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OpenOffice UI Design Proposals Published

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the file-formatting-issues-more-pressing dept.

Software 252

An anonymous reader writes "Various members of the OpenOffice.org community have been submitting their first revisions of proposals to the OpenOffice.org Call for Design Proposals to redesign the user interface of Open Office. As part of Project Renaissance, attention is being drawn to the OpenOffice user interface, and it's 'user-friendliness.' Among the designs, is FLUX UI, which won an award at the Sun Microsystems Community Innovation Awards Program. Anyone can, and is encouraged, to check out the proposals (scroll to bottom of page) and leave your comments so that the designers can improve their designs for the final deadline for proposal submissions to the community."

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252 comments

I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out there" (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909313)

First, do away with the standard File menu bar. Put the most common actions (Create new file, Save file, Print file, etc) in a big button in the corner. Then create a tabbed menu "strip" separated logically by function. Have something like a Format strip and an Insert strip with all the actions you'd expect included there.

As computers become more touch-panel oriented, bigger buttons will be mandatory. The old File Edit Options Help bar is going to be a millstone.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (4, Funny)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909351)

Hey, that's a great idea! But I think we should call the strips "ribbons"...sounds way more sophisticated that way.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909819)

"not invented here" is our motto, so in that sense, I agree. "Ribbon" is a fabulous new way of describing that strip!

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909357)

Maybe, instead of a strip, it could be more like a "string" or a "thread"?

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1, Interesting)

discordant999 (1552319) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909387)

So everyone wants OO to like like MS Office07

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (4, Insightful)

jj00 (599158) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909689)

(grammar corrected)

I wouldn't consider this post Flamebait. The parent pretty much described Office 2007's interface, which everyone was complaining about when it first came out.

On the subject of ribbons and tabs, I would favor the ribbon interface similar to Photoshop. For example, when you choose the cropping tool, there is a ribbon with all the options for cropping. However, I'm not too much of a fan of the Office 2007 interface. I think they did a poor job in the organization of the functions, and didn't even offer an option to switch interfaces.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

danieltdp (1287734) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909997)

First: not everyone, just the guy who posted the message! ;-)

Second: not, he does not. He was just being funny and sarcastic at the same time! At least I got it this way...

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (3, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909391)

Don't forget to make sure it's difficult for the visually impaired to use, and impossible for those relying on screen readers to explore the interface as a sighted person could do! You're 99% of the way there already, I'm sure you can come up with the remaining 1%

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (2, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909779)

Difficult for the Visually impaired? How so?
I actually have an eyesight problem myself, it's nothing MAJOR in the sense that I can't do everyday tasks (I can't, I just can't see clearly very far). I blow up the font a little bit and I'm all right and for me, personally, the ribbon interface that people seem to hate so much is a godsend. I can easily tell what every button does without squinting, but then again, I never feel the need to use an on-screen reader or whatever. However my first inclination is that the ribbon interface isn't at fault for "breaking" them, but rather the on-screen reader programs just haven't been updated to handle the new interface.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909791)

(I can't, I just can't see clearly very far) should have been (I can, I just can't see clearly very far)

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (2, Funny)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910153)

Yeah I guessed so, because, well, I assumed you couldn't proofread your comment very well.

(ouch ouch! karma burns!)

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (0, Offtopic)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910221)

I've got Karma TOO burn!
Plus, I know how slashdot works. Wait for an article to pop up from kdawson, then post "This article is nonsense!" or even "Kdawson sucks!". You'll have plenty of +1 informatives.

Sound like cheating? Not really, usually the article IS nonsense.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (2, Informative)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910135)

You think that's bad? Try using MS Office 2007 on a eee. The bloody ribbon takes up a quarter of the freaking screen!

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (2, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910263)

Try either double-clicking on one of the ribbon tab titles, or right-click on the ribbon and check "Minimize the ribbon" or using the keyboard: <alt>, <menu key>, n

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910481)

Double click the ribbon tab to hide the ribbon. You can then single click a tab to temporarily show it at any time.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910719)

....hide ....the ...ribbon.

(Or...better yet, don't run an Office suite on a PC that doesn't meet the minimum requirements)

*1024x768 or higher resolution monitor.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910267)

Don't forget to make sure it's difficult for the visually impaired to use, and impossible for those relying on screen readers to explore the interface as a sighted person could do! You're 99% of the way there already, I'm sure you can come up with the remaining 1%

Oh, theres a lot more than 1% of the way to go to make a totally useless GUI.

How about using unintelligible icons? That way you can make it impossible to teach anyone how to use it verbally, makes it only possible to describe operations visually. "now right click on the second icon from the left that looks like a squashed centipede, obviously everyone who centers text thinks of squishing a centipede". Bonus points if the icon is could be interpreted obscenely in a Freudian manner or is a swear word in some obscure ideographic script. After all, all of your users are experts at learning ideographic scripts like Egyptian hieroglyphics, so instead of typing "load" or "open" on a command line, make them memorize that a clovis arrowhead means open in this program, but a little star trek shuttle means open in this program.

Then too, make it graphically as utterly modal as possible. Pop up screens that come from pop up screens that come from menu bars on pop up screens. Make it as challenging as memorizing the knot and overlap structure of a bowl of spaghetti. Organize the pop ups and menus solely by programing team or by how the marketing gang declared how the tool would be used. Bonus points if its possible to open multiple different config windows simultanously, but only change things in one window at a time. And try to lock the screen so the user can't look at other windows (like a cheatsheet or notes or whatever) while a config window is open.

Don't ever use threads and don't worry about responsiveness. If clicking on the "wrong" thing appears to lock the machine up for seconds, even minutes, with no way to quickly stop it or go back, thats OK. You know you've succeeded if the user forums describe the best roll back technique as "quit and reload" or "easiest just to reboot and try again". If they complain that is slow, tell them to get a faster PC.

Can't get here from there... Lets say there is 20 step procedure to get from here to there. Make sure that the rollback procedure is a totally and utterly different 40 step procedure. Whatever you do, don't make a global "undo" button that works, or at least works reliably (its OK if it only works on 75% of the operations, then no one will expect it to ever work and thus will never use it). Forward should never equal or be equivalent to backward.

Everyone whom uses the program only wants to see your glorious program, right? Not their little data or whatever it is they are working on. So FLOOD the workspace with an infinite array of tool bars and buttons covering almost the entire workspace. After all, if they paid $500 for a bigger monitor, your program should get that screen area, not their data.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (3, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909437)

Shouldn't these common actions (Save, Print, New) be presented in a standard way across all applications? I don't think it would help ease-of-use if OpenOffice implemented its own cutesy button bar that's different to all other apps. But if most programs on the system could change at the same time, it might be worth a try.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909565)

It would be better to leave the menu bar, but allow users to hide it by key combination (or autohide) to fit with how the OS behaves, so in kde ctl+m hides it, in vista/7 it has the ribon style button autohide stuff, on mac/xp it leaves it as it is.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909579)

Whoosh? The GP was making a joke in relation to the new ribbon UI in Office 2007. One would think it was pretty obvious...

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909743)

Where do you live so that most of us can come over and stab you to death.

the OO.o interface DOES NOT NEED TO BE REDESIGNED!.

Jeebus, the biggest problem with Office 2007 is having to retrain the users on how to use it.

Why is it that developers think they need to move crap around or redesign so that they frustrate users? Is it some kind of sick game?

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910243)

Why is it that developers think they need to move crap around or redesign so that they frustrate users? Is it some kind of sick game?

Because that's what Microsoft does. See, if you're going to release a new application or operating system and ask customers to pay for the upgrade, it helps if you offer new functionality that the customers can use. However, developing new functionality that's actually useful is difficult, and if you aren't able or aren't willing to do that, then the next best thing is to make it look very different. Ideally it will look much better, but as Windows XP's Luna theme has proven, "different" is enough.

Because if something looks different enough, human psychology makes people think that it is actually different. Also, culturally, we're disposed to think that newer+different=better. Therefore, people will pay to upgrade even if they don't stand to benefit.

So with each new version of Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office, they always change the UI even if the functionality is the same. At the very least, they apply a new skin and shuffle around which controls go where.

I'm not sure, though, what the benefit is for FOSS. It's not like people are going to pay to upgrade to the new version of OpenOffice.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (4, Interesting)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910513)

Well on the other hand if new users are trained to use ribbons coping that interface might be beneficial.

Now some aspects in OO.o are just horrible, the color picker looks *and works* like something straight from 1994.

I think they should ask for help or at least inspiration from AbiWord.

Abiword has a wonderful UI, minimalistic yet does 99% of what you want. It's colorful and even cute yet still looks professional. The icons represent exactly what they mean, the menu structure is very intuitive etc.

The problem of Abiworld is that it can't do *every fukken thing imaginable*, you can --for instance-- underline and/or overline and/or strike anytext, but always using the same color of the font. AFAIK in OO.o 3 you will be able to use 3 different colors for that. I'd personally stab anyone who sends me a document with multiple colors per font.

In principle you could apply Abiword's elegant GUI design to all the features in OO.o, it just will be a lot of work. But it would still be intuitive and standard.

This FLUX is both nonstandard and a cheap rip off.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910551)

I'm really starting to think that all these people that need extensive training to use office software should be out back shoveling sand over a wall. I mean, if they can't get the basics in 10 minutes of clickly-clicky, I shudder to think the pearls of wisdom that will emerge once they get down to 'work'.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910655)

THANK YOU

There are already more important problems with OO.o anyways.

In Writer, the image scaling looks like crap (they print out OK, but on screen they look horribly pixelated).

Various functions in Calc are cumbersome to use compared to Excel. They need to take some time with an accountant, hear all their complaints and streamline the UI - they're things that most users won't be bothered by, but when you're working with spreadsheets literally all day long it throws a big wrench in the works (accountants using spreadsheets where they should be using databases - NOT Access BTW - is another topic).

I don't have any serious problems with OO.o but lots of people who use office apps more often have complaints, they should fix those instead of trying to make it look nice. I think offering an "MS Office compatibility mode" in the installer to change the default file formats would go a long way to reducing complaints - that's the most common one, they hit save, don't look at what they're saving it as and then other people can't open the OpenDocument file and the whining starts.

Re:I had some ideas, but they are pretty "out ther (1)

homes32 (1265404) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909899)

yes. and just to show that we are in charge we should make that strip huge and not allow the user to control the size or move it to the side/bottom of the screen. zero flexibility is key.

Hide all the menus... (5, Funny)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909369)

... make everything available via hotkeys (emacs and vi mappings should be provided) and change the arrow keys to print the particular arrow typed. This would be a significant improvement over the current design and would encourage users to work instead of playing with their mice.

;)

Re:Hide all the menus... (3, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909787)

Next you'll probably want an IBM model M keyboard emulation mode that plays a springy sound every time a key is hit.

Re:Hide all the menus... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910693)

Next you'll probably want an IBM model M keyboard emulation mode that plays a springy sound every time a key is hit.

Mind if I fix that?

You want an IBM model M keyboard.

There. I would love to get one, except international shipping costs almost as much as the keyboard itself.

Re:Hide all the menus... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909809)

... make everything available via hotkeys (emacs and vi mappings should be provided) and change the arrow keys to print the particular arrow typed.

And don't forget to put up an extra dialog box or two before actually sending the page to the printer. Or maybe after.

Wiki has a problem... (4, Funny)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909449)

(Can't contact the database server: Unknown error (localhost))

(Can't contact the database server: Too many connections (localhost))

Isn't this kind of ironic, Oracle?

Re:Wiki has a problem... (3, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909547)

(Can't contact the database server: Unknown error (localhost))

(Can't contact the database server: Too many connections (localhost))

Isn't this kind of ironic, Oracle?

Where exactly is the irony?

Re:Wiki has a problem... (1, Redundant)

Unordained (262962) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909763)

Oracle (the company) buys Sun, Sun backs OpenOffice.org, Oracle provides database solutions, this is a database error ... thus the irony.

Re:Wiki has a problem... (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910355)

Except that Oracle hasn't yet finalized the purchase of Sun and Oracle doesn't host the site. Finally, even disregarding all that, it still isn't irony.

Re:Wiki has a problem... (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909567)

That may be so or more likely, the setup is plain wrong and is not using named pipe and instead TCP over localhost.

But sure maybe they jumped over to Oracle DB... that would indeed be a funny and ironic side effect.

Re:Wiki has a problem... (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909623)

Isn't this kind of ironic, Oracle?

Since Oracle doesn't host the site there is no "irony" in this situation.

FINALLY (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909461)

I'm surprised far too often by great and useful features I didn't know OO.o had.

Leave it be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909497)

Does anyone else think the UI doesn't have to be messed with.

Re:Leave it be? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909833)

When I look at the UI, it instantly reminds me of Word97. To be honest, that's about my only complaint - it looks old. I genuinely prefer the Office ribbon, but that's for my own personal reasons (See above if you're really that interested) and I don't really have any practical issue with the current design.

Re:Leave it be? (2, Insightful)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910703)

I agree (about it looking old, anyway). I think its layout should remain approximately the same, but it needs a facelift.

Boredom (1, Troll)

blhack (921171) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909499)

Why do people do this?

Vista, windows 7, office 2009, etc. etc.

These things are all failures for more-or-less one reason: the UI has advanced as far as it needs to. Interface revisions are okay, overhauls are NOT.

Re:Boredom (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909873)

Failures? Vista is the only thing in that list that's actually been released. And there's no such thing as "Office 2009". We're going from 2007 to 2010, buddy.

Re:Boredom (4, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910025)

Bullshit. Human interaction with computers is embarrassingly inadequate. I still have a calculator, despite having a computer capable of billions of FLOPS, why? I still sometimes write things on paper, even with my computer right in front of me, and being able to type faster than I write by hand--why do I do that?

I'll tell you why: because computer interfaces still pretty much suck. Getting what I want in front of me RIGHT NOW is an elusive thing in computerland.

Re:Boredom (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910401)

The only thing worse than computers is phones with computers in them.

My IP phone here at work helpfully keeps a log of missed calls, and their numbers. It helpfully displays these as a list on the screen, and helpfully lets you highlight one and press the "dial" button to instantly re-dial the call. But, uh... it's too fucking stupid dial the "9" for an outside line, meaning the call either fails or goes to some random extension in the company.

As an added bonus, there's no way to have the missed call list and dialing interface both on-screen at the same time. So my phone is surrounded by a pile of Post-It notes containing numbers I had to write down, only to dial mere seconds later.

In short: computer interfaces suck, ignore anybody who says "leave it the way it is" because the way it is sucks.

Re:Boredom (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910101)

Ever look at the difference between the old analog aircraft gauges and the newer strip-based instruments in glass cockpits? There's a massive difference. Looking at the Cessna 172S and comparing the analog to G1000 versions, the turn coordinator is different, the airspeed indicator and altimeter are now sliding strips, and all of them are overlaid on the horizon indicator, which is now essentially the size of the screen. There are enough differences that a pilot moving from analog to G1000 generally has to be checked out before being allowed to fly it.

Interface overhauls should be carefully considered, but suggesting that they should never happen is akin to announcing that nothing more can be invented. That's been declared by many people over time, and they are often proven incorrect.

Re:Boredom (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910311)

First, I apologize for my first post; I come from a future where windows 7 is released alongside office 2009, and they are both hated.

Second, I'm not saying that UI design is ALWAYS bad, and I know what you're talking about with flight instruments (Dad and brother are both pilots...dad just finished his IFR, bro is a full-time commercial pilot...i fly right-seat with both of them all the time).

What I'm saying is that needless UI redesign is usually bad.
Anecdotal evidence:

I used gimp. A lot. I use gimp pretty much all day long every day....buuutttt...I've been using Gimp 2.4...
I needed to use a plugin called "ufraw" (a frontend for dcraw, which processes raw files)...but ufraw is only compatible with gimp 2.6.x...
They totally redisgned the UI (err...not totally, but enough to frustrate me)...for what seems like no reason at all. Once you get in to using a product, be it office 2003, or gimp 2.4.x, or windows xp, or whatever, needlessly changing it means that you have to start learning all over again.

I'm not saying ALL redesign is bad, I'm just saying that *needless* redesign is bad. In my opinion, redesigning the UI for OO is needless.

Re:Boredom (0, Flamebait)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910315)

Windows 7 hasn't even been released yet, but is more successful in its pre-release state than Vista is post-release. (Weird.) Office 2009 doesn't (and never will) exist-- the next Office version will be 2010.

These things are all failures for more-or-less one reason: the UI has advanced as far as it needs to. Interface revisions are okay, overhauls are NOT.

Except Office 2007 has been a huge success due to the (badly needed, IMO) overhauling of the UI.

I give this troll 1/10.

Off-Topic Comment Counts (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909551)

I know its off topic, but I don't know the correct locations to post this...

A few days ago I stopped seeing the story comment counts on the main page. Is this a bug in Firefox or were they removed? If removed, why? They provided me valued information about the story.

Re:Off-Topic Comment Counts (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909697)

You've been subjected to "The Beta Index." Go in to Help/Preferences, and uncheck "Use Beta Index" in the Beta Index options.

Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909589)

It has never been hard to learn and is pretty ubiquitous. I think it all works pretty well.

While I am sure that all this additional exploration of new ideas and concepts is a good exercise in generating new ideas and all, I think gone are the days when "new" means "better."

It turns out that "circle" is the best shape for most applications of the wheel. (Some exceptions exist, you don't need to point them out.) For 2D information formatting and arrangement, the menu bar and tool bars do a pretty good job of making it as easy as possible even though other paradigms exist and the menu/tool bar doesn't cut it well enough for other things.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909681)

Actually yes there are problems with the OOo file menu. The menus are almost always over packed with options and many things are placed in non-intuitive places.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (2, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909777)

For me, the oddest placement is not on the File menu but on the Edit menu: why is Navigate there? I would think that it should go on the View menu like the various toolbars.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910159)

By "file menu" i meant the entire menu toolbar not specifically only the file menu. My bad.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (4, Interesting)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909729)

The problem with the standard menu and toolbars is that they don't scale. As each new release of hte product adds new functions, you add more menus and more toolbars and pretty soon your screen is full of toolbars, and you can't find anything in your menus (the stupid auto-hiding menus of Office 2000 was an attempt to deal with this issue, and everyone hated it).

Like it or not, those that give the Ribbon a real chance like it. They find it easier to use. New users find the Ribbon more intuitive.

It's only the people who are set in their ways and those that have to be "trained" in everything they do that hve trouble with the transition.

This is not to say that OOo should have a ribbon. Just that there are real reasons why MS moved to it, and OOo is starting to see some of the same problems. They have to do something.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909993)

The problem with the Ribbon is that each Ribbon (Ribbon-Tab?) is Function Oriented, rather than Task Oriented. Each Ribbon is effectively a fancy GUI version of a pull down menu for that function.

The Flex example in the article appears to be Task Oriented, so even though it may seem to have some Ribbon-like features in it, it actually could turn out to be quite different. It will be interesting to see how it finally gets implemented, I suspect it will end up Function Oriented because it's easier to implement.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910349)

They have to do something.

.. so they do the wrong thing. Bright future in politics there.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910623)

The solution is obviously to have both, put all the fancy features in the UI, but allow old people to turn them of and have a classic view!

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909747)

The issue is, it could be more efficient. Why not pull out the most common functions and arrange them in such a way that it's right at the top? Actually, this could be a big opportunity for OO.o. They could make a "customizable ribbon". You make the tabs, and say what goes in each one. That way, you've actually GOT what you use most.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909841)

I think it all works pretty well.

I agree, but the main reason that we have a menu bar is to conserve screen space. As screens have gotten larger and larger, so have the numbers of toolbars and pallets and other GUI elements that make everything one-click away instead of two. So, in fact, the menubar paradigm HAS changed - just so slowly that you might not have noticed.

Anyway, I'm all for reorganizing the interface, but there should be some way to hide all the ribbony stuff when you are on a machine with a small screen where menus still make the most sense. I've never tried to use Office 2007 on a netbook, but I'd wager it is a sick joke.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (2, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910213)

Anyway, I'm all for reorganizing the interface, but there should be some way to hide all the ribbony stuff when you are on a machine with a small screen where menus still make the most sense. I've never tried to use Office 2007 on a netbook, but I'd wager it is a sick joke.

1) The ribbon takes up fewer pixels than Office 2003's default toolbars, so it's definitely no worse than before, and
2) it can be set to "minimize", which basically makes it the same height as a normal menu bar.

In short, works fine on a netbook. Give it a try.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909925)

Holy crap you hit on it!!!!

Replace the UI with a single Click wheel!

You sir are a complete genius!

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (4, Interesting)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909961)

I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but when it starts to fill up it does get more cumbersome.

I took a job not too long ago where I was in word 90% of the day. Writing business requirements and the lot.

At the time I had a laptop with Office 2003 and a desktop with Office 2007. For the first little bit I wasn't all that impressed with ribbons, after a few months I dreaded having to use the laptop with Office 2003.

Change is becoming a harder and harder sell. So many people are trained to one approach that any change whether it is actually better or not is going to come with some resistance. If it's not broke don't fix it mantra. It isn't broke, but that doesn't mean there isn't a better way.

The round button is annoying and I'd rather they just left a stripped down version of the menu in there. The quick bar and subsequent short cut keys have come in handy and so now it isn't even that big of a deal to me...to start it was definately confusing. As I'm sure getting rid of the "Start" button in Windows was as well.

Same thing happened to my wife when I started using Ubuntu at home. Took her about a minute to find the top bar, but now it is just part of the deal. She hated Firefox at first, but now doesn't really mind it. At the end of the day things are very similiar.

Most people who use Office use Office. They are not just typing up some simple little paper, but are in there doing crazy layouts where the new templates in 2007 come in handy. Features slashdot reader might not even know about are used everyday.

I use OpenOffice 3 at home now and I do find it fairly clumsly to find the some of the more obsure stuff in the menus. It can still take a bit of time with the ribbons, but overall I find it to be more user friendly. Also, the button on the ribbon themselves have been enchanced since Office 2003. In Excel the new conditional formatting is much better. Word has previews all over the place where changing the font actually changes it on the screen before click okay...so you get an acutally preview quickly.

The ribbons are a nice addon to Office 2007, but alos there is a lot of useful features. If your a student writing papers or just writing a note to the editor I think you could get by with pretty much anything.

If you like vi then I'd have to ask for you to just sit quitely in the back. To each his own and this conversation is for the GUI lovers :)

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910083)

My biggest problem with the rebellion against the File Menu is that every operating system except Vista and Windows 7 use it. So if you're developing a brand new Windows application, anticipating it will be running on something post-XP, then it makes sense to ditch the File Menu for something more ribbon-like.

But please, don't get to clever. If you're running on Gnome or KDE or OSX, please just stick with the conventions of that OS. If you use alien UI conventions, even if they're theoretically better, it's just going to make your application look out of place, and you're likely to confuse and annoy people.

If you're working on OpenOffice and you really really want to get clever with UI conventions, please join up with one of the DE developers or start your own DE, and come up with really clever and interesting conventions. Maybe you'll revolutionize modern computing, but leave the office suite UI alone until you do.

Re:Is there something WRONG with the file menu? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910599)

menubars take up valuable screen estate are rarely used and are full of too many options that are hard to find! There is a damn good reason everybody is moving away from them,
OS X only ever shows one menubar at a time (and puts useful stuff there too)
Windows is moving towards a button to toggle the menubar/show its options
KDE has had ctrl+m for a long time

Toolbars often have too many confusing buttons too, if your editing a picture why do you want to be able to change its font type? As more functionality gets crammed into single applications, the number of buttons is only going to increase and the current method of adding toolbars simply doesn't scale well! Monitors are maxing out so you can't carry on adding buttons without taking away space that is meant to be given to the document.

Old does not mean best either!

The UI is simply gorgeous (4, Funny)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909709)

OpenOffice.org Wiki has a problem Sorry! This site is experiencing technical difficulties. Try waiting a few minutes and reloading. (Can't contact the database server: Too many connections (localhost))

It's sleek, informative and minimalist. 2-thumbs up, would buy again!

Leave Keyboard Shortcuts (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909735)

Please, please, please.

You can have it both ways. Do your Flux/Ribbon thing, but leave a standard mapping shortcut for those of us who don't like to spend 10 seconds mousing around when we can perform the same command in three keystrokes. Allow us to turn off the ribbon doodads, show both at once, or just the legacy menu.

You don't want to turn us into this [podblanc.com] , now do you?

Re:Leave Keyboard Shortcuts (4, Insightful)

makapuf (412290) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909785)

DOCUMENT keyboard shortcut prominently. I would use them, but I'm too lazy to look at the docs ...

DO NOT FOLLOW LINK (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909823)

Okay, that link to a clip from the movie Idiocracy is apparently to a white power / neo nazi site. Don't go there.

(Did I just goatse... myself?)

Re:DO NOT FOLLOW LINK (3, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910063)

Did I just goatse... myself?

No. In the event of an actual goatse, you would be quivering in the corner desperately searching for your innocence.

Re:Leave Keyboard Shortcuts (2, Informative)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910027)

Hit the alt key(in offcie 2007)...everything in the ribbon is availabe with a key combination. Maybe a different one then you are used too..but practically everything can be done with the keyboard.

My proposals (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909759)

* Remove save and open. They belong to the past. Manage memory-disk transfers as needed, not manually ! (as a first step auto save +save on close)

* file menu and file dialog belong to the file manager. Just provide a shortcut to it if needed. (like open this document folder in explorer)

* Get rid of "applications" and implement functionalities as file / folder views of the file manager (view as ..) use file metadata. (or make apps act like simple apps & use embedding of - any - apps) : integrate.

* TABbed views belong to the window manager !

here, I'm calm now.

Not Bad (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909797)

Quote from the article:
"""
        * The document is the most important UI element.
        * Don't show the user what he/she doesn't need at the moment (context sensitivity).
        * Don't focus on a single UI element (i.e. Ribbon, Menus, Tabs) - use a hybrid of elements so that the information is displayed in the most appropriate way.
"""

I like their idea of having more vertical bar, as the wide screen form is being widely adopted, it will be a better way to use our screen real estate.

Re:Not Bad (2, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910099)

Don't show the user what he/she doesn't need at the moment (context sensitivity).

Oh dear, I really don't like this one. The UI will be in constant flux. I won't know where things are or what the application can do. Also, there's a chance I am about to do what they don't expect me to do.

Re:Not Bad (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910215)

"I like their idea of having more vertical bar, as the wide screen form is being widely adopted, it will be a better way to use our screen real estate."

To be honest, that's actually the only real problem I have with Office 2007's ribbon interface. With older Office versions, reconfiguring the UI to free up vertical screen real estate wasn't a problem. If I could move the ribbon to a vertical strip on the side of the screen, I wouldn't mind it at all...

Now when someone sells me a 4:3 netbook, I promise to stop complaining about the ribbon :)

Re:Not Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910509)

I don't know yours, but my screen is a vertical one, with a resolution of 1200x1920. What a big tower of pleasure!

OO needs no UI redesign (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909891)

What,

It needs is a significant amount of effort bringing the graphs in Calc up to a level that even approachs what was available way back in 1986 in Lotus 123.

Calc's graphs are a MAJOR stumbling block to my being able to push OO to clients as an alternative to XL.

Redesign graphs, enhance them, whatever you want to call it, fix them please....

You could try Gnumeric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910631)

Although it's interface isn't quite as friendly as I want it to be, at least it is a tad more powerful than Calc, and the results tend to be better than Excel.

don't publicize it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909895)

Promote this competition on Graphic Design boards/communities/portals, offer up a few cool and trendy prizes (branded FOSS snowboards/skateboards/bikes/x-sports etc) and there will be hundreds of entries.

programmer nerds and geeks are the wrong people to ask anything about UI design, if they where this publicity drive wouldnt be needed in the first place (note: pc geeks/nerds/programmers are part of the FOSS UI disaster problems, lets stick to what we are good at and let "design experts" design the UI)

Mod me down, boys... (5, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909945)

I hated Office 2007's "ribbon" interface when I first saw it. However, after the first few days of using it, I found myself at least twice as productive when using it. Yeah, I know... it's a Microsoft idea, and therefore it's automatically bad. Except, it isn't. Everything I need is easier to get at with fewer clicks, and working properly with styles is finally a snap.

It's hard for me to take seriously people's snobbery toward the latest Microsoft UI designs, when so much of the open-source world is simply a direct rip-off of OLD Microsoft UI designs. OpenOffice is largely an MS Office 2000 clone, KDE started out as a beefier Windows 95 clone, and the new desktop menu in Gnome is a bastard stepchild of Vista and OSX. Up until very recently, innovation in UI design hasn't been an open-source strong point... and it would be nice to see more innovation rather than derivative work in this area. I look forward to seeing what the OOo community(*) comes up with.

(*) Just as I look forward to seeing what the "OOo community" IS under Oracle. Up until now, the community was basically "Sun".

Re:Mod me down, boys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910565)

I hate to burst you bubble but the current UI design predates Windows 3.1. Granted there are minor tweaks between versions but it was old with 95. Open source had more to look 'and rip' at than Win 95 which in itself was a ripoff.

Re:Mod me down, boys... (1, Redundant)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910627)

Until you use it on a netbook... Office '07 uses up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the vertical space on a eee pc.

Re:Mod me down, boys... (1)

NilObject (522433) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910629)

The problem is that you can't convince people to use open source software that has a unique/different UI. The only way people seem to be able to "sell" open source apps like Open Office is by saying "Oh, it's just like Microsoft's--except free!"

If that's the main selling point, you'll never see innovative UIs from the open source world.

(Of course, that's not to say that there are no cool UIs in the open source world--there's probably a few out there. Well, one or two, anyways.)

Spelling and Grammar and Conformity (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910151)

The latest version of OpenOffice is the first one on OS X where the spell checker actually uses the default, built in spell checker on OS X which is used by all the other programs and already programmed with all the preferences and words from my other work. I applaud the addition of this functionality.

Sadly, the UI by which it is accessed is clunky and nonstandard. In every other program, highlighting a word and right clicking on it brings up the context menu that lets me directly select the corrected version of the word. In OpenOffice I have to run the spellchecker which opens a separate window to provide suggestions which I then have to close once I'm done and go back to working. The only usable way to do spellchecking becomes to ignore all spelling errors until I'm done then go through and correct spelling mistakes at the end, a slow and tedious workflow.

Further, In every other program, the context menu that comes up when right clicking on a word allows me to use the dictionary/thesaurus service and to correct grammar mistakes using the universal grammar checker. OpenOffice still ignores the standard APIs and thus still does not have these freebie functions even basic text editors on OS X have. When I have to copy and paste my text out of my full fledged word processor and into a basic text editor in order to check grammar or apply any other text services, well something is wrong. Some of the features OpenOffice does present in their context menus are useful, but really I want to select the correct spelling for a word flagged as misspelled a lot more often than I want to change the font size of a word. The options presented to not reflect my needs and I doubt they reflect the needs of the average user.

So basically my complaint with OpenOffice's user interface is that it does not conform to the standards of the OS on which it is running and instead dumbs down functionality to the level of the lowest common denominator OS.

Whats wrong with Star Trek UI? (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910191)

C_Kode: Computer, close file.
Computer: File closed.

If it works for Captain Kirk and Captain Picard, it should work for Captain C_Kode too.

Re:Whats wrong with Star Trek UI? (1)

Blig (1167531) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910277)

Darn you! Now I want an Okudagram LCARS inspired GUI for my word processor! ;-)

Get rid of modal dialog boxes (4, Insightful)

xiox (66483) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910295)

Modal dialog boxes interrupt workflow. We need to make most dialog boxes modeless and dockable.

Worried about interfaces taking space. (1)

ruemere (1148095) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910363)

The interfaces should not steal user space. If necessary, it would be better to add auto hide or ability make them disappear at the click of a button. In other words, the interfaces should be transparent to the user.

Context sensitivity should not limit the user experience - everchanging option lists (much like under SAP) are a bane of learning. When stuff appears and disappears whenever you change context, you are forced to learn each context separately. Additionally, developers may find it hard to maintain consistency across changing contexts.

Scalability. It's a an Opera thing to me - I am free to choose the size of interfaces. Adjust them to preferences, make them fit the screen space. Therefore, allow users to scale interfaces just like one can scale documents.

Regards,
Ruemere

Dear OpenOffice developers, (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910387)

please get a copy of ClarisWorks from the '90s and CLONE IT. ClarisWorks on System7 in the BasiliskII emulator puts your product to shame in every respect.

The idea behind ribbon isn't bad (2, Interesting)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910461)

I suggested something similar on ubuntuforums a couple of years back and got shot down instantly. But the idea behind flux/ribbon is actually really good. Hide buttons that you arn't using at the moment and give the document more space.

Menubar:Replace the main menubar with a menubutton [mozilla.org] , use this to show all menu bar buttons that aren't shown by menu buttons that are spread out at the appropriate ends of the main toolbar (help)

Buttons: you are likely only interacting with one thing at a time, if define usage cases narrowly enough to put all the relevant tools on a toolbar but widely enough that there are only a few settings, then you can save space (or give more space to just the relevant tools).
*Some Actions can be done from any of the states Copy/undo stick this outside of a "container"
*Bind keys&buttons (automatically based on selection?) to toggle whats in the "container"
*Imo the container should be editing text/ editing pictures/layout(including columns & tables)/document(changing setting /print/save/open/new) and read (auto-hide the entire toolbar, giving 100% of screen estate to the document)
|Menubutton(s)|permanent buttons|toggles:relevant buttons|help|

Customizations:Make the whole thing customizable (if the relevant buttons are to big to fit in the provided space that section should be the first to loose space (be it only showing the 1st few and adding an arrow or allowing scrolling though the relevant buttons)) and allow users to define thier own usage cases, with repeated buttons (looking at you kde3) and thier own triggers (some people want to go straight to the text editing menu as soon as they select text others dont).
Make the whole look changeable (companies may want to replace the default menu button with a company logo? or make the whole thing bright pink?)
Allow the different sections to be separated (so you could give the relevant buttons an entire tool bar underneath)
Allow different toolbars to use different sized icons
Providing too much customization is not a bad thing as long as most people can use the defaults.
|Menubuttons|_____toggles_____|help|
|permanent buttons|relevant buttons|

Themes:Provide an easy&safe way to save/share a theme.
Provide sane defaults and get it out there, during the next release cycle look at which themes popular (you'll probably find there to be a few popular themes, classic, ribbon, office, geek, flashy) and ship them with the next release. There is no point in doing research designing what you thing is a good compromise for the work load that office/home users put their suite through, when you can just put a version out there and see what people do with it.

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