Design/Whiteboards/InterfaceImprovement

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These suggestions have been submitted by Phil Jackson. Please add any additional requests that you feel will make the suite easier to use and/or make users more productive.

Topics

Smart Marked Text Handling

The proposal here is to 1) Remove all icons that affect marked text which would simplify the screen and 2) Show a menu of these options once someone has finished marking a block of text with the mouse or keyboard. This menu would appear beside the point where the user finishing marking the block of text. This approach brings the functionality to the user when they want it and hides it when they don't want it.

Optional Tool Bars with Text and Subservient Icons

Here is a link to a paper on Usability of Icons; [1] My proposal is that additional tool bars be provided that sit on the side of the screen and these tool bars would provide textual descriptions of underlying functionality. If icons were shown, there should be a significant space between them and their text so that users can scan the text column without the graphics visually interfering with this process. Ideally these graphics would be on the right as they are mostly attributes and not the main identifier but this might be herectical to some who don't understand the role of graphics.

Automatic Section Numbering

I'm looking for ways of improving this by collecting a list of things that members find frustrating and then formulating some ideas for possible solutions. One idea is to tie a section level to a tab position and this should also allow for setting indent control for subsequent lines. This should be able to be done after the text is entered or before.

One readily apparent way to improve this is to remove a section number when it is left empty after pressing ENTER after a previous section. What happens is that the next line is assumed to be a new section and the next number/letter is allocated. If the user wants to leave a blank line between sections and presses ENTER again then the new section number created on the last line should be moved to the new line.

Marking Start and End of Text Blocks with the Mouse

Suggesting a Right Click menu option to set a Section Start and a Section End. This would then lead to the menu proposed above in Smart Marked Text Handling.

Save File Dialog Improvement

I know that the default OS dialog box is used here but waiting for MS to improve this is not a solution. If a decision was made to do this independently then it should be done on the basis of improving usability and functionality. Suggesting that a user be able to maintain a list of their favourite locations that can be accessed with a single click.

Handling Multiple Pictures

There are already anchor points associated with pictures and right click menu options to doing some control over placement. It is also possible to put pictures inside table cells. I'm looking for some ideas for improving the handling of this particularly when there are multiple pictures - trying to manipulate these can be frustrating. Tables can be a good approach when the arrangement of pictures is uniform but when they are not, it doesn't work.

Idea 1 - leave the placement of pictures completely under the control of the user. Let them decide the placement without imposing system rules. If pictures overlap, then it is obvious to the user. When viewing, overlaps could be shown as a dotted line on top of the uppermost picture to show that there is something underneath it. During printing, hidden sections of partially overlaid pictures would be suppressed.

Installation and User-Level Settings

During installation, allow user to define for each product in the suite, a user ranking such as PowerUser (4), ProfessionalUser (3), ModerateUser (2), BasicUser (1). Each tool bar and menu item or tool bar item will need a ranking number (1-4). Tool Bars and icons and menu items will then only appear for that product if the number is less than or equal to the user's own ranking.

With time they will be able to upgrade or downgrade their ranking. This will make it much easier for lower ranked novice users to get up and running with LibreOffice, without being overwhelmed by unnecessarily overloaded screens.

Also suggest that tool bars for lower ranked users be put at the left-hand side instead of at the top.

Automatic Superscript application

When typing mathematical notation for powers such as 10^2 or 10^(N-1) it would be good if Writer automatically converted the text following the ^ symbol to superscript when the next Space key is pressed. So 10^2 would have the ^ symbol removed and the 2 left in superscript.