Thursday, June 19, 2008

Improving the Usability: The new Extension Manager as an Example

I would like to introduce the new GUI of the Extension Manager.
The aim of this refining was to ease the use of this tool and giving it an appealing look.

The problem:
This dialog has formerly been rather overcrowded with all functions available at the same time and thus difficult to understand how to use.
The user was forced to consider too many steps before getting results, while beeing in the context of extensions which at that days were not in common use for every user.

The solution:
Which buttons need to be available all the time and which are only relevant for a selected extension? According that assignment the buttons got arranged and their visibility reduced, so that the user has certain functions only available if needed. That should help to keep the user's focus on the work flow.
We also reduced the number of further dialogs coming up on top of the Extension Manager at certain actions by integrating it within the UI.
Well, not many ways exist to arrange an appropriate UI for the purpose of handling extensions, the result shows similarity in the style of the well known Firefox.

Here are some pictures showing the old and new Extension Manager:

The old UI

The new UI: Adding an extension

The new UI: After adding an extension


Mirek2 said...

I'm guessing there was inspiration from Firefox?
Good job, though, I'm glad. Although I do think there are bigger fish to fry (like the lack of a color picker or the overly complicated "Options" dialog, etc, etc.), thing like these are always a welcome change.

Anonymous said...

Very good job! I think Firefox has, today, the best extension manager available. Actually, yesterday I wrote in the wiki about making the extension manager more "Firefox like" (I haven't seen this post yet)! If you allow me to make a suggestion, this new OOo Extension Manager should include a search box to allow users to install them direct from OOo, like Firefox 3's.

Best regards!

Mateusz Zasuwik said...


Bettina Haberer said...

Thank you very much for your positive comments and especially the suggestions and created mockups about the new Extension Manager GUI.

Best regards,


JZA said...

ok I dont think this is a great idea at all. I have complained about the Firefox's extension gui for a while to see it replicate in OOo.

We could innovate so much on this aspect over firefox to do a copy paste of their lazy interface.

Example: Why do we have just a URL to go to the extension repository?

Couldn't we retrieve the headers of the repository and select which one we want installed?

Comparing this feature to the firefox one is not a good idea. I will rather compare it to the KDE one.

Why? Simple, because we can interact better withth the and people can have instant visualization of what's going on there.

It also bring an open platform for more extensions providers.

Ernie Beal said...

I like it. Should be much easier for our users to understand. Now...on to that ugly new startup screen....make it pretty too!