Thoughts about Libre Office design process (part 1 : the context)

Hi, I wanted to share with you some reflexions and proposals to enhance the design process.

As it's a rather long post, I've split it in several parts :

It is based on :

  • reading email from ux-design  and ux-advice lists
  • my participation in irc chats for the last weeks,

and about 3 subjects : the template manager, the new color picker and LO4 branding.

Template Manager

On December 13th, there were discussions on ux-advice about folder management.

In irc, we had long discussions about folder management, template visualization, UI layout of dialog.

Then Cedric also asked a question about handling of default template ( and I answered with another question (, but had no response.

It's amazing that all those events are just weeks (or just days) from the final release !

All this clearly shows that design process is not strong enough : when developers start coding, there are parts of design that remain undefined. That's very annoying because it delays development and QA, it wastes developers' time. And coding with hard deadline is not the best context.

The new color picker (work on december 2012)

After several discussions, the design team created a mockup (

In irc, there still were some questions remaining :

  • how to draw the category list (the left column) ? with a custom highlight color  ?
  • Is the height completely dynamic ? What kind of scrollbars ?
  • Isn't it too wide ? replace the left column by a popup ?

So I proposed to create some prototypes to test different solutions (

And while creating that, I had some questions :

  • What is the state of the picker when opening ?
  • How does it show the initial color ?
  • does it need to always show the initial color ?
  • When is the color picker closed ?

In the next irc chat, the question "when is the color picker closed ?" got a surprising answer : the color picker supposes that there is live preview.

I immediately said to Mirek that the design team should ask devs if that is technically possible ; he asked on 01-01-2013 (

This is very important because a negative answer will obsolete the current mockup. And the design team will have to create a new mockup.

This clearly shows that my small prototype allowed to identify early a big potential problem.

LO4 Branding

The definition of new 'About', 'Splash' and 'Start enter' images for LO4.0.

A few weeks before final release, a contest was started to collect proposals.

The most important problem was that most of those proposals were not following guideline. And some people complained about lack or space for creativity (

Mirek answered that the subject of the contest was not precise enough and that a complete branding was not in scope (

And after a vote (during irc ?) Mirek announced the winner (

And it was the start of another rough discussion. Charles and Italo voiced that the chosen proposal was not ok ( and And another poll was started, with the deadline above the 4.0.0 release date. That poll was also created with a very bad tool : voting through the mailing list. Finally, the poll was moved to a googledoc spreadsheet.