[Libreoffice-ux-advise] [Libreoffice] Suggestion and patch for "Confirmation of save format" dialog

Astron heinzlesspam at googlemail.com
Mon Aug 15 12:34:18 PDT 2011

Hi, again,

sorry, some laptop woes kept me from replying.

So, an answer to Christoph's mail:
> Astron, I feel free to reply in this mail concerning the "Cancel" issue.
> I guess the original design wanted to avoid the following issues:
>      * avoid a too wide dialog (we have no layout manager, so it will
>        become quite large - I just say "Spanish and Netbook" *g*)

Hm. I've tried with Spanish and Russian [1] and I don't see a problem
in either case with a third button, unless it absolutely has to have
the same length as the other two buttons. And that seems to be one of
the rules for visual consistency. In other words, I see your point.
I still think that the Cancel button should be more important than
this rule (especially, given that some systems, eg, Mac OS and Gnome
3, like to hide titlebars and/or close buttons contained therein [2]).

> So, I'm unsure, what should "Cancel" do? By the way, the "Closer" button
> acts as Cancel and goes back to "Save as" - tested this some days ago.

The only software I know that has similar dialogues is the Gimp, it
just sends you back to "Save as," just as the "X" button does in LibO.
And this makes sense, because that way we remind the user that she
still hasn't saved her file.

Now... you are right, "X" currently lets you go back to the "Save as"
dialogue, resetting the value for file format. Pressing Esc in the
same situation will do the same, yet the "Save in ODF Format" button
will appear depressed (for as long as you hold down Esc). Thus, I
originally had the impression that pressing Esc would also mean saving
as ODF. Now, I see that's not true – quite confusing.

> Since I'm a UX guy, I sometimes try to step back ... and I noticed that
> this issue could be solved differently if we had "non-modal
> messages" [1]. Without a good reason, it is not much fun to break the
> user's his workflow. So my proposal is to go ahead as soon as
> possible ... and discuss such non-modal dialogs we need (and miss) quite
> frequently. In our case, it could be saving to WhatEver format and then
> telling him afterwards (for a few seconds) that ODF might have been the
> better format.

Seems like a good idea, although it would make it harder to implement
showing which features aren't supported in the target file format
(because lists would look odd in a floating bar – maybe the message
tray from the wiki page you linked to could help there, though).
A more serious problem, though, would be if the whole "Save as"
process were triggered by the user wanting to close the application.
In that case, the current modal dialogue would probably still be

> Josh, a big thank you! :-)

Christoph's right: Thank you!

On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM, Josh Heidenreich
<josh.sickmate at gmail.com> wrote:
> Really, I think we should all remember two things:
> 1. The best way to "fix" this dialog is to have the filters do a
> better job of saving in other formats. If it only came up for formats
> which actually destroyed formatting, like TXT, wouldn't that be great?

Yes, would be great, but I don't think we'll see this in reality,
partly because office document formats still change all the time.
Sorry for the pessimism.

> 2. This shouldn't be seen as an attack on developers of other
> projects, but there have been recent large changes in the Open
> Source/Free Software world, in regards to UI design (and also in
> propriety software), which have brought a lot of complaints for no
> reason.

Only by experimentation with new ideas will there ever be innovation,
so it is not change for no reason in my opinion.

> I'm not
> going to point the finger or anything

Well, you are quite specific. :) Of course, you are right, many of
these new interfaces will at least for some time decrease productivity
of experienced users. And some interfaces are not quite ready for
productive use, even though they've been released already.
Gnome 3 bites me time and time again with its window switching
mechanism and the fact that I could do more and do it faster with
Gnome Do two years ago than with Gnome Shell today. On the other hand,
the utility of the "hot corner", the always-empty desktop and the
clean interface are pretty cool.
Microsoft Office has become much more beginner-friendly with 2007, at
the expense of scaring off some long-time users. I've read somewhere
(sorry, can't give a source) that the ribbon actually makes people a
bit slower even long-term. Maybe, that is not what we might want,

> while non-modal may seem like the best thing from a UI design
> perspective, if it's not what users are expecting, it's still no good.

What leads you to the impression that (most) users hate floating bars?
Also, this is not a new concept at all, I think the first time I saw
it was in IE6, so it's been there for ten years.


[1] Though there is something weird going in with the placement of the
buttons in both locales, especially visual with the Russian locale:
the buttons aren't aligned to the left side of text anymore and are
positioned slightly left of it, under the icon.
[2] I'm not saying that is a good thing. I think it is actually a UI regression.

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