I find this discussion a bit misguided. The idea seems to be simply to do
an all-encompassing, radical UI redesign without considering the pros and
cons of the current one, platform and toolkit limitations, or a possible
development plan. It seems as though you are trying to find solutions
without first framing the problem(s).
Right now, the plan is to do iterative improvements rather than a one-go
radical redesign, as we don't have the development power for one (we don't
even have enough interested devs to work on our proposed easy hacks right
now ), we want to test and refine as we go, and we want the transition
to be as smooth as possible.
However, I don't mind considering the big picture.
Given that most UI redesign proposals stem from Microsoft Office's UI
redesign, let's compare our current UI to Office's.
The advantages of Office's UI, as I see it, are:
* A single place to access commands. The user doesn't have to hunt for
commands across menus, toolbars, dialogs, and sidebar panes to find the
* Context. Irrelevant disabled commands are inaccessible and the most
relevant commands are brought to the forefront, thereby making it much
easier to find the desired command. Commands that are not relevant to
editing the current document, like New, Open, Templates, or Print, are
* No dialogs. There's very little need to use dialogs, which speeds up the
editing process and keeps the user focused on the document.
* Previews. Changes are previewed instantly in the document. Whereas
dialogs tend to have a preview area showing only the selection, using the
ribbon, the user can see what the changes look like inside the document.
* Better categorization. LibreOffice uses different categorization systems
for menus, toolbars, panes, and even the "Customize..." dialog. All of them
are unsatisfactory, with vague categories and oddities. Office has a single
categorization system and while it also has vagueness and inconsistencies,
it's a bit more logical.
* Visual design. The icon theme and the skin in Office seem much more
modern than our current look.
* Less customization. It's much harder to mess up your installation in MS
Office than in LibO with bad choices. Also, the Office Options screen is
much easier to go through and use.
* Readability. It's much harder to read through the ribbon than a standard
toolbar, as there is no clear path for the eyes to follow.
* Complexity. The ribbon is much more complex than a standard toolbar.
Therefore, it's harder to maintain and to make it adapt to changes.
* Touch-friendliness. The ribbon is not suited to a touch-environment. Even
under "Touch mode", it can be hard to target the commands shown with
* Nonconformity. The ribbon is alien to all platforms except Windows. Mac
OS requires a menu bar for each application.
* Space usage. The ribbon takes up a ton of space. (Some propose putting it
on the side, yet that could be a problem for people who need to have two
documents side-by-side, e.g. translators.)
* Inconsistencies. While I argued above that the categorization is better,
it certainly has its quirks. For example, some commands cannot be found
within the ribbon and are instead presented in a "Quick Access" toolbar or
are not presented at all. The "Home" category is too vague.
Notice that the advantages listed above don't require a ribbon-like UI and
can be accomplished using toolbars while retaining all of the advantages of
LibreOffice's current UI. Focusing on toolbars also allows a smoother
change and less development effort. The proposed EasyHacks are a first step.
Whatever we do, though, I hope we don't make things even more complex than
they are now.
Feel free to add your own observations.
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