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I think it's wrong to say the sidebar is the problem. The problem is a
duplication of controls. In my opinion, for the sidebar to be a good design
decision, we need to hide the formatting toolbar.

This is the setup I use every day:
<>    The sidebar becomes a viable option when you
remove the formatting toolbar and the toolbar entries for the navigator,
styles, and gallery, and I would say even then it still needs work. Having
the toolbar (panel?) on the side is awkward. I'd rather have that above the
sidebar in a toolbar than on the side of it. The little menu at the top of
the panel is weird, too. and not really needed.

Now, to the haters:
Some people have said that the sidebar emphasizes direct formatting. Those
people are wrong. I would not know there was such a thing as styles if it
were not for the sidebar. Applying styles is one of the sidebar's major
functions. Furthermore, it's stupid to say direct formatting is evil or
wrong or bad. It's not. Many times, people want to make one-page documents
that they can quickly make and print out, and direct ad-hoc formatting is
perfectly fine for that. 

The sidebar is nicer than pop-overs, because it doesn't get in the way of
the document-- it's always on one side, in the same consistent place. It's
nicer than massive toolbars, because it provides icons with context and
groups them together. It also links to the dialogs related to the buttons
there, so I don't have to go fishing through menus to get them. (Not to say
I don't like menus. Menus are a good thing for fully-featured applications
like LibreOffice) And it's in a place that makes sense: Documents are mostly
vertical--if you want to see the document while editing it, putting controls
at the side is a much better idea than putting them at the top.


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