Ever since we've adopted the sidebar, we've had issues with duplicate
panels . Worse yet, the sidebar brings yet another UI element to look
through for commands. This might not sound like a big problem, but this
makes our already hard to use UI even harder to use, and is bound to get
worse as the sidebar develops.
I'd recommend to read through the usability problems Microsoft found with
its Office task pane (which was very much like our sidebar):
So what should we do?
I've been a big advocate of having a single place where to look for
commands. (That, by the way, is the single biggest advantage the Ribbon
brought to MS Office .) In our case, that place would be the toolbar.
My proposed solution would be to split the sidebar into individual panels
(e.g. Properties, Formulas, Custom Animation, Slide Transition, etc.) and
add buttons for launching them to the relevant toolbars. This would not
only solve the problems of panel duplication , but it would also add
context to the individual panels. For example, the Slide Layout and Slide
Transition buttons would appear in the Slide toolbar. The Functions pane
could appear when clicking the functions button in the formula bar.
Properties could easily replace all the toolbar buttons that currently
point to the relevant formatting dialogs. And we already have buttons for
Styles, the Gallery, and the Navigator.
In any case, it's imperative that we do something about the problem. We
can't afford to dig ourselves even further in terms of UX.
 "The Ribbon is the starting point for all functionality." --
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- [libreoffice-design] The Sidebar Problem · Mirek M.
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