LibreOffice 6.2 community focus: Design

LibreOffice 6.2 is due to be released at the end of this month, and many communities in the project have been working hard on new features. Today we talk to Heiko Tietze, The Document Foundation’s UX designer, about the upcoming release…

What new feature(s) in LibreOffice 6.2 are you most excited about?

Two years ago, The Document Foundation announced the MUFFIN concept, that is supposed to give users the freedom to change the user interface to what they are familiar with, and to adopt to any usage scenarios. Now, with the upcoming LibreOffice 6.2 release, we finally made this feature available for everyone, not only the brave users who enable experimental features.

We present the “Tabbed” and “Groupedbar” variants in the first stage (View > User Interface in the menu). The Tabbed variant aims to provide a familiar interface for users coming from Microsoft Office. It is supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar. Here’s a quick animation of it in action:

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Meanwhile, the Groupedbar design follows the mantra “Simple by default, powerful when needed” with the basic principle to access “first-level” functions with one click, and second-level functions with a maximum of two clicks.

What has the design community been working on in preparation for this release?

We also made massive changes and improvements to icon themes, in particular Elementary and Karasa Jaga. Here’s Elementary:

Plus, the icons are now shipped as SVG vector graphics. If the rendering is stable and accurate we plan to switch completely in one of the upcoming releases. Read more on the technical background on this blog.

Another great step ahead has been made regarding the personalization feature (Tools > Options) that took ages in the past to show results. Now it brings up the Firefox personas within a second or two. Read more about this here.

Looking further ahead, what else are you planning – or want to achieve – in the community?

We will continue the work on the Notebookbar variants. Some concepts are almost ready for publication. Ideally, users load the Notebookbar variants as an extension. And we are aware that a lot of work has to be done in this regards.

Other than that, we discuss the ideas from the community on a daily basis. Some would be great enhancements; others are probably not suited to an office suite. The evaluation of this input takes some resources. And last but not least, we have many “creaking doors” that might benefit from a redesign: bullets and numbering, outlines, bezier curves, bibliography…

So how can people get involved?

Everybody is welcome to join the design group. Most of us are active on Telegram and you can just lurk around there and listen. But your input on tickets on Bugzilla with keyword needsUXEval is also very welcome. We pick some of those topics and discuss it in the weekly meeting, biweekly either on Wednesday evening (7pm UTC) or Thursday afternoon (1pm UTC).

All information about who we are, how we work, and how to get in contact are provided on the LibreOffice wiki.

Thanks to Heiko and the whole design community for their great work. We’ll be talking to other communities over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on this blog for more…


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