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Thanks Rosmaninho.

You're right--this really isn't a new concept. Sidebars like ours are
particularly familiar from graphics editing software like Photoshop and
GIMP. LibreOffice wouldn't be the first office software to use it, either.
Kingsoft Office, the Calligra suite, and iWork all use sidebars. 

Currently, LibreOffice's UI is more-or-less follows the paradigm of Office
2003. This made sense in the past, when Office 2003 was the dominant office
suite, because it benefited users for them to have a near carbon-copy
replacement of the suite they already knew how to use. Now, six years after
Office 2007 arrived with the ribbon, the fundamentals of LibreOffice's
interface still use this paradigm. Things have changed, though, and will
continue to change. The ribbon is widespread and common--it's in nearly all
Microsoft software, and has even made it into other software like AutoCAD.
The traditional dockable-toolbar-base ui is in decline as major software
companies are finding new paradigms to fit their needs.

That being said, I don't think implementing a ribbon is the best idea for
LibreOffice. Many of our existing users use LibreOffice /because/ it doesn't
use a ribbon, and implementing one would likely alienate them. In addition,
ribbons don't work so well in desktop environments with a global menu, like
OSX and Ubuntu. Finally, it would be a bad symbolic gesture and would
probably keep us from ever following the GNOME HIG.

I've identified why the ui paradigm needs to evolve and why we can't use a
ribbon. So, in order to keep LibreOffice relevant, we need to either make up
a totally new ui paradigm or copy an existing one. Making up a new ui
paradigm is both difficult and has a likelihood of being difficult and
contrived, so at least taking inspiration from existing paradigms should be
a given. This leads us back to Kingsoft Office, the Calligra Suite, and
iWork. While the Kingsoft suite oddly uses both a sidebar and a ribbon, both
the Calligra Suite and iWork have fully-functioning user interfaces based
off of a sidebar, a status bar, a single toolbar, and a menu. Thanks to
Lotus Suite's donation of the sidebar, officially implementing an interface
like this right now would be simple. 

Unfortunately, the sidebar in LibreOffice as it is today has some problems
and needed refinements, but implementing it would mark the start of progress
towards an interface defined not by an old piece of Microsoft software, but
by deliberate decisions by the ux and design teams. 


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