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Hi Charles,

(Sorry for long delay in my answer, but busy in my daily work)
Thanks for taking time to answer.

I think that I should have introduced myself, in order to better explain my arguments : I'm a mechanical engineer, software engineer and teacher (in a professional way : I have diplomas for all of them). I'm writing software since 1984, when I was teenager. Ok, it was only bad basic, on an Oric Atmos (!). Then I bought my first Mac in 1987 and I started to write scientific software form my mechanical studies. Then, finally, I could learn how to write code professionally. Since 1992, I wrote mostly scientific software (mechanical, also for medical), databases, then web sites, and for last 5 years I work with OpenERP. Since 1992, I listen to customer's needs and I have to translate that in code. And given my customer's feedback, I have some skills in "listening to users". And since 1987, my goal as a dev is to write software that is really easy to use, so since 1987, I've done UX design. My biggest project was a mechanical software for the leading european aircraft manufacturer, and 12 years after, it's still a success for users. And another example few weeks ago : the customer wanted a new functionality, and other dev started something complicated. I just discussed with people, asking few questions and then identified that they need not one but three answers. One answer for every context, every use case. Last but not least, every answer will be very easy to code !
So I'm not a newbie when I talk about UX Design or "listening to users".

(all my answers are inline)

Le 25/10/2013 17:08, Charles-H. Schulz a écrit :
Hello Michel,

I feel I need to address some of your points without talking too much
about the StartCenter proposal (which by the way I like very much).

Comments inline.

Le Fri, 25 Oct 2013 16:37:03 +0200,
Michel Renon <> a écrit :

First, I just want to say that what happens for the start center is a
huge fiasco for LibreOffice. It clearly shows that there is no design
process :
- a subject is thrown for GSOC without any initial work, studies,
validated UX design, prototype, nothing. Just "It would be useful to
present few recently used documents there (as thumbnails), and do
more fancy stuff." [1] And all others GSOC subjects (with UI/UX part)
are the same.

It seems you are expecting a professional process of people actually
working on a regular basis for that. I don't think that's the case
here, and it does not change all the skills and talent the team has.

- a student starts to code, without any information about UI/UX

- the student then wants to enhance UI/UX and makes some completely
improvised assumptions about what users expect [2]. In this thread,
you can read that Mirek starts a design whiteboard at the end of
July, half time of GSOC.

We must at least give credit to the Design/UX team for having enforced
a proper whiteboards-based process.

Just compare them with one test I made :

status, schedule, use cases, technical context, metric, measure for each proposal... All of these elements are missing in the whiteboards while they are minimum in any professional design process.

Again: this is a community, you
don't expect an homogeneous team to pop and start working out of the

Devs have created a state-of-the-art process to build LO : repositories, code review, validations, automatic builds, automatic tests and so on...
Why can't it be extended to the design ?

IMHO, it indicates that UX design and graphics are considered second-class citizen in open source projects : they are not directly linked to the code, they are here just to make the software look nice, so they are not very important.
Even Mirek (Design lead) has difficulties to have is proposals implemented !

My opinion is that the design process should be integrated in the global building process, just like other type of products (cars, buildings, any manufactured product...)

- he codes what he wants (because there is no roadmap, no

Yup, on the other it's called software freedom....

So LibreOffice is the *only* software/project that has no roadmap !...

it looks like a joke !
I'm sure people from MIMO and other professional users will appreciate that information.

- at the end of GSOC, the start center is unfinished, the UI/UX
brings lot of regressions. Worst of all : some huge lacks in a11y.

Do we
- use the proposal Mateusz gave us?

While being a very good proposal, it is based on broken foundations.

Why are they broken?

no real studies : no goals, no roadmap, no use cases, no metrics...

However, it shows that a skilled/professionnal designer can quickly
propose very interesting mockups, even if the designer seems to be a
graphist (not a UX designer).

True. But surely we should not burn the said graphist because he's not
an UX designer?

Please read my blog entries about this subject : (paragraph "No UX skills/knowledge")

tl;dr : UX and UI (graphics) require completely different skills. It's a common mistake to think they can be handled by the same person ("a designer") : he just has to draw a screenshot, or change some icons, some colors (cf dribbble or devianart).
I'm not the only one to fight against that :

If you know about an UX designer who could contribute
his/her time here, please bring him/her here.

To be fair, I think that a professional designer won't waste time in an unstructured team.
Before contributing, a pro designer would ask simple questions :
- who are your users ?
- what do they expect ? what are their problems ?
- what are your goals ? your vision for future versions ?
- what is your roadmap ? your technical constraints ?

As you don't want to /can't answer most of them, I can't imagine any pro designer will contribute.

A designer's time is as precious as a developer's time.
so when Mickael Meeks wrote:
"Designers should lead by inspiration, good relations with
          developers, and producing designs so compelling that
          developers cannot resist taking time to implement them"

it's a clear misunderstanding of design process : designing takes a lot of time and energy, and the proposal would be thrown by someone that just says "I don't like that so I won't code it"...

Another example : the color picker.
How many hours spent in designing that ? (whenever it's completed or not)
Will it be implemented any day ?
You may now understand why people don't rush in to make proposals.


     - clearly define a UI/UX design (with prototypes), validated by
every team

No. It needs validation by the development team for feasibility,
marketing; perhaps NLC if they find something problematic. But asking
each and everyone will not work because you will never reach 100%
agreement. And FWIW I had my share of disagreements with this team.

I was not precise enough : I meant one person of each team.
The complete process is described in my blog : (STEP3)

     - only then, start to implement it

It is a standard process when you want to build anything (a physical
product, a building...).

We don't build a product, we build a community. If you want to build a
product, please talk to MS Office, they're pretty good at that.

Uh oh... I absolutely do not agree :

TDF and Microsoft have the same kind of product : an office suite.
But they use completely different paths to create those products :
- MS is a private company, with values of Intellectual Property, closed software
- TDF is a foundation, with values of Free Software

What is important is :
from an user point of view, MS and TDF are similar : they both create an office suite. And users just want an office suite that works well and that fulfills theirs needs (in a professional context or not). And the idea of "building a community" is something internal for TDF : it's the way TDF is internally organized to create the product.

So LibreOffice is your product. And building a community is an internal process.

The way LibreOffice is developed today is the best way to shoot
himself in the foot :
- don't listen to users (is it the Gnome way of doing ? [4])

I don't think so, but I assume you know Henry Ford's famous sentence:
"if I were to listen to my customers I'd still be selling horse

Is this sentence your only argument ?
Mine is based on 20 years of listening to users :
we *always* have to listen to users.
And we have to be very careful when analyzing what they said : sometime we can use directly their requests, but most of the time, we have to translate, reorganize, mix, split, ask other questions, analyze and analyze again to guess their real need and find the best solution. But don't forget that the solution is an answer to their problem. Not what we want to do.
So we have to listen to them.

KDE devs now also work like that :
"When designing an application for a user, we should focus at his/her expectations (which are not necessarily ours)."

And another recent article :
"Listen, observe, iterate
You shouldn't really stop listening to your users, but the point is you aren't always going to hear from them exactly what they need."

So, yes, it's not an easy job, but it has to be done.

- no roadmap (Charles clearly said that [5])

Yes. This is a Free Software Project. Please learn more on how we work.

- incoherent UI/UX [6][7]

So the process is not perfect.

- schizophrenic behavior in design team [8]

I disagree.

- ship unfinished/undesigned features (template manager for LO4.1,
and today the start center)

We - and specifically this team - have a resources problem, thankfully
not one of talent. Are you a designer? Maybe you could help.

I already helped : see below.

All this make me feel desperate about LibreOffice. Really. And the
facts are here :

It is the end of the world as we know it and since Forrester says
so it must be true. But what do you do of *all the other articles
about LibreOffice*  :-)

As most users start switching to online and mobile version, there is
no free office suite to compete GDocs or Office365 or Office for
iOS/android. (where is LibreOfficeOnLine ? it would have been one

Where is your contribution?

Just read my wiki page !

Seriously, I can't stand this attitude:
negativity and nothing else. If you want to change and improve things,
go ahead.

I done it :
- a color picker prototype : *I was the first and still the only one to do something like that*
And it was ignored by the design team : [19:18]
This is really shocking because prototypes are foundations of design process.

- proposals on my wiki page
  specifically, I analyzed the state of Impress 4 :
  and made several proposals :
- urgent : (my mistake was to ask feedback on mailing list instead of creating asap bug report) - short-term : - mid-term:

  Then I made a proposal about entrance animations for Impress.
  You can see that I followed the process I was talking in my blog
but that proposal was refused by the design lead without any valid/scientific arguments :

  Then I gave the results of some brainstorming about a future UI :

- articles in my blog : a constructive critic :

Are all my proposals "nothing else" ?

If you are here to complain that life is tough and that we
don't do our jobs right, then go back to your silence, which is not a
solution because you won't change anything that way.

Everything I created for LibreOffice is still available in the wiki, in the mailing list archives. You can use it, if you want, well, if devs want.
You can't tell me I done nothing.

Given your last blog entry (, its clear that we completely disagree about designing software, so it's better for me to stop making proposals for LibreOffice for now. And that last blog entry sadly confirmed that LibreOffice is made by geeks for geeks only.



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