New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

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New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby anjalip222 » Mon May 26, 2008 8:40 am

Hi, I've mentioned the below-mentioned feature in the Issue Tracker. However, I'm also enclosing it here so that the general folks can read it too. The issue no. is 89949. Here is what I wrote:

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Many times I had felt the need to re-adjust OOo's settings under Tools -> Options, for example, my name, credentials, digital signatures, colour combinations, font styles, etc..

It would be nice if OOo offered different user profiles. I can imagine OOo having a Tools menu entry having "Profiles". Clicking it would open a Profiles Manager, where one can add a new profile, edit settings, import information from other profiles, modify existing profiles, etc..

Here, once can add new credentials, personal information, different personal preferences to change the way OOo behaves, etc..

The ability to switch profiles would also be a great enhancement in the authoring of OOo files.

Each personal profile may be password-protected. Additionally, the user can specify at the time of creation, on which OOo application the profile will be activated/available - for example in Writer and Draw, but not in Calc.

The profiles can be switched from a toolbar entry having a pulldown menu with the names of the profiles available under the given app. There should also be a Home Profile with a suitable button. And also there should be a default profile - with OOo's default settings so that the user can revert to it should something go wrong.

One should also be able to Export/Import profiles to/from a location in the hard-drive, removable drive or a network drive, so that the profiles remain very portable.

Stretching the concept further, one can imagine a "ghost" profile. Imagine, I carry all my OOo settings in a password-protected profiles file "MyProfile_1" in my USB Drive. I then log into a different PC, having OOo with different settings than mine. So, I insert the USB stick, open my profile "MyProfile_1" from the host's OOo. But as this profile is a "ghost" profile, the host OOo will temporarily load those settings into memory so that it behaves the way I want it to. However, the profile will NOT be saved in the host PC, that is, after I close OOo and remove my USB stick, the host OOo will not have any traces of my earlier profile. That would certainly enable OOo portability.

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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby AndrewZ » Mon May 26, 2008 3:38 pm

I doubt this is going to be implemented. It adds a lot of complexity while adding little value for a typical user. In other words, it has a low ROI.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby Hagar Delest » Mon May 26, 2008 4:06 pm

First, I thought that also. Why bother with profiles when you can just create a new account on the machine for example.

But thinking about it twice, why not. A kind of profile management à la Firefox. And I agree, it could be helpful for nomad users. I do backup my OOo user profile on a thumbdrive but it's not so easy and you've to backup the original profile on the machine you use for a short while and then restore it (if someone else's machine). So providing a way to import/export and activate a profile may be useful.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby TheGurkha » Mon May 26, 2008 4:14 pm

You can carry OOo (and your profile) with you if you use OOo portable on a USB pendrive. This will allow you to have OOo with your profile on another person's computer, without touching their OOo installation and profile. A partial solution perhaps.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby acknak » Mon May 26, 2008 6:43 pm

Yes, this could be a nice feature, although I can't honestly think of a common scenario where it would be needed.

The idea has been floating around for a while (in some form): Related issues:
Issue 35558: Create profiles that set numerous defaults
Issue 53357: Testtool: Add Profile Selection to Menu
Issue 83600: RFE: Option to select OO.o's user profile for debugger session

Yours looks like a duplicate of 35558; the others seem to be intended for developer use.

I'm a little surprised that OOo doesn't take a command line argument to select a profile, but even without that, it's fairly straightforward to make the (fixed) profile folder a link to one of several alternate profile folders. Change the link--change the profile used.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby anjalip222 » Tue May 27, 2008 5:56 am

Thanks everybody for your valuable feedbacks.

Some of you say that it will be too uncommon a feature that is too complicated to develop. I'm no developer myself, but then, do all 'power' features have to be 'common' in order to have a merit for deployment? I can think of many power features in OOo that common people and myself don't use at all!

See, I think OOo should strive to add as many power features that (at least) have a theoretical merit of functionality. As people come to know of these features, they will be keen to use them too. Also, any helpful but exclusive feature will drive OOo ahead of its competition.

Someone gave the example of Firefox. Well, Firefox, if you remember, has all by itself added newer functionality, new features, new ways of doing things, that has shot it ahead. Now, even IE 7 has managed to copy significantly from Firefox.

Look, when I sought to add my ideas here, I didn't seek sudden deployment of this feature. But I'd be glad if you at least saw merit in the case.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby AndrewZ » Wed May 28, 2008 8:43 pm

anjalip222 wrote:Some of you say that it will be too uncommon a feature that is too complicated to develop. I'm no developer myself, but then, do all 'power' features have to be 'common' in order to have a merit for deployment? I can think of many power features in OOo that common people and myself don't use at all!


As I mentioned, there are two parts: need and cost. I am not sure which power features you are referring to, but the cost for this one appears to be relatively high from a development, QA, and maintenance point of view.

Look, when I sought to add my ideas here, I didn't seek sudden deployment of this feature. But I'd be glad if you at least saw merit in the case.


Sure, and I didn't mean to be discouraging. I just meant to discuss it and provide my humble opinion of a realistic outcome.

Over the years, I myself have filed 39 enhancement and feature requests for OpenOffice.org. Only 1 has been fulfilled, and it was related to the wiki and not the downloadable product.
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Re: New feature request: Enable multiple user profiles

Postby TheGurkha » Fri May 30, 2008 12:12 am

See, I think OOo should strive to add as many power features that (at least) have a theoretical merit of functionality. As people come to know of these features, they will be keen to use them too.


There has to be selectivity though, otherwise you end up with a massive, sprawling product packed with little used features. The issue of size doesn't matter too much in and of itself - hard disks are getting biger and cheaper all the time and more and more people have fast internet connections for downloads. But the code base management and the maintenance and QA time (effort and time to do a single regression grows rapidly with more features because then you have more combinations) and version control and source code documentation and help and translations and ... it just goes on and on - and that's before you throw in the actual coding effort.

(I'm a developer, not for OOo, but I run a development team for a living.)
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