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Sean White wrote
Just look at what happened to MSOffice after Ribbon.  Leaving aside the
arguments of
whether it did indeed change things for their better, it undeniably
them dramatically.  This resulted in lots of hate from people that were
force to change their work flow.

That's not the sidebar case: as discussed upper, the idea is provide an
(almost) complete UI aside the existing one, 
potentially avoiding any menu browsing. Potentially.
Don't like the sidebar? It's a click away, close it and will disappear as
never existed.
Don't like classic UI? Close toolbars and use the sidebar.
Ribbon affected users workflow because they had no choice: "Take this and
shut up" - MS said.
We are *not* doing something similar.

Sean White wrote
LibreOffice uses it's own internal toolkit with a custom selection of UI
elements thus any 
massive UI change would require the writing of new UI elements into the
toolkit and 
probably the rewritting of a fair ammount of old ones

No more, not in the upcoming future:
Over 84% of current dialogs have been converted to the new .ui format who
rely on GTK+3 toolkit.
When complete, the plans are (as far as I know):
- convert toolkit used by exstensions
- get rid of hundreds of .rsc files (a .po-like old format used for
- finally port main windows to GTK+3

There isn't an arrival date, but forget LO own toolkit in the future, it
will be no more a limitation for a UI change :)

The good news is that the sidebar is indeed a dialog docked on the side and
already converted to GTK since LO 4.2
A potential developers doesn't need to learn a weird old technology, neither
extending it with new elements.

A sidebar improvement still require time and hard work, but it's notably
simpler now.
Another good reason why this is the right way to finally enhance LO visual

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