Tuesday February 1st, 2011 by Björn Balazs
In long discussions with Christoph (who was one of the most active UX people in OpenOffice) I always said that I think OpenOffice has no future. I came to this conclusion because I think Free Software will not work if the community is basically not allowed to submit code or to steer the direction of the project, but is degraded to do everything the owner of the project does not want to pay for.
So you can imagine how excited I was about the raise of the truly independent initiative “The Document Foundation”. I had to change my mind concerning the future of what once was StarOffice. We suddenly have a prosperous and truly Free project.
It is a pity that it needed a fork to achieve this. On the other hand forking seems to be some sort of fashionable in office software at the moment, as most of KOffice developers chose to fork the project to Calligra Suite. But mechanisms of Free Software development are hard to understand for some people.
So at the end of last year I had another very interesting and long talk to Christoph, who is now one of the most active UX people in LibreOffice. And I decided I want to join the project and participate in facilitating the User Experience for LibreOffice user. This has some selfish reasons, as I am one of the partially annoyed users myself. But it also has to do with my ambition to create a set of desperately needed Free Software, that is not only usable, but astonishingly good. An office suite definitely is part of this set, as it is one of the most basic tasks people want to do with their computer.
On the other hand: I am a bit scared seeing the size of the project. I joined the ux mailing list, where Christoph told me “you will get one or two mails per day” and I now get more mails per day than I can even count (making it worse: KMail currently has a bug resulting in not filtering incoming mails!). I still wonder how we can get work done with this amount of noise on the list.
To get going, I have decided to keep myself out of a lot of things I do not feel I can contribute to. I am not an artist, so I do not talk about icons and such.
But I was very happy when Cederic asked for some help in redesigning the “Fields Dialogue” in writer. I happily said I will jump in, even though I cannot say I have achieved much so far. But one thing I do understand: This dialogue really needs more than a face lift. It is hard to understand what this dialogue is actually used for.
My personal highlight of this dialogue so far: You can count the amount of words in your document in letters. If you have three words in your document, the field shows you a “C” (you can choose whether you want to have the “C” in lower or uppercase). See what else I will find in there. But things like this don’t make it easy to understand what is actually going on in there – or even how to sustainably improve the dialogue.
Summing it all up:
Hello LibreOffice, I glad you are there and I am happy to join. Let’s have some fun and rock the Office world.