[Libreoffice] [UX] LO status bar annoyances

Christoph Noack christoph at dogmatux.com
Tue Nov 30 13:31:44 PST 2010

Hi Thorsten, hi Sebastian, all! :-)

Am Dienstag, den 30.11.2010, 12:00 +0100 schrieb Thorsten Behrens:
> Sebastian Spaeth wrote:
> > Am I the only one finding the current status bar pretty much useless?
> >
> Nope. I hear you, pretty much unconditionally. Adding UX tag &
> Cc-ing my favourite UX homie. :)

I hope you know to whom you sent your mail ;-) But, mmh, since we
finally want to come in touch with some more UX guys, how about adding
the Design mailing list for such issues?

Although I'd like to refer to some of the issues already discussed here,
I feel free to start a new thread - to keep some thoughts in one place.
But what to think about? Well, it seems the discussion is about: the
"document changed" indication, and the status bar in general.


Let's start with the latter ... Sebastian named the thread "LibreOffice
status bar annoyances" and he is somehow right. There are issues
resulting from a very old and a "driven by constraints" design. For
example, the little '*' is mainly caused by the need for a very compact
symbol - here, please think in 480px width.

Some more issues of the current design:
      * The indicators mix information and invisible actions (click,
        double-click for some surprise)
      * Information is shown by hiding it (document changed status,
        document signed status)
      * It misses charm with all its "INSRT", "BLK" and "STD" (And, when
        the block selection has been introduced, the menu has been
        changed to introduce a bit more clutter, sigh.)
      * It looks very dated and cluttered


Concerning the "dated look": The OOo guys reworked the status bar to
remove some of the lines and boxes. Here is some discussion [1], and the
issue [2].

Concerning the weird information representation: Within the discussions
of the "new" zoom slider, I started to add ideas how to rework the
status bar. Today, I would have done it a bit different, but maybe it's
interesting for you to look at antique (3 years old) data :-) [3]

You may notice, that the selection modes thing has been changed, and
that all the items in the status bar got their own visual symbol to
improve the representation. I also added "no outline level" ("Keine
Gliederungsebene") to teach the user what the slot is used for (today,
it is empty). This might have helped to reduce the hazzles one could
read today on the TDF discuss list [4].

Concerning the "view selectors" at the bottom: Some of you might not use
it, but we should be careful to remove something which had been
intentionally added by Microsoft some years ago. I'm sure they did some
serious research ... especially when looking on our totally screwed UI
that hides these options in the "Zoom ..." dialog (a side note: we do
have a view menu).


I read all the comments very carefully and I understand some thoughts
and concerns. However, the constraints / requirements do support Kohei's
solution (if we want to keep the current save toolbar icon approach).

A solution should:
      * just work
      * be unobtrusive (don't catch attention if it isn't required,
        don't waste space)
      * be self-explanatory (if possible)

Concerning the latter, this is impossible with any approach. But to
inform the user, the title bar totally misses any kind of tool tip or
help text that explains its use(fulness).

But the current solution isn't perfect, of course. Current issues:
      * The extended help tip still mentions the '*' for a changed
      * For unsaved documents, the normal tool tip mentions "The
        document has not been modified since the last save." (Small
        issue, may not be changed).
      * The red "!" is indeed a bit strange considering the importance
        of this message.
      * The icon does not communicate any behavioral difference - it is
        just a status information, but looks very similar to the view
        mode buttons etc.
      * The "double-click behavior" is inconsistent to all platforms I
        know of. It may even be problematic for some users ...
        personally, I would remove it.

But how to address the issues you raised? My personal take:
      * Keep the status indicator where it is (in the status bar)
      * If the document is unmodified, add some very subtle document
        shape. Then, there is a reason for showing a tool tip and the
        "What's that?!" effect may be reduced.
      * For the modified document, reduce the "warning" level and -
        maybe - just show a document icon with a yellow star in it. This
        a) is similar to the old '*', and b) is used for to indicate new
        documents on certain platforms.

And, just a small intentional idea - what about adding a bit more value
to this "feature". For example, add the "Document is modified. Saved XXX
minutes ago." time to the tool tip. If things go wrong, people tend to
look at their data files to know how long they have been working on this
document - so discarding any changes might then be safe.

Well, I hope this helped anyhow ... I don't know :-)



[2] http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=108321


[4] http://go.mail-archive.com/O4_kyh7rx0A5Mr-71f6bi_TzM_4=

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