Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brainstorm New Ideas: Document Check


Hi everyone,

although Renaissance keeps me sometimes rather busy, there are still some ideas to make OpenOffice.org more user friendly, making working with it more efficient and reduce potential document issues right from the start. Since we currently lack a common idea handling, I feel free to publish some of the ideas in this blog. Let's start with ... tada ...

Document Check

Idea Summary

The idea is about a "Document Check" functionality which checks the document for typical issues with regard to security, compatibility, content, understandability, graphical design and accessibility. The document check result provides central information on issues which have been found, where they have been found and - if possible - proposals to correct the issues. Usually, the functionality may be called manually by the user, but it may be also executed automatically.

Rationale

Today's documents are created for various purposes and published in different channels. Even with the numerous functions available in OpenOffice.org or being available in extensions, it still requires some experience to make sure that each document can be shared without problems. The following - rather simple - workflow shows the steps required to create or to edit any kind of document. Here, we want to focus on the step "Check".



In this step, prior the document is shared (e.g. printed, uploaded, converted to PDF), experienced users check the document for various issues. For example, a user may search for missing references indicated by the field text "Error: Reference source not found", look up non-embedded graphic files in the menu "Edit - Links...", and check whether there are hidden comments with "View - Comments". In any case, these steps require both experience and effort to look up the different places. What seems missing is a central place to check the documents for common issues prior the document is shared.

Goal: The user is able to simply check the document for common issues. Most of these issues can be resolved with the help of functionality available in OpenOffice.org.

Use Cases
The following use cases are just examples. There are some more on the wiki page...

Use Case: Keep Corporate Identity

John works in a large company which really cares about the visual style of internal and external documents. Thus, the company provides in-depth information how templates, colors and fonts have to be used to ensure high quality corporate identity. But, John finds it difficult to keep all the information in mind, when working on documents. Especially, since his technical documentation or specification documents are based on various sources and content types. Thus, after finishing each document, he executes the Document Check which informs him about potential Corporate Identity issues and also provides some hints to resolve these issues. Usually, everything is just fine.

Use Case: Documents for Everyone

Jane is a very active member in a non-profit organization. Recently, she agreed to take over the work on the internal magazin for the members and other interested people. After finishing the draft, she executes the Document Check which provides useful information on the style of the document. She is told that the document might look better when using less different font types and sizes. Additionally, the readability analysis proposes to use less complex sentence structures. Finally, the Document Check informs her about some color combinations which might make reading very difficult for people with limited eyesight (color blindness) - approx. 7% of men are affected. She didn't know about that, so she jumps to the page with a click and changes the document accordingly.

Draft Mockups

Mockup showing a document without any problems identified...

 Mockup showing critical issues. At least from the company's point-of-view...

Mockup showing one severe issue and other proposals to improve the document...

Proposed Items to be Checked

The proposed items to be checked are ... Okay, that might be less interesting for you. Not??? Then please continue on the wiki page dedicated to "Document Check"...

I hope you enjoyed the blog post. Please tell me what you think about the idea on the wiki page. And - of course - please add your own experience what items should be checked or how this proposal can be further improved.

Personally, I think this capability would be unique for office software and might just rock ;-) At the moment, it's just an idea without developer support...

Bye,
Christoph

3 comments:

Drew said...

After a first read of your blog and the wiki - I think Sara, John, Michael and Jane would find this a real bonus. They may not want to see the option all the time, although John's boss just might make him, but most would be benefited by such a tooling, IMO.

Mirek2 said...

:) Kind of reminds me of Mac Office's compatibility check.
Anyway, really great idea!
It should be integrated with "Save as..." in some way.

Max said...

Great job Christoph, love the idea and presentation of it!