zondag 29 september 2013

Escaping from the claws of Microsoft

At the LibreOffice conference in Milan, last week, there was a series of very interesting talks about migrations to LibreOffice. There I listened to someone talking about escaping from the claws of Microsoft.
One would maybe expect such words to from one of the administrations represented, that may not be charmed by the fact that the NSA spies them. Or by a NGO, whose work may be directly affected by the FBI reading their mails and documents. After all, it was Microsoft that first gave the NSA access to its software, and thus to all the work of people and organisations using it..
But no 'escaping from the claws of Microsoft' was expressed by a business man. A large company searching hard for a way to get a bit of his freedom back in choosing office-software and freedom to pay for needs, and not for obligations. Clearly business, NGO's and administrations share more and more interest in quality office software that respects freedom and property.

The LibreOffice conference again showed growth of the number of people and organizations backing the development. Looks as one of thé places to be for business, institutions and people in serving that goal of safety, respect and freedom in software.

maandag 2 september 2013

Sidebar – avoiding it or improve it for using Styles?

Since LibreOffice 4.1 there is the Sidebar as a experimental feature. While devs work on improvements and stabilising for future releases, I mostly avoid that Sidebar :) Meanwhile many people are positive about the nice looking feature... Well indeed it shows nice. And it shows huge...
You may get the feeling here that I'm not so happy with the Sidebar? Indeed! I'll explain why. And of course will try to give a shot about a maybe possible improvement.
Reasons why I'm not too happy is first because it eats space. Double: most of the formatting settings offered are directly available in the formatting toolbar already.
Furthermore, and that's much worse, the nice presentation of all kind of formatting settings, promotes direct formatting. And direct formatting, thus hassling around without using styles, is one of the largest problems when exchanging documents with people that pay for being licensed to use office-software. All this unstructured settings may give problems when working with documents over different programs. (Apart of course from the troublesome way in which Word handles pictures and numbering ;) – but that's a different story.)
 
So for me, two reasons to dislike the Sidebar: for eating space and for promoting bad habits :(
Now, before bringing a suggestion, as a side step, a way in which the Sidebar can bring some sort of fun: when opening the Navigator both apart and in the Sidebar, one with only headings shown and the other with all other content.
With only headings shown, the view in the Navigator (the one left in the screen shot) nicely follows the position in the document.
 
Then for a maybe possible improvement – I try to bring this careful, because ideas are often easily written down, and hard to realise ;)
From my objections with the current implementation, it's clear that I would rather see support for the use of styles. So I mocked up a little version with various style categories shown at the same time. And maybe also something can be done with the presentation of the font, as is the cast in the list Select Style.
And to recover some space, I simply hided the Formatting toolbar. Only the list Apply style deserved a new place on the Standard toolbar.
That's all that there is for now.