LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

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T. J. Brumfield T. J. Brumfield
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LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And there is
a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype. While
that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion on
radically altering the UI is unnecessary.

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.

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.

Most radical refactorings I've seen try to "clean" up the interface, but
then hide most of the features. We're asking users to relearn a familiar
interface, but why?

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.

Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
wouldn't most of our users be happy? If they had to re-learn a new system,
might it just drive users to Microsoft's office suite (if you have to
re-learn, you might as well learn the system used by the masses)?

I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are organized.
Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.

If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves, allowing
an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we know
most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
do our best to ease that transition?

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.

-- T. J. Brumfield
"I'm questioning my education
Rewind and what does it show?
Could be, the truth it becomes you
I'm a seed, wondering why it grows"
-- Pearl Jam, Education

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animesh meher animesh meher
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RE: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented


Has anyone considered the UI of IBM Symphony 3, its a step in the right direction .
And now that most monitors have larger breath , we can use it to our advantage.

Animesh Meher

> Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2010 13:05:38 -0500
> Subject: [tdf-discuss] LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented
> From: [hidden email]
> To: [hidden email]
>
> The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And there is
> a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype. While
> that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion on
> radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> Most radical refactorings I've seen try to "clean" up the interface, but
> then hide most of the features. We're asking users to relearn a familiar
> interface, but why?
>
> 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.
>
> Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
> wouldn't most of our users be happy? If they had to re-learn a new system,
> might it just drive users to Microsoft's office suite (if you have to
> re-learn, you might as well learn the system used by the masses)?
>
> I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are organized.
> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
>
> If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
> chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
> Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
> mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves, allowing
> an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
> specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we know
> most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
> do our best to ease that transition?
>
> 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.
>
> -- T. J. Brumfield
> "I'm questioning my education
> Rewind and what does it show?
> Could be, the truth it becomes you
> I'm a seed, wondering why it grows"
> -- Pearl Jam, Education
>
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Peter Rodwell Peter Rodwell
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
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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Scott Furry Scott Furry
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
  On 02/11/10 12:05 PM, T. J. Brumfield wrote:
> The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And there is
> a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype. While
> that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion on
> radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
<snip>

> I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are organized.
> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
>
> If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
> chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
> Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
> mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves, allowing
> an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
> specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we know
> most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
> do our best to ease that transition?
>
> 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.
>
> -- T. J. Brumfield
+1
Thanks T. J. for putting into words what I was thinking about the UI
redesign.

I concur with this thinking. Why re-invent an unpopular feature. This
kind of idea was brought up when OOo unveiled a ribbon-like interface.
Just because we can redo the UI doesn't mean we should. Can we avoid the
"bikeshedding" and "chasing after the cool kids", please?

I vote for the application of the K.I.S.S. principle.

Scott Furry



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RGB.ES RGB.ES
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
A big +1
That's why I started the thread about better defaults: this will help
a lot more than a new, shiny but unknown interface.
OOo/LibO interface IS modern and flexible (contextual toolbars,
dockers... everything customizable), but it have horrible defaults
values.
A couple of fixes here and there (some toolbars do not work well when
vertical) at it will be just perfect.

2010/11/2 T. J. Brumfield <[hidden email]>:

> The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And there is
> a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype. While
> that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion on
> radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> Most radical refactorings I've seen try to "clean" up the interface, but
> then hide most of the features. We're asking users to relearn a familiar
> interface, but why?
>
> 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.
>
> Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
> wouldn't most of our users be happy? If they had to re-learn a new system,
> might it just drive users to Microsoft's office suite (if you have to
> re-learn, you might as well learn the system used by the masses)?
>
> I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are organized.
> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
>
> If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
> chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
> Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
> mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves, allowing
> an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
> specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we know
> most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
> do our best to ease that transition?
>
> 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.
>
> -- T. J. Brumfield
> "I'm questioning my education
> Rewind and what does it show?
> Could be, the truth it becomes you
> I'm a seed, wondering why it grows"
> -- Pearl Jam, Education
>
> --
> Unsubscribe instructions: Email to [hidden email]
> Posting guidelines: http://netmeister.org/news/learn2quote.html
> Archive: http://www.documentfoundation.org/lists/discuss/
> *** All posts to this list are publicly archived ***
>
>

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T. J. Brumfield T. J. Brumfield
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

Can we compile a list of suggestions on how to improve the defaults?

Is there a wiki where we could compile the list?

-- T. J.
On Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM, RGB ES <[hidden email]> wrote:

> A big +1
> That's why I started the thread about better defaults: this will help
> a lot more than a new, shiny but unknown interface.
> OOo/LibO interface IS modern and flexible (contextual toolbars,
> dockers... everything customizable), but it have horrible defaults
> values.
> A couple of fixes here and there (some toolbars do not work well when
> vertical) at it will be just perfect.
>
> 2010/11/2 T. J. Brumfield <[hidden email]>:
>  > The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And
> there is
> > a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype.
> While
> > that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion
> on
> > radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > Most radical refactorings I've seen try to "clean" up the interface, but
> > then hide most of the features. We're asking users to relearn a familiar
> > interface, but why?
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
> > wouldn't most of our users be happy? If they had to re-learn a new
> system,
> > might it just drive users to Microsoft's office suite (if you have to
> > re-learn, you might as well learn the system used by the masses)?
> >
> > I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
> > improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are
> organized.
> > Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined
> up
> > with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
> >
> > If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead
> of
> > chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
> > Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
> > mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves,
> allowing
> > an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
> > specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we
> know
> > most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't
> we
> > do our best to ease that transition?
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > -- T. J. Brumfield
> > "I'm questioning my education
> > Rewind and what does it show?
> > Could be, the truth it becomes you
> > I'm a seed, wondering why it grows"
> > -- Pearl Jam, Education
> >
> > --
> > Unsubscribe instructions: Email to [hidden email]<discuss%[hidden email]>
> > Posting guidelines: http://netmeister.org/news/learn2quote.html
> > Archive: http://www.documentfoundation.org/lists/discuss/
> > *** All posts to this list are publicly archived ***
> >
> >
>
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mirek2 mirek2
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Scott Furry
2010/11/2 Scott Furry <[hidden email]>

>  On 02/11/10 12:05 PM, T. J. Brumfield wrote:
>
>> The OOo team has been working two years on Project Renaissance. And there
>> is
>> a long running thread here in the discuss archives of a UI prototype.
>> While
>> that particular prototype looks clean/sharp, I think all this dicussion on
>> radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
>>
> <snip>
>
>  I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
>> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are
>> organized.
>> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
>> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
>>
>> If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
>> chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
>> Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
>> mimic it. People forget, but Microsoft used this tactic themselves,
>> allowing
>> an option for Word users to use Wordperfect key-mappings, and provided
>> specific help for Wordperfect Users trying to migrate to Word. Since we
>> know
>> most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
>> do our best to ease that transition?
>>
>> 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.
>>
>> -- T. J. Brumfield
>>
> +1
> Thanks T. J. for putting into words what I was thinking about the UI
> redesign.
>
> I concur with this thinking. Why re-invent an unpopular feature. This kind
> of idea was brought up when OOo unveiled a ribbon-like interface. Just
> because we can redo the UI doesn't mean we should. Can we avoid the
> "bikeshedding" and "chasing after the cool kids", please?
>
> I vote for the application of the K.I.S.S. principle.
>

I'd like some progress on the UI front in LibO. To be honest, I'd say most
LibO competitors (MS Office, AbiWord, iWork, Google Docs, ...) have better
UIs than LibO. That's because LibO has tons of features that are just put
under some menu without much consideration about how an average user would
look through these features. Where LibO absolutely fails is its Options
window -- it's absolutely unusable.

I'd say LibO's UI should change incrementally. It shouldn't copy MS (I don't
need or want the Ribbon on LibO) and it should be well thought-out and
shouldn't force a long-time user to relearn.

I'd begin by implementing command search:
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/User_Experience/Command_search and
by making customized interfaces saveable (so that companies could have the
same setup on all their computers): that would make it much easier to find
commands and it would make it possible to keep using an old custom UI even
if LibO's default UI changes.

And only then, when there's no worry about having to learn something new,
should the UI change.

>
> Scott Furry
>
>
>
>
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Christoph Noack-2 Christoph Noack-2
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
Hi T.J.!

Am Dienstag, den 02.11.2010, 13:05 -0500 schrieb T. J. Brumfield:
>
> I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained,
> but
> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are
> organized.
> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be
> shined up
> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.

Many people asked itself whether some tweaks might make the current UI
more usable in the long-run. To make a long story short: no.

To address some of your points:
      * Visual Design: New icons / gradients / gloss doesn't improve the
        interaction quality, people rely on. We might only get a short
        positive effect, but no improvement. People will notice that :-)

      * Cleaning: When designing functionality for the UI, one will
        notice that the menus itself are the problem. We have far too
        many small "atomic" features combined with "workflow related"
        topics. Here, our UI doesn't scale (The "where to put" problem
        comes up quite regularly). Thus, in the meantime (e.g. the
        Renaissance Team) improves selected workflows that will finally
        lead to a better menu structure (because you won't need some of
        the options any more). But after all, too many features and the
        (for this kind of application) "wrong" interaction concept.

      * Defaults: There is work done on that - the Renaissance team
        works on "Better Defaults" already and RGB ES did also propose
        to work on better defaults (as he also mentioned). This is a
        very good start - defaults and templates are two dark
        chapters ;-)

      * Step-by-step improvements: I hope that we'll be able to improve
        many things - besides the menus. For example, Mirek put in some
        nice ideas ...


Cheers,
Christoph


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T. J. Brumfield T. J. Brumfield
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

Restructuring the menus isn't the massive drastic change many people have
talked about. I'm fine with restructuring the menus, and encourage it.
However, all the Renaissance mock-ups/prototypes I've seen seem to mimic the
Ribbon UI.

As someone who uses both MS Office and OOo on a daily basis, I find the OOo
FAR MORE USABLE for an advanced user. Every day there are tasks I want to
accomplish in MS Office, but I can't find the appropriate option in the
Ribbon interface. It drives me nuts.

The menus may be poorly organized now, but my point is that we shouldn't
abandon the model of toolbars and menus to chase something new like Ribbon.
It isn't simply a matter of a brief learning curve. 3 years after the Ribbon
first came out, I still loathe it. I know I'm not the only one.

And while I haven't seen a clear indication that the Renaissance has
committed completely to a specific direction, every presentation I've seen
suggests you are moving to a Ribbon clone. I want absolutely nothing to do
with that, nor do I feel it is in any way better for usability to hide 95%
of your functionality. While I understand the claims of signal to noise,
eventually you need something other than the basic icons on the Ribbon and
you simply can't find those options. The trade-off is terrible.

-- T. J.

On Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 4:18 PM, Christoph Noack <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi T.J.!
>
> Am Dienstag, den 02.11.2010, 13:05 -0500 schrieb T. J. Brumfield:
> >
> > I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained,
> > but
> > improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are
> > organized.
> > Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be
> > shined up
> > with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
>
> Many people asked itself whether some tweaks might make the current UI
> more usable in the long-run. To make a long story short: no.
>
> To address some of your points:
>      * Visual Design: New icons / gradients / gloss doesn't improve the
>        interaction quality, people rely on. We might only get a short
>        positive effect, but no improvement. People will notice that :-)
>
>      * Cleaning: When designing functionality for the UI, one will
>        notice that the menus itself are the problem. We have far too
>        many small "atomic" features combined with "workflow related"
>        topics. Here, our UI doesn't scale (The "where to put" problem
>        comes up quite regularly). Thus, in the meantime (e.g. the
>        Renaissance Team) improves selected workflows that will finally
>        lead to a better menu structure (because you won't need some of
>        the options any more). But after all, too many features and the
>        (for this kind of application) "wrong" interaction concept.
>
>      * Defaults: There is work done on that - the Renaissance team
>        works on "Better Defaults" already and RGB ES did also propose
>        to work on better defaults (as he also mentioned). This is a
>        very good start - defaults and templates are two dark
>        chapters ;-)
>
>      * Step-by-step improvements: I hope that we'll be able to improve
>        many things - besides the menus. For example, Mirek put in some
>        nice ideas ...
>
>
> Cheers,
> Christoph
>
>
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Peter Rodwell Peter Rodwell
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

Quoting T. J. Brumfield:

> As someone who uses both MS Office and OOo on a daily basis, I find the OOo
> FAR MORE USABLE for an advanced user. Every day there are tasks I want to
> accomplish in MS Office, but I can't find the appropriate option in the
> Ribbon interface. It drives me nuts.

It drives me nuts, too. I've been adding stuff to the Quick Access Toolbar
but that's getting rather crowded.

Also, I moved from a Spanish language version of 2003 to an English
version of 2010 and I still keep on hitting CTRL-G for "Guardar" instead of
CTRL-S for "Save".

I have a language mix here -- Spanish and English versions of Win 7, with
both types of machines running Spanish and English language software. I'm
therefore particularly sensitive to programmers relying on operating system
texts: an English language program will ask me to click on "OK" while the
button on the screen says "Aceptar". Sloppy work, IMHO. I'm now downloading
the LO beta and I'll be looking out for this! :)

P.


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Christoph Noack-2 Christoph Noack-2
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
Hi T.J.!

Am Dienstag, den 02.11.2010, 16:27 -0500 schrieb T. J. Brumfield:
> Restructuring the menus isn't the massive drastic change many people have
> talked about. I'm fine with restructuring the menus, and encourage it.
> However, all the Renaissance mock-ups/prototypes I've seen seem to mimic the
> Ribbon UI.

What kind of specification used for implementation you talk about? All
of the mock-ups (by the core team) I know about, did include the
application menu. So this seems to be different to what you describe.

I would like to avoid the term ribbon in such discussions - if possible.
I know that many people do have mixed feelings (sometimes very strong
opinions) and sometimes require some more substantial knowledge what the
"Microsoft Fluent" concept is about. For example, most people don't know
that the often requested "live previews" part of "the ribbon". And to be
honest - it is very likely that any good interaction concept that will
be proposed will include these "live previews", too. Is this bad?

The previous paragraph was just my attempt to ask for having a look at
the core problem. Many people proposed to "clean up / reorganize the
menus" - this always sounds good, but assumes that it really works
("really" includes that it is validated with users). We tried, and we
found that there are quite inevitable limitations. So I'd like to ask
all to also consider something which might imply changes - without the
need to clone Microsoft Fluent.

That's it for now ... first, let's get a working project to continue
such thrilling discussions ;-)

Cheers,
Christoph


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Gianluca Turconi-3 Gianluca Turconi-3
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by animesh meher
Il 02/11/2010 19.13, animesh meher ha scritto:
>
> Has anyone considered the UI of IBM Symphony 3, its a step in the right direction .
> And now that most monitors have larger breath , we can use it to our advantage.

Definitely, +1.

Here are some screenshots taken from Symphony 3:

http://www.lffl.org/2010/02/ibm-lotus-symphony-3-beta-2-ottima.html
--
Gianluca Turconi

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Gianluca Turconi-3 Gianluca Turconi-3
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Christoph Noack-2
Il 02/11/2010 22.58, Christoph Noack ha scritto:
> I would like to avoid the term ribbon in such discussions - if possible.
> I know that many people do have mixed feelings (sometimes very strong
> opinions) and sometimes require some more substantial knowledge what the
> "Microsoft Fluent" concept is about.

Christoph, no offense intended, but those Renaissaince mock-ups were not
*the* Ribbon, but they were really ribbon-like.

And, as a 10 years OOo user, I usually don't talk about concepts
(theory), but about productivity (reality).

As long as I used the Ribbonized MS Office and IBM Symphony 3 (4 weeks
both, for a programmed migration that didn't occurred), only IBM product
didn't decreased my productivity. It was not perfect, but it was
profitably usable for users different from newbies or MS Office adepts.
--
Gianluca Turconi

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mgagnonlv mgagnonlv
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Gianluca Turconi-3
Le 2010-11-03 03:50, Gianluca Turconi a écrit :

> Il 02/11/2010 19.13, animesh meher ha scritto:
>>
>> Has anyone considered the UI of IBM Symphony 3, its a step in the
>> right direction .
>> And now that most monitors have larger breath , we can use it to our
>> advantage.
>
> Definitely, +1.
>
> Here are some screenshots taken from Symphony 3:
>
> http://www.lffl.org/2010/02/ibm-lotus-symphony-3-beta-2-ottima.html


I have mixed feelings on that.

On one hand, if I absolutely have to have all my properties on screen
then it makes a very good use of real estate. But there are many times I
use the wide screen to my advantage by installing a second window to the
right with either my source, internet references, other documents, etc.
And in Calc/Excel, I would want an even wider sheet.

So properties should either be displayed such as above or in its own
window (like Styles and Navigation) that would be dockable. It would
more or less follow the traditional OpenOffice / LibreOffice approach.
One change I would do, however: if the box is docked, it should be
displayed all the time; its content would change depending on whether
it's paragraph properties, styles, etc. On the other hand, if it is a
window, it should disappear when not needed to minimize screen clutter.

Advantages of such a system ?
- In Calc, the Properties could be displayed to the right or the bottom,
to allow ideal use of real estate.
- With dual screens, it is easy to put a window on a second screen.



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

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Johannes Bausch Johannes Bausch
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
>  I think all this dicussion on
> radically altering the UI is unnecessary.
Well I think it is okay to have such discussions. You can say that you
like the current UI as it is, but this doesn't make new ideas
superfluous.

> 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. But the question is: Is the quite similar, but
not too similar interface of OO BETTER than MS Office? I don't think
so.

> 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.

> And the
> laundry list of other features can be found in the drop-down menus.
Which, again, are not very "present" to the user.

> Most radical refactorings I've seen try to "clean" up the interface, but
> then hide most of the features.
Not hide. The point is that today we HAVE more screen space, but at
the same time (new) icons are of little or no help to a user (as I
already said). They're hard to grasp. The essential point is that we
want to reduce the click count to a specific feature by not only
placing icons into toolbars but other things, too, such as a colour
selector, options, checkboxes, you name it.

> We're asking users to relearn a familiar
> interface, but why?
Because the current one has lots of space for improvement. 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. How often do you sit
before a document and have to select text, change one attribute,
select another paragraph, change the same attribute, ...
Office suites are cluttered with an enormous amount of features. Do
you know Origin? OO begins to look like it. And while other companies
(yeah, Microsoft) at least try to bring improvements and while other
technologies such as HTML and CSS are evolving rapidly we do...
nothing.
Seriously, our current office suite looks like assembler in the age of python.

> 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.
No. It's so not about gradients and colours. True, they are not
perfect, but who cares about that? 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.

> Honestly, if we kept the existing system of toolbars and drop-down menus,
> wouldn't most of our users be happy?
No, because soon they'll die out because no new users will switch to
OO. That sounds drastic, but imagine the following: at the moment the
office suites are (mostly) compatible and comparable in both usage and
interface. They will be very different five years from now, if OO does
nothing about it. Either we attract more users because we have the
SIMPLER interface or we adapt to the one MS is offering. The third
option is keeping an outdated (but working) interface which satisfies
its current users.

> If they had to re-learn a new system,
> might it just drive users to Microsoft's office suite (if you have to
> re-learn, you might as well learn the system used by the masses)?
Not if there's nothing to learn. Modern software should be easy to
grasp, at least the simple features.

> I truly believe the current approach works and should be maintained, but
> improved. There might be some slight tweaks in how the menus are organized.
> Toolbar defaults might be optimized. And the overall UI could be shined up
> with some gloss, new icons, gradients, spot color, etc.
Again, no, it's not about colour, icons or whatever. That's eyecandy.

> If anything, I think we should be going the opposite direction. Instead of
> chasing the Ribbon of 2007/2010, I think we should embrace the abandoned
> Office 2003 UI even more. Perhaps provide an option to all but completely
> mimic it.
Microsoft will adhere to its ribbon interface, so in my opinion
mimicing another old system is no good idea.

> Since we know
> most users coming to Lo/OOo are coming from Microsoft Office, shouldn't we
> do our best to ease that transition?
+1, but here you say exactly what I mean: people won't migrate because
for them, no ribbon will be harder than ribbon.

> 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.
The most essential part at the moment is the interface. Are there any
features missing which should be implemented? I don't know one. At any
time when someone asks me how to do some specific task in OO I tell
them that it's possible. And since Writer is the figurehead of the
complete office suite, I think we should start here. I haven't looked
into the source code (yet) but the UI should be a separate part,
right? So we're not talking about rewriting OO from scratch.

I don't want to criticise you too much and I appreciate it when you
say what you think, so don't take it personally. I just wanted to
clarify some points and (hopefully) convince you - at least in parts -
or others, that OO is by no means good as it is. Indeed, especially
the interface is something which needs work, and in my opinion we
should take the chance and do something special about it. Look at
Firefox: they saw that MS did it the wrong way and decided to do
something different. That's the power of open source: we cannot be
hurt by failure.

Joey

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Christoph Noack Christoph Noack
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Gianluca Turconi-3
Hi Gianluca!

Am Mittwoch, den 03.11.2010, 09:01 +0100 schrieb Gianluca Turconi:
> And, as a 10 years OOo user, I usually don't talk about concepts
> (theory), but about productivity (reality).

Cool! We are definitively on the same side. What counts is usability and
productivity ... it is less about if people (dis)like a rectangular
area.

Cheers,
Christoph


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mgagnonlv mgagnonlv
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Johannes Bausch
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,
--
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Montréal (Québec, Canada) -- http://mgagnon.net

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Christoph Noack-2 Christoph Noack-2
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Usability Issues (Re: [tdf-discuss] LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented)

In reply to this post by T. J. Brumfield
Hi T.J. and all the others!

Discussing things like tweaking and re-inventing, I forgot about the
good defaults and all the things we can do right now. Moreover, Michael
pointed towards his "Easy Hacks" developers page that currently lacks
some usability stuff [1]. Time to change that?

What is currently missing is a collection of simple tasks that can be
prepared to be made available for developers.

Am Dienstag, den 02.11.2010, 13:05 -0500 schrieb T. J. Brumfield:
> 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.

So if anybody wants to put some hands on (which would be great), here
are some starting points for getting ideas that are already documented
in the web.

SOURCES

Lendo's Issue Collection (very good IMO)
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/User:Lendo/Usability

OpenOffice.org Issues, Keyword Usability
goo.gl/smLR9 (shortened, to avoid lengthly URLs)

OpenOffice.org Issues, Tagged ux-ctest
goo.gl/pluag (shortened, to avoid lengthly URLs)

OpenOffice.org User Experience Todo (rough list)
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/User_Experience/ToDo

OpenOffice.org Calc Todos
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Calc/To-Dos/Usability

Ubuntu Paper Cuts
Ubuntu started to collect trivially fixable usability bugs and
documented them in their issue tracker. Since OOo is part of Ubuntu,
there are also some ideas how to improve it (mainly issues on the Linux
platforms). Here is a list which may contain anything:
goo.gl/cPzr1 (shortened, to avoid lengthly URLs)


Just a last request - if anybody starts to work on that, please let us
discuss proposed changes first. So be cautious :-) People may have
raised very personal issues that may even have a negative effect on many
other users. But if we don't start to look at it, we won't even have
improvements. A very good and short statement (thanks Ubuntu!):
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PaperCut#Who%20is%20the%20%22average%20user%22?

Cheers,
Christoph

[1] http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/libreoffice/EasyHacks
[2] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PaperCut


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marcpare4 marcpare4
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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by mgagnonlv
Le 2010-11-03 17:28, Michel Gagnon a écrit :
Thanks Michel:

  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,

Disclaimer: I am not too knowledgeable of the creation/use of styles.

Just a comment on styles. As I deal with mostly new and casual users, I
have found that styles to these people are of little importance. When
these two groups are given a quick introduction to styles, they usually
abandon this effort early n the game. I somehow attribute this to the
"3" rule *. Most people will retain steps in information only up to 3
steps. Example: File->Open->click on file  If this rule were to be
respected and the style configuration could be broken up in steps of "3
steps to accomplish something". Then I think that for the casual user,
at least would be able to accomplish creating some sort of style. The
style process must be streamlined to lower the amount of steps required
to achieve a particular result.

Just my take on styles.

* 3 steps. Try it out on your family members or try to notice this in
your workplace. The general population can only absorb materials in
"bunches" of 3's. The most difficult of which, following steps when
learning how to complete a particular task that is completely unknown to
that person. Once you get to the 4th step, most people will have
forgotten some part of the first 3.

A more adept person will remember 4 steps or more.



> 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.

Agreed.

Background: In educational circles, a student graduating from grade 8
(in Ontario, Canada) is expected to be proficient in Word, Powerpoint
and Excel at a somewhat medium level. I usually start coordinate/help
teaching the use of Word by grade 4; Powerpoint in grade 6; and usually
Excel by grade 7; grade 8 students are expected to use these and start
exploring more advanced notions.

Powerpoint has now gained quite a bit of ground in usage in comparison
to Word. That is to say that being able to use both programmes by
students at an acceptable level is quite a common expectation. Excel is
still coming up short. Although, there is always a push in math circles
for the use of Excel by students for simple graphing and spreadsheet
solutions.

So, improving Impress' use of sound, video and animation would
definitely make for a good contender to Powerpoint, The treatment of all
three should be looked at a little close in order to improve their usage.

Marc


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Re: LibreOffice UI should be tweaked, not reinvented

In reply to this post by Johannes Bausch
On Wed, 3 Nov 2010 20:55:19 +0100, Johannes Bausch wrote:
> 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.

Removing the font chooser, and font-size selector would save lots of
space that could be replaced with a simple style chooser :)

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