LibreOffice community focus: Documentation

Earlier this month we talked to the localisation community about the preparations they are making for LibreOffice 6.0, which is due to be released in late January (or early February). Now we turn to the documentation project, and Olivier Hallot, who is coordinating updates to guidebooks and a new help system…

olivier_hallot_07062010_964x1036What has the documentation community been working on in preparation for LibreOffice 6.0?

The community is engaged in delivering two major features for the 6.0 release: the first is a new and updated Getting Started Guide, a book targeted at new users of LibreOffice 6.0. We included the latest developments that are in the scope of an introductory text for LibreOffice 6.0. For 2018 we are assembling a team of writers to update our other guides, starting with the Calc Guide.

The other major feature is the new LibreOffice help system, a completely redesigned help system that now uses the operating system’s web browser to display help pages. Here’s a screenshot from the LibreOffice 6.0 release notes, showing how it looks in a mobile web browser:

What are your favourite new features in this release?

I always appreciate applications that have beautiful aesthetics. When choosing between two applications or desktop environments with the same features, I take the one that’s good-looking and has a well-crafted user interface. There are so many excellent programs with clumsy interfaces or ugly aesthetics struggling to survive. It is purely subjective but in the end, beauty pays. So my take for 6.0 are the features that bring a better and nicer UI: new icons, toolbars and redesigned dialogs. Here’s a preview of the Elementary icon set, which will be included in 6.0:

Aesthetics, together with essential technology evolutions, were the drive to develop our new help system based on web technology. We expect to open an avenue for improving the contents of our help with multimedia, animations and better navigation – altogether bringing a modern web experience for our users who are reading the help.

What tools and services do you use in the documentation community?

At the moment we use Plone as our document repository, and we have a workflow for editing, revision and publication. Released documents are available on our documentation website for download, and some l10n (localisation) communities prefer to use the TDF wiki.

With the recent developments in LibreOffice Online, I am planning to use it for document editing and production, in a simpler way than using Plone. LibreOffice Online is by far the best online editor for OpenDocument formatted files, and is an essential feature for preserving our current documents and making editing easier.

For 2018, we will work to develop an special online editor for help files, making it easier for occasional contributors to make changes to the content.

Finally, how can people get involved with the documentation community?

The first step is to read this page and follow the instructions there. We need good software documenters, along with people who really know how an office suite works, and who are capable of writing about new features with authority.

Thanks Olivier, and thanks to the whole documentation community for their work in LibreOffice 6.0. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking to other projects, including QA and development – keep checking this blog for updates.

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