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I am a mere user of the LibreOffice suite so I know that my opinion won't
count for much compared with that of some of the great contributors present
in this mailing list.
Nevertheless I would like to leave my opinion on the sidebar.
Even though it isn't a new UI or concept since it came from Lotus Simphony
(sp?) it is so unknown to the common user that it feels as a new and fresh
UI paradigm to most users.

Furthermore, it brings something that LibreOffice direly needed for a long
time: a refreshed UI. *All of this while not radically changing the way
that the users interact with the LibreOffice UI because it does not mess
around with the menus, nor with the actual presence of the toolbars*.

I have attached two pictures of how I use the Sidebar in Writer and Calc.
Basically they are taking the place of the toolbars on the top. I maintain
only the toolbar with the printing options, cut, copy, paste, save, open
and a few other elements not present on the Sidebar.

For my use case the advantages that the Sidebar brings over the traditional
toolbars are:
1 - It allows me to do is save precious vertical space while using the
horizontal space much more efficiently. This gives me a better view of my
document and a better view of the formatting options that are usually
present on the toolbars.
2 - It gives more editing options and more visual information about what
those options do. With the toolbars on top, very often a lot of editing
functions are hidden after the arrow because space constraints don't allow
the toolbars to show all formatting options. This does not happen with the
Sidebar and makes it easier for me to edit the document/spreadsheet.
3 - It allows me to do formatting without opening so many pop-up menus
getting placed on top of the document and without me having to drag those
menus around.

The people who are resistant to the sidebar shouldn't think of it as
replacing the toolbars on the top or as radical change in UI paradigm. The
Sidebar ARE toolbars that instead of being placed on the top of the UI are
placed on the side. They ARE toolbars that are making a more efficient use
of the available space. The Sidebar actually is a way of preserving the
actual UI paradigm and even to refine it.

Quite frankly, not improving on the Sidebar concept and adopting it as the
default way of depicting the toolbars is just a waste of potential to
provide an improved workflow to the LibreOffice users. All of this without
having to radically redesign the UI of Libre Office (which is not
necessary) and it would be something that would differentiate LO from M$
Office by providing the same sane UI that LO uses but with an even more
efficient way to display the toolbars than the Office 2003 UI paradigm.

If the Sidebar concept is so bad then why is it the default for Impress? If
it brings advantages in the way that it displays formatting options in
Impress, then those same advantages also apply to Writer and Calc.

I would suggest to fully port all the toolbars to the sidebar by creating
more categories on the sidebar even.
And since what matters to 90% of the users of a piece of software is the
default options, when it reaches a satisfactory level of polish adopt it as
the default way of displaying the toolbars in Writer and Calc as it is in

The LibreOffice design team is full of talented and competent contributors.
I am quite sure that if most of you put your minds to it, you could make
the sidebar a stellar improvement to the way of displaying toolbars just as
Daniel Hulse is suggesting.

On Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 7:03 PM, Daniel Hulse <>wrote:

I don't think it's fair to compare the sidebar to a ribbon because they
a different scope. The ribbon takes the place of both menus and
toolbars--which means this same element you use to change the font is used
to cut and paste, insert charts, open dialogues, save the document, and do
pretty much everything. The sidebar has a different scope, and while we
haven't formally defined that, I think we should. A good starting point for
that would be "controls for editing aspects of the document." This would
mean it would take the place of all of the toolbars that have to do with
editing or inserting, along with the styles pane, gallery, and the like. (I
suppose that would exclude the navigator from the sidebar, which might be
reasonable. I see several use-cases involving using using the navigator and
editing at the same time.) This would mean the sidebar would be used to
change the current style, add shapes and lines, bold/underline words etc,
while the menus would still be used for pretty much everything they are
for now. So the goal of the sidebar wouldn't be so much to replace the
but instead to complement them.

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