Monday, April 28, 2008

Quarterly review process for Calc has been started

Niklas announced the start of the quarterly review process (2008 Q2 ) for OOo Calc today. Please find a list of issues for discussion here.

Please participate and add issues you think that they are important for Calc. The wanted issues are not only usability related, so bugs and requests for enhancement are welcomed too.

The list will be discussed in an IRC meeting taking place on Monday, May 5th.

Best regards,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's all about people

Hi everybody,

a few weeks ago Frank announced my participation in the UX project in terms of the co-leadership. I think it is time to shed some light on my motivation, my personal wishes concerning the future of the project and – finally – me.

Explaining my motivation for usability is easy: „It's all about people“. Some examples? I'm tired of seeing students investing more time in formatting their thesis instead of working on the content. I want my girlfriend to be able to create stunning presentations to present her scientific research results. I'm happy when my mother can work flawlessly with spreadsheets at home, originally created with „the big competitor's“ office suite at work. And finally, I want people to enjoy working with instead of telling me that it feels like crap - without looking at the great capabilities it offers ... I presume you got the point.

At the moment, my motivation is even more boosted by the impressions I got at the CHI 2008 last week. There, I had the chance to get in touch with many people from industry, research and the open-source software world. It may sound a bit strange, but there I have seen, heard and felt the spirit of “User Experience” - and it still surrounds me.

Concerning our project, I wish that you can share my excitement for the ongoing efforts. But I also have to admit that some things have to be improved if we want to have substantial impact. Some weeks ago, people took part in some great discussions how to improve the visibility of our activities, the cooperation within the projects and other community efforts and to lower the hurdles for new contributors. I just want to point out that these arguments are not forgotten and we (Frank and I) are working on some first proposals to be presented soon.

Besides that, I would like to finalize my personal understanding of the co-lead role: I'm now enjoying to be the human spam filter for our mailing lists. Sounds challenging, hey? ;-)

Challenge is a good key point, because you might wonder what I do during the daylight hours. I earn a crust as an interaction designer in the advance development of a rather large company. Although we work on „real-world physical objects“ instead of software user interfaces, it's still people we want to be able to achieve great things.

You might also ask why I'm interested in About 14 years ago I bought my first products from the company StarDivision. My favorite application in those days was StarDraw 2.0 for DOS. Some time later StarOffice 3.0 was the only viable business suite for my operating system of choice, IBM OS/2. Since then, StarOffice and later were my preferred software on Microsoft Windows or different flavors of Linux. Maybe this knowledge will be useful for our discussions.

Back to the now. I didn't have the chance to say thank you. First to Frank who offered me the role of the co-lead, and of course to the people who supported me with their compliments. And finally, to all the people who spend their time to improve and therefore believe in it's future.

Do you get tired? Maybe I should consider to come to an end, because I'd like to spare some text for later blog posts. So if there are any questions left or if you have personal comments, then please feel free to discuss this blog entry or just drop me an email! Anyway, I'm glad to be part of the UX community and to work with you!

Thanks for reading (or printing) :-)


New Default Bullets for OOo 3.0 Writer - Update

I have adjusted the previously proposed new bullets behavior based on feedback I got so far:

We will use the following bullets for our default bullet list in Writer:
Level 1: 2022 (small bullet)
Level 2: 25E6 (small outlined bullet)
Level 3: 25AA (small square)
Optional via dialog only: [Level 4: 25AB (small outlined square)]

These symbols are used from the font assigned to the paragraph. If this font does not contain a bullet, the font substitution uses OpenSymbol font as fallback. Therefore these bullets will be added to the OpenSymbol font.

The 'Bullets' character style is still assigned to the bullets, but the style is initally empty. This allows the bullet to grow with the font size of the paragraph.

Please track issue 63395 for details about the implementation for OOo 3.0.

Thanks for the feedback!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Hello OOO Community!

As a new member of the OpenOffice/Star Office User Experience Team at Sun I want to introduce myself to the community. My name is Andreas Bartel, I am 29 years old and I joined the UX team two weeks ago. I studied Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück (Germany) and at the University of Linköping (Sweden) focusing on human perception, human-computer interaction and robotics. I am very excited about my new position and I very much look forward to contributing to the UX project and the OOO community.

Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Default Bullets for OOo 3.0 Writer

The currently used default bullets in OOo Writer are too large (Issue 63395). Furthermore the "Bullet" character style assigns a fixed size of 12pt to the bullets. This hinders the bullets to scale with the text size of the paragraph. The following screenshot shows a current default bullet list.

For OOo 3.0 new smaller symbols from the OpenSymbol font are used. The spacing to text is kept unchanged. The bullet size is taken from the paragraph text size so the bullets are growing with the text size.

Feedback welcome!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Calc Usability Improvements in 2.4

We founded a team to improve the usability of Calc last year. First usability improvements made by this team are visible in OOo 2.3. The new OOo 2.4 release now contains even more usability improvements for Calc. This article list those improvements and links to specifications, further articles and videos:

1. Convert text to columns

With this feature CSV data inside cells can be transformed into columns directly. It uses the already existing Text import dialog and transforms CSV data inside cells into multiple columns. Example: A1 holds '1,2,3,4". After using this feature, 1, 2, 3 and 4 are split over cells.

Start this feature with the menu Data>Text to Columns.

Article Issue: 4040 Spec

2. Insertion Mode for Cells

Cells in spreadsheet can be moved, copied, or linked Select one or more columns or rows, or a range of cells, and hold down Alt while moving the selection with the mouse. When the mouse button is released, other cells/columns/rows are moved left or down, to insert the selection. Before this feature, target cells always were overwritten.

Article Issue: 7180 Spec

3. Enhanced Data Input

Enter key returns to the column where the input started, one row below Entering data row wise is made easier. The Enter key works like a carriage return-line feed on a type writer and allows to return to the column where the input started, but just a row below the current row.

Video Issue: 15546 Spec

4. Enhanced Formula Input

Formula input: "+" and "-" can also be used to start Most professional spreadsheet users do use the number pad for inputting data to save time. So it makes sense to allow to enter a formula not just by entering a "=" or hitting the Function button in the Formula tool bar. Therefore "+" and "-" can also be used to start entering a formula. This improves the usability and the speed when creating formulas in a spreadsheet. Furthermore this can be used as a little calculator.

Issue: 20496 Spec

5. Individual zoom level per sheet

Each sheet in a spreadsheet document can now have its own zoom level.

Issue: 24372 Spec

6. Improved AutoFilter Behavior

Choices are clearer grouped and based on result of filtering in other columns The AutoFilter function allows to filter data in a spreadsheet by one criteria per column. This feature allows to run a quick analysis of data. Two things are new: there is a clearer grouping of static filter choices. And if in one column a filter is set, the filters in the other columns only show the options that are available in the visible rows.

Issue: 27745 Spec

7. Improved DataPilot

Manual Sorting It's now possible to rearrange items in a DataPilot field via Drag&Drop or Copy&Paste. The default sorting for new tables is "Ascending", it is changed to "Manual" when items are moved.

Issue: 32307 Spec

Double-click in Datapilot cell provides calculation data of that cell When a cell within the data field is double-clicked, it inserts a new sheet containing a subset of rows from the original data source that constitutes the result data displayed in that cell. For instance, when the data field function is selected to be SUM, then the number that is shown in the data field cell must be identical to the sum of all the data field values in the constituent rows displayed in the inserted sheet.

Issue: 57030 Spec

8. Improved Print Dialog

The Print dialog in Calc makes it easier to choose what part of the spreadsheet has to be printed. The option 'print only selected sheets' is now on that dialog.

Furthermore the 'Sort' option is defaulted to on. This makes it easier to print multiple copies of a document.

Issue: 82071 Spec

9. Improved Print Preview

PageUp and PageDown keys scroll continuously through the print preview. Ctrl + PgUp/PgDn scroll to top of next/previous page.

Issue: 7269