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Hi Narayan, Wheatbix, Houbsi, guys, :-)


I just spent an hour and a half talking to Houbsi on Skype, and it was
a very interesting discussion. Narayan, you and I have also had a
couple of long voice chats. Maybe this is a good time for me to share
some thoughts and ideas about things.

@Houbsi: I understand your ideas for the interface of the LibreOffice
software, and for the site, and I really encourage you
to go forward and explore them with the Design team. Also, talk to
leading people in the l10n area of the project, such as Sophie
Gautier, about the ideas and principles behind localization in the
LibreOffice project.

@Narayan: I understand very well your thoughts and attitudes about
involving that talented graphic designer contact of yours. I also see
the need to someone to work closely with us on graphics and page
presentation. But, this is an OS project, and I don't think it can be
achieved in quite the manner you envision.

We have to remember that developing the site is very
much a cooperative effort between design contributors and content
contributors, and that we need to keep Design in the loop about

@Houbsi & Narayan: I've listened to your ideas about design
approaches, with wireframes, etc, and I understand. Speaking
personally, I don't really agree with your ideas about having a
minimum of content on the pages and most of the
substance on the wiki. But, I definitely encourage you to expand on
your thoughts and ideas on your wiki user pages, and to do modelling
work on the pumbaa sandbox. You can count on me for any help you want
me to give you.

But, for the moment, the website has been developed in a certain
direction, and I'd like to guide it through to a concluded state:
development of the "Why?" pages, the "Features" section and the "About
Us" section.

At that time, LibO will have a decent website to fulfill needs for the
next few months, and those of you with those radically-different,
imaginative, creative visions can develop them at leisure for
presentation to the SC and community. I'll be pleased to contribute in
any way you want me to.

One of the most difficult things in a project like this is
communications. Even with the best will in the world, and even with
the aid of tools like email, wikis, IM and voice chats, ideas often
fail to pass effectively and we don't end up at a general consensus.
Compromise and flexibility is needed from all of us. A great deal of
contributing to an OS project like this lies in understanding and
coming to terms with the project's sociology.

Everyone wants the project to go forward - but often in different directions!

There comes a time when we have to choose one path and then all
contribute to it.

My humble proposal is this: I've played a leading role in *dragging*
the website in one particular direction. It was something that *had*
to be done at that time, IMHO. I'm not saying it's necessarily the
best, but it's already 80% on the road to its destination. I suggest
that we complete that work, so that the site is really in a final v1.0

Then, I suggest that we thoroughly explore all other possible options
via confcalls, wiki writing and modeling on the pumbaa server until we
arrive at a v2.0 SilverStripe website to offer to the SC for approval
- something tangible, backed-up by written presentations and

I know very well that the subject of Drupal is not gone from the minds
of several of you. Therefore, I suggest that, when
v1.0 is at a finalized state, we should request the SC to request
Christian to set-up a Drupal sandbox on the pumbaa server, in parallel
to the SilverStripe sandbox. That way, you could thoroughly explore
your ideas, and could experiment and model, and build properly-working
demos that can be shown to the SC, for consideration, for whatever
applications you imagine.

Personally, I'd see this as a platform for progressively developing
things for a possible mid-term adoption - in 6 to 9 months time - if
the results are judged to have merit and real added-value for the

That's my 2 cents...

But what about the immediate work to be done now?


For the "Why?" pages, I like Wheatbix's idea of concrete usage
examples for each marketing target category, and - speaking my own
view - I feel we should work on that. Me, I want to start by
re-working "Why for Home?" in that direction. But I'd see these as
being quite in-depth pages of maybe 500 words or more each.

For the "Features" section, I see a set of sub-pages for each of the
key apps, providing deeper coverage of key features and
functionalities of that app. For instance, for Writer, styles, would
be one. For Base, we'd need deeper individual coverage of table
design, query design, form design and report design. And so on.

We'd also need coverage of some of the great global functionality of
LibreOffice available in all the apps: macros and templates, for

The "About Us" section (I'm not sure if that is really the best name
for it) needs developing with content and pages about the community
and the governance. Some pages that come to mind, for me, are
"Credits", "LGPL license" and "Community Bylaws" (the latter needs
discussing with the SC first). We also need a page with LibO-related,
user-downloadable graphics, avatars and icons for people to use on
their blogs and sites. Personally, I'd like to see that page directly
on the site, rather than on the wiki. However, that supposes a
thorough validation of the graphics beforehand by Design.

I'm certain that there's other interesting content we can have in the
"About Us" section that I haven't even thought of yet. Ideas needed.

Most of those pages are forcibly going to contain quite a bit of text,
and will need a lot of collaboration with Ivan and Christoph. Houbsi,
as you suggested, maybe we can get Paulo involved with graphic
production, too?

Personally, I don't like the idea of burying content deeper in the IA
than necessary, nor of sending the visitor off the site to the wiki
(except for particular, frequently-updated content). Every additional
click is a risk of losing the surfer's attention. And the wiki is not
a facility designed to market the product, it's an auxiliary
information base and a brain-storming area. Telling your visitors to
go read information there is like a store's staff telling their
customers to go have a root around in the store's stockroom and
basement to see the products, rather than doing the presenting and
selling on the shop floor!

And, speaking personally, I think it's important to have plenty of
written content on the site. Proper coverage of some subjects
necessarily involves a certain amount of writing. If you don't provide
the information, where can people find it? Many companies and products
get a lot of in-depth technical coverage in the printed media and many
other websites on the Internet. So they can afford to have sites that
are light on content and that give mainly a superficial, visual UX,
because the visitor comes to the site with a lot of pre-seeded
knowledge of the product(s).

But LibreOffice cannot count on that. The LibreOffice site is the key
source of knowledge and information about the LibreOffice product and
community. We don't have continual, collateral, reliable media
coverage to educate people about the project. So all the info has to
be there on our site, to enlighten new visitors/users, and to dispell
incorrect perceptions and misinformation.

That's why, in my *humble* opinion, we *do* need a certain amount of
"text, text, text". :-D

However, we really need to get Ivan or other Design team guy closely
involved in working on the presentation of the existing pages and text
(some slight adaptations will undoubtedly be necessary). We need
graphics, and widespread use of the photo-shuffler. If possible, I'd
like Ivan to get actively involved in working on re-presenting many
pages. The "New Features" page is an urgent case.


One other thing I've been agitating for recently is a News section on
the site. This would be a place to publish regular articles, and would
involve close cooperation with Marketing.

We'd need to evaluate a choice between the SilverStripe blogging and
news modules on pumbaa, and then ask Christian to provide it on the
main site.


Ideas, reactions and suggestions?

And how about some volunteers to take on specific work?

David Nelson

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