Thoughts about Libre Office design process (part 9 : conclusion)

As a reminder, here is the list of all the articles :

In few words, the main ideas are :

  • the TDF should define a long-term strategy with a roadmap
  • the TDF should define rules to be sure that every part of the roadmap is executed (ie important functionalities are developed on time instead of developers working on non-important functionalities)
  • the TDF should have control over branding
  • the current design team has skills only in graphics, Visual Identity, not in User Experience
  • the current design team lacks some basic professional knowledge and behavior
  • the design process should be handled by a new team with proven skills in UX design
  • the design process should be completely enhanced to become professional, with interactions with others teams (devs, VI, QA, A11y...), use cases, guidelines, iterative process, prototyping, specifics tools and rules to use them, user feed-back and schedules

Consequently, subjects for "easyhacks" or GSoC with GUI should be designed before any work on code. Today, the implicit message is "Come in and code, we'll check UX later". It should be "Come in, help design/prototype and then code".

I know that in FOSS world, there are mantras "release early, release often", and "consider users as testers". But, as LibreOffice  has millions of users, it's not possible : LibreOffice must provide rock-solid and perfectly designed functionalities from scratch, from the '.0' release.

Even if it is a strong criticism of the actual design process, it is also a constructive criticism, with proposals. And as I am pragmatic, I'm currently working on some ideas for Impress with these methods and tools. It started as a question on the ux-advise mailing-list ( And I expect to have good results. Everything will be on the ux-advise mailing-list.

I hope TDF will hear my feed-back and provide an appropriate answer to that urgent problem. The future of LibreOffice depends on it.

If nothing is done about the design process, as a domino effect, all other parts of LibreOffice will have problems, and I really feel sorry for developers, translators, testers and users.

Addendum : As a proof of my fears, there is the last version of ColorPicker ( and : while looking interesting, some parts show that nothing has been learned from the TemplateManager or previous ColorPicker :

  • what about use cases ? (the mockup is described as "explains everything" !)
  • will it be ok for all parts of LO ? Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Preferences...
  • they expect "themes", but is it really a planned feature ?
  • they expect to have "live preview" of colors : no one dev confirmed it is easy to implement (and it'll be completely inconsistent with all other popups)
  • they expect to work with "mm" instead of "px", ie with resolution-independant-widgets : again, is VCL able to handle that ?
  • what about accessibility ?
  • did they prototype that proposal ? will users guess the workflow ? Will users understand the buttons ? Is it ok to have the "custom color view" in the popover ? or in a real dialog  or in a floating window ?
  • it was still designed drawn by just 3 to 6 people, without any other feed-back
  • Mirek just proposed some big changes, just 1 week before the theoretical deadline (, a usual "best practice" of the current design team...
  • and so on...

About the template manager, there is some strong feed-back  ( : most of those problems could have been identified with early prototypes. What a waste of time and energy...