Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

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satchitb satchitb
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Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

OS: Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric stable
Application: LibreOffice Writer 3.4.3

A user of LibreOffice suffers death-by-menu much like he or she did with MSWord 2003 or earlier. It is possible to cut down the number of menu entries.

Here's a few preliminary suggestions for reorganisation while staying within the same menu design:
A. File:
1. Wizards and Templates should be bundled together, and both should be displayed more prominently on the interface, because frankly, no one looks even knows of their existence unless they search very carefully.
2. Reload should be struck out, and Versions bundled into Changes and Compare Document under Edit.
3. Export and Export as PDF should be bundled together.
4. Send should renamed as Email, as all options seem to be regarding email. Consider scrapping this, because most users use attachments in their browser or mail client.
5. Printer Settings should go under Print.
6. Consider putting Digital Signatures under Properties.

B. Edit:
1. Changes and Compare Document should be merged with Versions into one consolidated feature.
2. I don't see any point to Repeat. What feature are users likely to repeat, other than possibly Paste, for which they can simply Ctrl-V again? It's confusing and should be removed.
3. Paste Special must go. Regular Paste works with plain and rich text, images and all other types. If not, it should.
4. AutoText should be moved to either AutoCorrect Options under Tools, or Fields under Inset.
5. Editing footnotes, indices, hyperlinks, images, etc should be handled contextually and should not be separate entries under Edit.
6. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the checkbox for Edit>Plugin does.
7. Find and Find & Replace should be bundled together.
8. Selection Modes and Select Text should be scrapped.

C. View:
1. Print and Web Layouts should be checkbox entries under a consolidated Layouts.

D. Insert:
1. Section should be removed. Manual editing with Headings works fine to delineate sections.
2. Headers and Footers should be combined.
3. Consider Cross-References into Index.
4. Indexes and Tables should become one entry instead of a sub-menu. It should be renamed "Indexes" or "Indices" to avoid confusion with the Tables menu.
5. Consider putting Envelope under File>Templates.
6. Remove Horizontal Ruler. Not only is a user liable to confuse it with the ruler on the top of the page, but it is useless (if it was intended to be a section break) and ugly beyond all belief.
7. Remove Table, as it is a function repeated in the main Table menu.
8. Frame and Floating Frame should be consolidated into one.
9. The sub-menu Picture should be one option. Scan could be an option included in the resulting dialogue, or it could be scrapped, as most users do not perform the function in this manner.
10. The option File should be removed. I do not believe any users attach files which are not covered in Picture, Sound and Video, etc to documents.
11. The options in the sub-menu Object should become separate options in the parent menu (because the name is ambiguous, and the options within have far clearer names), with OLE object (because users merely copy-paste Spreadsheets, Charts, Drawings etc from the relevant application in the suite or else create them within Writer itself) and Plug-in (because it is unintuitive) scrapped.

E. Format:
1. Rename Character to Font for greater clarity.
2. Consider scrapping Paragraph. Its functions are performed more easily without a menu option.
3. Remove Bullets and Numbering and introduce its options contextually when a user creates a bulleted or numbered list.
4. Bundle Page and Title page together.
5. Bundle Change Case with Font.
6. Remove AutoCorrect and use AutoCorrect Options under Tools for its functions.
7. Anchor, Wrap, Arrange and Group can be introduced contextually.
8. Remove Object, Frame/Object and Picture and introduce them contextually.
9. Consider bundling Columns with Page.

F. Table:
1. Consider removing Select. It does not require a menu option.
2. Remove Formula. It is covered under the Insert menu and, in any case, does not belong under Table.

G. Tools:
1. Consider bundling Outline Numbering and Line Numbering with Bullets and Numbering under Format.
2. Remove Gallery and introduce it contextually.
3. Remove Footnotes/Endnotes and introduce it contextually.
4. Remove Mail Merge Wizard and bundle it with Versions under Edit.
5. Remove the sub-menu Update and replace it with a single Update All Fields.
6. Consider bundling AutoCorrect Options under Options.

LibreOffice Writer, while being the most feature-rich word processor on Linux, is also often slow and accused of being disorganised and inelegant. Even keeping to the existing look, a lot can be done to streamline its menus and functions.
RGB.ES RGB.ES
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

(comments in-line)

2011/10/15 satchitb <[hidden email]>
<snip>

> 3. Paste Special must go. Regular Paste works with plain and rich text,
> images and all other types. If not, it should.
>

Paste special is used when you copy rich text format and want to paste
unformatted text to avoid formatting problems, for example (typically when
copying from a web page), or when you copy an object and want to paste a
picture of this object instead. I use Ctrl-Shift-V, but menu oriented people
will need that entry


> 4. AutoText should be moved to either AutoCorrect Options under Tools, or
> Fields under Inset.
>

Even is sometimes the results are similar, AutoText is a completely
different beast, not related with autocorrect nor fields: autotext inserts
"blocks of document", autocorrect change small pieces of text and fields
insert automated "live" content.

<snip>

>
> D. Insert:
> 1. Section should be removed. Manual editing with Headings works fine to
> delineate sections.
>

Headings has nothing to do with "sections": section can be used, for
example, to have on the same page text without columns and text with
columns: typical format for scientific papers. As a matter of fact I'll
eliminate the "Insert columns" entry instead, because its results can be
quite confusing (to change the page style or to introduce a section,
depending on the situation) if the user do not know what Writer is doing...
and most users do not know what Writer is doing.


> 3. Consider Cross-References into Index.
>

Why?
 <snip>

> 10. The option File should be removed. I do not believe any users attach
> files which are not covered in Picture, Sound and Video, etc to documents.
>

As a matter of fact, it is quite useful when you want to add some text
created on a different document and you do not want to use master documents
just to merge two files.


> <snip>
>
> G. Tools:
> 1. Consider bundling Outline Numbering and Line Numbering with Bullets and
> Numbering under Format.
>

All three are completely different, even if they *seem* similar. I'm afraid
that the only way to make this more clear is to completely redesign the
whole thing from scratch...


>
> LibreOffice Writer, while being the most feature-rich word processor on
> Linux, is also often slow and accused of being disorganised and inelegant.
> Even keeping to the existing look, a lot can be done to streamline its
> menus
> and functions.
>

Changing defaults! :)
Cheers
Ricardo

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satchitb satchitb
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

RGB.ES wrote
(comments in-line)

As a matter of fact, it is quite useful when you want to add some text
created on a different document and you do not want to use master documents
just to merge two files.
If you want to add text from another document, a simple Copy-Paste will do. All formatting is preserved.

Thanks for the feedback. Do you agree with my other suggestions?
RGB.ES RGB.ES
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

2011/10/15 satchitb <[hidden email]>

>
> RGB.ES wrote:
> >
> > (comments in-line)
> >
> > As a matter of fact, it is quite useful when you want to add some text
> > created on a different document and you do not want to use master
> > documents
> > just to merge two files.
> >
>
> If you want to add text from another document, a simple Copy-Paste will do.
> All formatting is preserved.
>
> That's depends on how many pages do you need to copy ;)

Thanks for the feedback. Do you agree with my other suggestions?
>
>
> I do not see problems on the other suggestions. Keep them coming!
Brainstorming is always a good thing.
Cheers
Ricardo

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steveedmonds steveedmonds
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

In reply to this post by satchitb


On 16/10/11 06:20, satchitb wrote:
> 4. Send should renamed as Email, as all options seem to be regarding email.
> Consider scrapping this, because most users use attachments in their browser
> or mail client.
>  
Send as is probably the major feature for us that makes LO stand out. In
a business environment where most desktops have a mail client "Send As"
enables simple sending to co-workers. For use of HP e-print printers
"Send As PDF" is a one step network printing solution from anywhere.
"Send As doc" is a one step share with users on the other side.

To our organisation it's invaluable.
steve

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Christoph Noack Christoph Noack
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

In reply to this post by satchitb
Hi Satchitb (???),

although still in the "LibO conference mode" just a few words concerning
your suggestion before I traveling home tomorrow (and thus being unable
to reply soon).

Am Samstag, den 15.10.2011, 10:20 -0700 schrieb satchitb:
> OS: Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric stable
> Application: LibreOffice Writer 3.4.3
>
> A user of LibreOffice suffers death-by-menu much like he or she did with
> MSWord 2003 or earlier. It is possible to cut down the number of menu
> entries.

First, thanks for your mail and your proposals - I also think that the
menus should be improved. And I'm happy if we can do that ... since it
involves quite some "costs" (given due to our larger project and the
larger user base), things should be really clear in advance.

Now the point: looking at your "preliminary suggestions", it seems to me
that these are primary personal thoughts. Some functionality you propose
to remove is really used by a larger user base. Some other functionality
is different to what you've stated ... or terminology is incorrect (e.g.
font instead of characters) when looking on the remaining functionality
in Writer.

Thus, my proposal is that you pick few (maybe only one) example and
analyze the pros / cons for changes. We have references to the OOo menu
specifications [1], and the usage data that can be used to derive used /
less used functionality [2]. Finally, you should discuss that changes
with other users / trainers / support providers whether they see any
blockers (e.g. special use cases for business users, document
automation, ...). Finally, we can work out a proposal.

Well, why the "overhead". The change targets the remaining (estimated)
number of users of close to 25 million people - we need to be sure. So,
it would be great if you could join and help us to streamline LibO ...

Cheers,
Christoph


[1] http://specs.openoffice.org/ui_in_general/index.html
[2] http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Tracking_results

> Here's a few preliminary suggestions for reorganisation while staying within
> the same menu design:
[...]


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satchitb satchitb
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

I really should have made myself more clear.  I didn't mean to suggest that functionality should be removed; merely that the functions of a particular menu entry be merged with another so as to create only as many menu entries as absolutely necessary. I really don't feel at all qualified to pass comment on LO's feature list.

For instance, when I said that we should scrap Paragraph, I didn't mean that the functions of Paragraph (which are most essential) should go; rather, I meant that it doesn't require a menu entry, and its functions can be performed contextually when selecting a body of text.
RGB.ES RGB.ES
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

2011/10/16 satchitb <[hidden email]>

> For instance, when I said that we should scrap Paragraph, I didn't mean
> that
> the functions of Paragraph (which are most essential) should go; rather, I
> meant that it doesn't require a menu entry, and its functions can be
> performed contextually when selecting a body of text.
>
> But that's depends a lot on how users work. I know people that do not use
menus at all (me, for example, XD) but also know people that exclusively use
menus, others that exclusively use right click... To the question "what is
really useful for the user" you will find almost as many answers as people
answering the question...
That's not to say "let everything as it is", but to underline the fact that
this is a sensible issue that needs lot of thinking and talking. A change
for the better will be greatly welcomed, but we first need to agree what
"better" means.
Cheers
Ricardo

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Jay Lozier Jay Lozier
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Re: Uncluttering the LibreOffice Writer menus

On Sun, 2011-10-16 at 11:01 +0200, RGB ES wrote:

> 2011/10/16 satchitb <[hidden email]>
>
> > For instance, when I said that we should scrap Paragraph, I didn't mean
> > that
> > the functions of Paragraph (which are most essential) should go; rather, I
> > meant that it doesn't require a menu entry, and its functions can be
> > performed contextually when selecting a body of text.
> >
> > But that's depends a lot on how users work. I know people that do not use
> menus at all (me, for example, XD) but also know people that exclusively use
> menus, others that exclusively use right click... To the question "what is
> really useful for the user" you will find almost as many answers as people
> answering the question...

Some people will use a combination of all methods: menus, right click,
task bars, and keyboard shortcuts. All three methods must available for
users or you risk irritating part of the user base. I know this adds
complexity and certain lack of elegance to the user interface. Probably
the best solution is allow all three methods and when practical allow
each user to customize each - I know really inelegant. For example I
love tweaking the task bars and occasionally will tweak the keyboard
short cuts.

> That's not to say "let everything as it is", but to underline the fact that
> this is a sensible issue that needs lot of thinking and talking. A change
> for the better will be greatly welcomed, but we first need to agree what
> "better" means.
> Cheers
> Ricardo
>



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