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Criticisms of Open/Libre office and what I'd like a document processor to be like

Posted 11-22-2010 at 05:33 AM by William (Dthdealer)
Updated 11-23-2010 at 03:50 AM by William (Dthdealer)

I've tried to write up my criticisms of Open/Libre office before, but have never found the time. Today I have. and here they are:
  • The suites try to look, feel and operate as similiar to Microsoft Office as possible. This is a big failure. Try a new, streamlined approach that does not drag MS crap with it.
  • The suites have too many features that no one uses. Provide things as plugins instead.
    eg Who has ever used a bibliographal database in their Writer document? Or performed a 'mail merge' in their writer doc?
  • Functionality issues, including:
    • Toolbars that appear and dissapear when you select things such as images
    • Non depth selection, ie an image behind some text will be selected if you click on the text
    • A preferences dialog so complicated and badly organised you need to go through each individual group to find the setting you want
    • When drawing an object, the first side must be click-dragged while the rest don't
  • The suite encourages manual formatting. Most users do not know how and what styles are, so they never use them and stick to manually selecting each title to set its size, face, etc. A real suite should only enable manual formatting temporarily via an option in a menu for circumstances such as a 30-second sign to print out.
  • Every piece of the suite has a splash that seems to get bigger every release. You can't move it out of the way or anything until the program has loaded. AGONY!
  • You cannot delete the default styles and start from scratch creating your own. You just can't - they are hardcoded in.

I've drawn in ASCII/Unicode ( using AEWAN ) what I would like my next word processor to look like ( probably minus the ASCIIness, with more GTKness ).

The document can either be written into via the 'normal' mode which resizes with the window like a text page, or in the print preview mode which acts like a normal word processor's view ( fixed size on a page ). The other tabs are to modify different parts of the document.

Finally, as written on the screenshot, unless specifically enabled temporarily manual formatting is completely disabled.

Regards, William

P.S. If anyone can suggest a better image host, please do.

EDIT: Thanks Tryum for the host suggestion.
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Total Comments 4


  1. Old Comment
    Originally Posted by William (Dthdealer)
    P.S. If anyone can suggest image host, please do.
    Here you go:

    Nice post, and Thank you, for expressing your opinion about that subject
    Posted 11-22-2010 at 07:09 AM by Tryum Tryum is offline
  2. Old Comment
    The main problem with open office is that it was designed to emulate and be compatible with older MS Word programs. The newest MS Word doesn't even look the same and there is a 'ribbon' to provide all the annoying gui buttons.

    As with any open source application, the gui generally remains stagnate with no thought to design or functionality.

    What's needed in the new world of doing things? Perhaps the gui should be redesigned around the formatting style aspect. They even recommend the use of formatting styles; however the interface is entirely useless for it. Additionally, if one is truly going to be productive, perhaps there should be a redesign of how one types in information. Perhaps a hybrid preview window placed above with a multi line input window below to help separate the idea behind 'input' and 'style'.

    For example, the user starts typing text into the input window..

    Some Title

    This tells a lot about the section.

    A list title
    # a point
    .# sub point
    .# something here
    # another topic
    # something else

    But as they are typing, the document auto formats the input in the preview window above.

    The user can then have the option to right click each section in the preview window and force it to another style type. This would also enforce that each section has a named style. Additionally, the user would also be able to change the style of the WHOLE document to a pre defined document style. included in the document style would be letter head formats, page numbering, etc.

    How is this different than typing directly in the document? It reinforces the idea that text is just text and style can come later. It may also prevent people from using the mouse so often and going off track.

    Anyway... Another thing I would like to see is an integrated brainstorm application... maybe it could even be implemented into draw. In this, a user could brainstorm a document and their talking points then export it to a pre arranged word document.

    Anyway, these are just ideas of how I would like a word processor to function. Of course intuitive for one person is going to be insane for another.

    Another thought is that there should be another separate and streamlined application to include document viewing. In this way, you could load up a low resource program to view documents. Much like a pdf reader.
    Posted 11-22-2010 at 03:58 PM by lumak lumak is offline
  3. Old Comment
    First off, thank you for taking the time to write the crticism.
    Secondly, as for your first three points (and sub-points), I agree. The idea of implementing plugins is very good.
    Thirdly, I have to disagree on the manual formatting issue, especially. Having learned word processing on wP5.1 (before MS drove it out of business by questionable means), I still would like to be able to format like I did back in the day, on occasion. Also, if one has ever had to write a university-level research paper or had to work in an office environment, bibliography and mail merge capabilities are very much appreciated.
    Lastly, I strongly agree with your view on the templates! Much improvement will be necessary for LibreOffice to come up to par with the dominant office suite.

    I encourage you to continue to speak out!
    Posted 11-23-2010 at 02:41 AM by hilyard hilyard is offline
  4. Old Comment

    Thankyou to all of those supporting criticism

    A thankyou to all of you who support my criticism of O/Lo.

    Lumak, your idea for the user to concentrate entirely on the text input rather than the styles is very good. I know from experience when you need to get a look-poke-look typer to get their work done, sit them in front of a plain text editor so they don't spend three hours spellchecking bit by bit and formatting ( namely with WordArt ) their document so it looks pretty.

    Hilyard, the manual control would have to remain, for there are many circumstances where a word processor, as you say, will not be used best only with styles. I'd just like them to be hidden by default so new users start using styles instead for most of their documents.

    Also I specifically exampled the bibliographical database feature which AFAIK is used when someone has their biblio in an external database, as I thought that would be rarely used. I also exampled the mail merge feature, for there is no application in the L/Oo suite(s) that has anything to do with email.

    Regards, William
    Posted 11-23-2010 at 04:16 AM by William (Dthdealer) William (Dthdealer) is offline
    Updated 11-23-2010 at 04:17 AM by William (Dthdealer) (Bad tags)


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