harder to learn.
Edited 2011-01-20 22:04 UTC
2011-01-20 11:28 pmPraxis
I’ve always found the ribbon fairly easy to learn if you don’t have much previous experience. Switching to ribbon after you’ve used the old style for your entire is quite the bitch. This was from experiences in giving tech support to my younger sister and my father, so its just anecdotal. Either of the mockups posted shouldn’t have a worse curve than ribbon and maybe even better. At least from what I see at this point.
The sidebar approach is the more standard and you pointed out in use in some already existing suites. For some reason I think the sidebar on the right feels more natural than on the left, seems there has been a lot of tendency in linux design to jam everything as far left as possible these days or maybe thats just ubuntu. I still prefer the citrus concept a tad more, or at least want to be able to play with it someday. I’ve played with Koffice before. It was very usable.
I will say that both of these are better than the proposed ribbon I saw floating around a while back http://lifehacker.com/5331438/openofficeorg-screenshots-preview-a-r…
whether you like the ribbon as an interface concept or not, I think we can agree that office at least executes it well. Imitators have not faired as well.
Edited 2011-01-20 23:30 UTC
2011-01-20 10:18 pmlemur2
Here is another ui mockup that that I like quite a bit. Its a bit more minimal and clean which fits my word processing needs fairly well. I can see how power users would love a sidebar, its lets you put a ton of buttons up without cramping your virtual space. Maybe they will find a way to combine the best aspects of both.
I found that site only later, after I submitted the original link.
It seems to me that this designed-for-widescreen sidebar layout is beginning to merge with the UI approach adopted by Calligra Office:
The main difference seems to be that the Calligra suite has the tools on the right, not the left.
Edited 2011-01-20 22:21 UTC
2011-01-21 10:16 amvodoomoth
I do like the idea of a sidebar, as it looks in this era of widescreens better thought than the old horizontal toolbars stacked one on top of the others. It would be even better if the user was given the possibility to override automatic insertion of icons by saying “lock this one in place” or “never add this one to the bar”.
At first look I thought it was QT
Don’t get your hopes up just yet. These are all completely non-official. Says so right in the article, and on the artist’s DeviantArt page:
“Please read: It’s just a unofficial mock-up. I’m not part of LibreOffice development team.”
It appears they’ve taken some ideas from Symphony and tweaked them around a bit – it will be interesting to see how it will perform on Windows and whether the eye candy aspect will bring people over as much as the features itself.
Sidebar reminds a bit NeXT/OSX style inspectors. If the feel is on par with the looks then this could be it. I mean, open product to look and feel modern and user-friendly.
(Disclaimer: strictly IMHO)
Nice UI cleanup. Not sure about how I feel about this now (the sidebar looks as messy as Office for Mac at first look, and I question the usefulness of a search box in a word processor), but it’s sure a much more efficient way of using widescreens than stacking multiple horizontal toolbars.
Edited 2011-01-20 20:56 UTC