First results from Renaissance project

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First results from Renaissance project

Postby RGB » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:02 pm

The Renaissance project is an attempt to improve OOo user interface. Here you can find the first results. What do you think?
http://blogs.sun.com/GullFOSS/entry/pro ... ew_ui_july

I hate it...

Moderation (Villeroy): I re-merged the this threads about Renaissance and the other against it. This thread is the one where I put the technical statements. The other one titled >"Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition) " is about different opinions and trolling. I pulled some constructive postings over from there as indicated by the subject lines.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby r4zoli » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:38 pm

I played around them, I feel nothing wrong, but it is not the direction I think needs for OOo.
What needs? It is a good question.
I'm not a new user, I accustomed to present UI, for me nearly all changes wrong.
If I can select old UI - new not hurt me, if not, another question.
For the new user it will be better? I don't know.
Who is the target for UI redesign? It is not announced on linked page, or I not found it in project documents.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby lgusaas » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:25 pm

I also dislike this proposed interface. It takes up too much vertical space, limiting the amount of actual workspace especially on my MacBook (1280 x 800 resolution).

Let the Renaissance project know what you think, pro or con, and give any suggestions for improvements. The newsgroup is:
gmane.comp.openoffice.devel.user-experience

Or you can subscribe as mailing list:
discuss-subscribe@ux.openoffice.org
discuss@ux.openoffice.org

To join the project or get info on it:
http://ux.openoffice.org/index.html
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby TheGurkha » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:41 pm

I had a go of the prototype, but didn't like it. Things seem all out of scale, with simple functions taking up a lot of space, like the Line style and width buttons. The ribbon in MS2007 has been universally slated, and yet this seems like a bad copy of it. That can't be good. It's great that new ideas are being explored, but this didn't do it for me.

One of the fastest and simplest interfaces I ever used was in the old DOS-era spreadsheet programs that had 'ring type' menus. The menu options were presented in a horizonal line, and as each of of these was highlighted in turn, the options that would be available to you if the highlighted option was selected were displayed below it in a second horizontal line. If the currently highlighted option were selected the options inthe second line became the new current menu, and so on. Navigation could be done by highlighting with the arrow or the mouse, hitting enter or clicking or by pressing a letter key. Blazingly fast. I wonder if a modern, visual approach using soe of those techniques could be developed?
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby acknak » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:02 am

I'm not at all sure that interface design by committee, or by popular vote, is going to be a productive approach. I'd like to see some testing and evaluation to identify the major problems that people actually run into when using OOo, and then evaluate the proposals against the identified problems. But most of what I see is just one opinion against another, and I'm not convinced that the people making the decisions have any deeper insight than anyone else.

As far as a ribbon-like interface, I have no experience with it, but given the resources that MS has put into coming up with an improvement for the interface of their flagship product, and the testing they must have done on it with real users, I don't see how the ribbon could not be something to at least consider.

I do wonder if key ideas behind the ribbon may be patented. Perhaps it was more important to come up with a distinctive interface that couldn't be copied than it was to come up with an interface that worked best.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby FJCC » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:45 am

I largely agree with acknak's comments. Collecting input on a web page seems like a great way to collect a skewed sample. Input will come mostly from highly technical people and many clearly have an anti-MS bias so violent that their opinion can't be taken seriously. I use MS2007 at work and, though it was annoying at first, I've gotten used to it and don't notice any significant difference in productivity compared to other interfaces I've used. Maybe I'm just one of those MORONS that are referred to so frequently on the Renaissance web page.
It is interesting that hardly anyone mentions specific problems with the current UI or with the ribbon UI of MS2007. The one consistent comment seems to be the amount of vertical space taken up by the new UI. There is a link on the web page to an MS presentation discussing the ribbon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl9kD693ie4&feature=channel. I haven't looked at it yet, but I hope to get a chance soon.
My main question is about the priority given to the UI. Program stability seems more important to me, though maybe the UI project doesn't take resources away from that. Wouldn't it be better never to have to suggest again that a user reset the user profile?
Though I sympathize with the comment that MS must have tested the ribbon extensively, I still remember Coca-Cola trying to introduce New Coke in the US. All their testing didn't save them from that fiasco!
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby RGB » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:16 pm

FJCC wrote:I use MS2007 at work and, though it was annoying at first, I've gotten used to it and don't notice any significant difference in productivity compared to other interfaces I've used.

This raise a good point, I think: is it the user that needs to adapt to the UI or the UI that needs to adapt to the user? I like the second option more.
My main complain is also with space: monitors are getting wider, not taller, and with all those netbooks on the market it is very important to save space. It is time to start thinking on lateral toolbars, extending the dockable concept now at work on stylist and navigator to other tools.
The koffice developers are doing a good job in that sense. Their product is still not very usable beyond really simple documents, but their UI is quite good, IMO.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby r4zoli » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:01 pm

It is time to start thinking on lateral toolbars, extending the dockable concept now at work on stylist and navigator to other tools.

RedOffice, the Chinese version of OOo is a good example.
You can try 4.5 personal (Writer, Calc, Impress) version.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby RoryOF » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:45 pm

RGB wrote:My main complain is also with space: monitors are getting wider, not taller, and with all those netbooks on the market it is very important to save space. It is time to start thinking on lateral toolbars, extending the dockable concept now at work on stylist and navigator to other tools.


The screen used for Ubuntu Netbook Remix is quite good. Designed for a wide screen, on the left is a column of Application groupings, presented as icons "Favorites, Inernet, Graphics etc," and on the right is a column of file folders and locations. In the centre, approximating a 4:3 ratio, is the desktop. Any application maximises to the screen width.

Of course, the chances are that many devout OpenOffice users really don't like wide screens, preferring the classical 4:3 ratio, whicj I prefer for text writing and editing. If I want to watch movies, I put them on the home cinema projector!
Last edited by RoryOF on Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby Hagar Delest » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:23 pm

acknak wrote:I do wonder if key ideas behind the ribbon may be patented.

I think there are some patents, I remember some articles about a protection on the concept.

RGB wrote:This raise a good point, I think: is it the user that needs to adapt to the UI or the UI that needs to adapt to the user?

Good point indeed. I think that users don't really know what they want for an UI, that's why there is no violent discussion about a new interface. Personally, I just adapt to the UI, perhaps because I know I can't do much about it. But even if I could, I'm not sure I would know what I would like. Current UI has its logic so except removing/hiding the items I use the less, I have no idea. Consequently, even if I don't like the ribbon UI (vertical space also), I think that we have to let someone try and show what can be done. Perhaps one day users will say "wow, that's just perfect" and that will be the right UI users were waiting for. Let's have some design by experiment.

RGB wrote:It is time to start thinking on lateral toolbars, extending the dockable concept now at work on stylist and navigator to other tools.

Seems to be the right way indeed, even if I like it for the Stylist and Navigator, I'm not yet used to it for lateral toolbars (I like to see the whole words for the menus and it would take too much space horizontally I guess).

FJCC wrote:My main question is about the priority given to the UI. Program stability seems more important to me, though maybe the UI project doesn't take resources away from that. Wouldn't it be better never to have to suggest again that a user reset the user profile?

So true! But I doubt the Renaissance project takes so much resource. It may be worth letting people trying to find a great UI. Who knows? it could be a revolution, that would be something!
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby RoryOF » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:34 pm

Hagar de l'Est wrote:
RGB wrote:It is time to start thinking on lateral toolbars, extending the dockable concept now at work on stylist and navigator to other tools.

Seems to be the right way indeed, even if I like it for the Stylist and Navigator, I'm not yet used to it for lateral toolbars (I like to see the whole words for the menus and it would take too much space horizontally I guess).


My method of dealing with the Stylist and Navigator was to install a two headed video card on my main machine, and to use a KVM switch to steal the monitor from the server nearby. My main machine has a 21" monitor (4:3 format 1280 x 1024)) and the server monitor is a 17" 1024 x 768 and I park the Stylist and Navigator on that. I use it also if I have to use Adobe Indesign or CorelDraw XIII for a layout, although since I came to OpenOffice I have managed most layouts in it.

It is my server, so I can do as I like!
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby acknak » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:42 pm

FJCC wrote:... Wouldn't it be better never to have to suggest again that a user reset the user profile?

Absolutely.

I've been thinking: it would even be a huge help if we had a utility that could help users reset their profile safely and easily and work on all platforms supported by OOo. Some people are just not able to follow even the simple instructions/steps required to do it.

It would be great if OOo included it in the distribution, but that may be politically impossible. ;-)
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby TheGurkha » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:33 pm

This makes interesting reading: Top 10 User Experience Myths.
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OpenOffice Renaissance project

Postby RoryOF » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:51 pm

On the Renaissance project, in their May report, http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/w/images/d/dd/Renaissance-status-2009-05-29.pdf there are some interesting examples of interface proposals, some very oriented towards the wide screens that are so fashionable (booh! hiss! I'm against wide screens!). Worth looking, just to see other possibilities.

If you think about it, one can use OO Writer without most of the toolbar items, so long as one has Navigator and Styles toolboxes available.

Edit: Detail of the 17 May proposals at
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Renaissance/Design_Proposals_for_%E2%80%9CAccessing_Functionality%E2%80%9D#Design_Proposals_Submitted

I've changed the title of my reply to OpenOffice Renaissance project, in the hope that it will help broaden the discussion. If any of the Mods think this a good idea, would they change the thread title?
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby acknak » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:05 pm

TheGurkha wrote:This makes interesting reading: Top 10 User Experience Myths.

Good stuff in there--thanks!
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby Bill » Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:18 pm

deebo wrote:
acknak wrote:Get a grip. How is a petition going to help?
I'm not a big fan of the Renaissance process myself, but I can't see how petitions are going to lead to any improvements. What they're looking for is constructive criticism, or some better proposals. "I hate the ribbon" is not particularly helpful.


Here is a hugely better official proposal from IBM:

http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wik ... sal_by_IBM

I was expecting some comments about it, but there's been nothing in UX mailing list. Or, better, there's been nothing my lurking activity has detected. :)

I definitely don't like the sidebar idea. I recently upgraded to a widescreen monitor and can now have two different applications open side-by-side on one monitor instead of using dual monitors. If OOo claimed more screen width by adding sidebars, I'd have to go back to dual monitors.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby Hagar Delest » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:44 pm

Some interesting details about the goal of the Renaissance project: comments from Mathias Bauer (mba) - Project Lead OpenOffice.org Writer.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby RGB » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:57 am

All of this fuss remember me when kde project unveiled version 4.0: nobody understood what Aaron and the others clearly said in their blogs, nobody noticed the clear advices from developers telling everyone that 4.0 was not intended for general use, that it was "a proof of concepts", the bare roots of a new projects full of good ideas... the flames raised to incredible height then, but now, two years later, the openSUSE users voted to set kde as default for the upcoming openSUSE 11.2.
Yes, there are still trolls that attack kde4, but the common feel changed from rage to love in less than two years.
And everything is now in 4.3.1 was planed before 4.0: there was no change in the project direction.
You see, only time will tell.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby deebo » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:00 am

Bill wrote:I definitely don't like the sidebar idea. I recently upgraded to a widescreen monitor and can now have two different applications open side-by-side on one monitor instead of using dual monitors. If OOo claimed more screen width by adding sidebars, I'd have to go back to dual monitors.


The sidebar would be hideable, I suppose. In fact, there is a handle on its side, just like you had docked the Stylist in OOo 3.1.

IMO, a pop-up sidebar is absolutely more desirable than a pop-up top ribbon on a widescreen display.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby deebo » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:18 am

In that mail, Mathias Bauer wrote:
We should concentrate on which contexts we want to have, which toolbars they should get assigned to, which buttons should be in the toolbars, how the switching between different button sets can be implemented with as less screen space consumption as possible but as understandable and intuitive as possible. And if the result has some similarity with parts of MS's ribbon implementation - so what?


I thought the real Renaissance project's goals had been well explained here:

http://blogs.sun.com/GullFOSS/entry/pro ... 1541920000

by Christoph Noack, who is, I'll repeat it here again, Co-lead of the Renaissance project.

Really, I don't understand why Mathias Bauer, another (long time and respected) Sun employee, has to justify what the Renaissance project is doing, this is to say changing from a Stylist-oriented paradigm to a Task-oriented paradigm.

More people who support the same bad idea with different words doesn't make it a better one.

IMO, it's that change of paradigm the mistake, whatever UI will be chosen.

Edit: I've inserted correct URL to Bauer's original message.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby Bill » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:40 pm

deebo wrote:Really, I don't understand why Mathias Bauer, another (long time and respected) Sun employee, has to justify what the Renaissance project is doing, this is to say changing from a Stylist-oriented paradigm to a Task-oriented paradigm.

More people who support the same bad idea with different words doesn't make it a better one.

IMO, it's that change of paradigm the mistake, whatever UI will be chosen.

What makes the current UI "Stylist-oriented"? I've tried searching for the term and can't find it. AFAIK, the Stylist (aka Styles and Formatting Window) is only one small part of the current UI. It doesn't appear to be functional yet in the prototype, but it's still listed in the menu.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby Bill » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:01 pm

deebo wrote:
Bill wrote:I definitely don't like the sidebar idea. I recently upgraded to a widescreen monitor and can now have two different applications open side-by-side on one monitor instead of using dual monitors. If OOo claimed more screen width by adding sidebars, I'd have to go back to dual monitors.


The sidebar would be hideable, I suppose. In fact, there is a handle on its side, just like you had docked the Stylist in OOo 3.1.

IMO, a pop-up sidebar is absolutely more desirable than a pop-up top ribbon on a widescreen display.

I took another look, and the "sidebars" can also be docked at the top or bottom, but IMO, there's not much point in docking the panels if they're going to be hidden. If they're going to be hidden, I'd just leave them as floating windows. That's what I do now with the Stylist and Navigator. By leaving them as floating windows, I can position them where they won't be in the way.

By the way, the sidebar proposal is part of Project Renaissance which the petition is trying to stop.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby Hagar Delest » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:29 pm

Bill wrote:What makes the current UI "Stylist-oriented"?

I think that he meant "look and feel" (not sure however). But even a nice GUI is not really the final target. The point is to have an efficient way of finding the features. It has been added that it has to be desirable but it's secondary.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby deebo » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:36 am

Bill wrote:I took another look, and the "sidebars" can also be docked at the top or bottom, but IMO, there's not much point in docking the panels if they're going to be hidden. If they're going to be hidden, I'd just leave them as floating windows. That's what I do now with the Stylist and Navigator. By leaving them as floating windows, I can position them where they won't be in the way.


There will be a huge point in docking panels in future versions of OOo. In fact, there will be live previews of applied styles and formatting in your documents. With extending pop up call-outs like those included into the present OOo prototype, the document working area may be covered from GUI elements and the live previews would be simply useless, because in many cases you couldn't see a relevant part of your document to which the style/formatting has to be applied. This is more or less true according to your display dimensions and document zoom.

Example:

See this star:
oooimage1.jpg

and how it is hidden from GUI elements:
oooimage2.jpg

while we have wonderful live previews in other positions of the object:
ooolivepreview.jpg

This is just an example. It can be reproduced in many other ways and situations during a normal work session.

Is this UI approach an "improvement" for my work? Uhm... let me think... No! It even spoils the usefulness of new exiting features.

Yes, floating windows are handy, but they have to be moved around your working area all the time.

Instead, with a docked sidebar, the whole document would be shifted to the left or right or top or bottom and the large majority of the pop ups (fonts, colors, border style, etc) would appear over the sidebar itself, without limiting your view of the working area.

Bill wrote: By the way, the sidebar proposal is part of Project Renaissance which the petition is trying to stop.


Indeed, I consider the petition a "mean of pressure". You ask 100 to get 50. I hope you understand my point of view.

About the Stylist: now it has an icon on the main toolbar, even a newbie can see it. In the prototypes, it's hidden in the menus. Hidden UI items are also less used by the majority of users. And less used options are usually less developed in new software applications or even abandoned.

I think it's a contradiction Renaissance developers state that they want to disclose more advanced feature thanks to the new UI, while they really hide the Stylist. That feature tied to live previews would be an extremely powerful tool both for new and experienced users. Of course, if you don't know it exists (by mean of a little icon on the main toolbar), it's difficult to use it.

Please, let me make a simile. A "task-oriented" Ribbon-like bar or application is like building an house by using bricks without a project. It's easy and fast, but the overall result may be a bit botched and surely difficult to be modified.

A "Stylist-oriented" toolbar or application is like building an house by having the project in your hands: you can change details, re-use them in other houses, insert parts from other projects and so on.

According to you, which approach should we prefer in order to have a UI that "produces" more skilled users and more professional documents in less time?

I think it's obvious it's the latter one.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby RoryOF » Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:03 pm

@Deebo: Thank you for making a reasoned contribution to a discussion!

No matter which interface one uses something on screen will always be blocked. One solution, which ?I use regularly, is to use a two output display card. On the main output I keep my large monitor, which holds the main working area. I keep my Stylist and Navigator etc on the smaller secondary screen. This secondary screen can (for example) be an old monitor of relatively poor quality, as it only referred to incidentally. It might be nice to be able to pull the toolbars onto the cmputer desktop, as we can with te Stylist and Navigator. Then they could be placed on the secondary display, leaving as much of the main screen as possible for the work in progress, which is, after all, the main purpose of the program.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby deebo » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:38 pm

RoryOF wrote:@Deebo: Thank you for making a reasoned contribution to a discussion!


If you like reasoned contributions to this Ribbon vs Flat toolbar vs vertical sidebar discussion, please read this message:

http://ux.openoffice.org/servlets/ReadM ... &msgNo=891

It's very long, but extremely detailed. Johannes Eva's arguments in favor of a vertical sidebar are wonderfully explained and understandable from common users too (the example of the oven is a UI masterpiece :)
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby acknak » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:00 pm

deebo wrote:If you like reasoned contributions to this Ribbon vs Flat toolbar vs vertical sidebar discussion, please read this message...

Isn't "reasoned contribution" just a fancy name for "some guy's opinion"?
Does this fellow have any special training or experience that makes his opinion more valuable or reliable than yours or mine?
How can I objectively determine whether his opinion is right/wrong/better/worse than any other?

The best I can say is "that does/doesn't make sense to me", but then, that's just another opinion.

Design by committee (or mob) discussion/argument/petition seems unlikely to lead to any particularly good outcome... in my opinion. ;-)
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby Bill » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:25 pm

deebo wrote:There will be a huge point in docking panels in future versions of OOo. In fact, there will be live previews of applied styles and formatting in your documents. With extending pop up call-outs like those included into the present OOo prototype, the document working area may be covered from GUI elements and the live previews would be simply useless, because in many cases you couldn't see a relevant part of your document to which the style/formatting has to be applied. This is more or less true according to your display dimensions and document zoom.

Example:

See this star:

Image

and how it is hidden from GUI elements:

Image

while we have wonderful live previews in other positions of the object:

Image

This is just an example. It can be reproduced in many other ways and situations during a normal work session.

Is this UI approach an "improvement" for my work? Uhm... let me think... No! It even spoils the usefulness of new exiting features.

Your example is based on a not-fully-functional prototype, not a final product. I don't know how OOo would work around this, but in Office 2007, the GUI elements can be resized if they cover a relevant part of the document.

deebo wrote:Yes, floating windows are handy, but they have to be moved around your working area all the time.

When I do use the Navigator or Stylist, they're outside my working window. They don't cover the working document.

deebo wrote:About the Stylist: now it has an icon on the main toolbar, even a newbie can see it. In the prototypes, it's hidden in the menus. Hidden UI items are also less used by the majority of users. And less used options are usually less developed in new software applications or even abandoned.

I think it's a contradiction Renaissance developers state that they want to disclose more advanced feature thanks to the new UI, while they really hide the Stylist. That feature tied to live previews would be an extremely powerful tool both for new and experienced users. Of course, if you don't know it exists (by mean of a little icon on the main toolbar), it's difficult to use it.

Please, let me make a simile. A "task-oriented" Ribbon-like bar or application is like building an house by using bricks without a project. It's easy and fast, but the overall result may be a bit botched and surely difficult to be modified.

A "Stylist-oriented" toolbar or application is like building an house by having the project in your hands: you can change details, re-use them in other houses, insert parts from other projects and so on.

According to you, which approach should we prefer in order to have a UI that "produces" more skilled users and more professional documents in less time?

I think it's obvious it's the latter one.

I don't understand. Why would a "task-oriented" Ribbon-like bar or app produce results difficult to modify? The result from using a "task-oriented" Ribbon-like bar should be exactly the same as the result from using a "Stylist-oriented" bar. The difference is the path taken, not the destination. Are you implying that the "task-oriented" bar results in direct formatting while a "Stylist-oriented" bar results in formatting using styles? Either UI should be able to produce either type of formatting. It's up to the user to determine whether to use styles or direct formatting.
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Re: Stop OpenOffice Renaissance project (petition)

Postby deebo » Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:27 am

acknak wrote:
deebo wrote:If you like reasoned contributions to this Ribbon vs Flat toolbar vs vertical sidebar discussion, please read this message...

Isn't "reasoned contribution" just a fancy name for "some guy's opinion"?
Does this fellow have any special training or experience that makes his opinion more valuable or reliable than yours or mine?
How can I objectively determine whether his opinion is right/wrong/better/worse than any other?

The best I can say is "that does/doesn't make sense to me", but then, that's just another opinion.

Design by committee (or mob) discussion/argument/petition seems unlikely to lead to any particularly good outcome... in my opinion. ;-)


Well, so far we have Sun UI experts who have chosen a horizontal Ribbon-like bar while IBM UI Experts have chosen a vertical (Ribbon-like) bar. Both are professional and I hope they have enough experience in their field of expertise.

Unfortunately, both groups haven't provided public usability data analysis or decision making process.

So, I fear you're right, we're still discussing about opinions.

Nevertheless, I like more Johannes Eva's one. It seems more rational to me.
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Re: First results from Renaissance project

Postby Hagar Delest » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:51 pm

Bill wrote:The thread shouldn't be closed, but your introduction of the petition into the thread has been disruptive to discussion of the subject of this thread which is Renaissance, not the petition you support. There was already a thread for discussion of the petition. One of your other posts had already been merged with that thread. IMO, your introduction of the petition into this thread is just spam advertising the petition and should also have been moved to the other thread.

I agree. I had already cleaned this topic once so I intend to do it in few hours this evening again. I'll leave a post to the petition so that it's not taken as censorship toward those who are against and that's all. All the other posts about the petition will be merged in the petition topic.
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