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Documentation note.png This page outlines a proposal for a new feature. If you have any questions or proposals, then please send them to the [ux-discuss mailing] list or add your thoughts to the discussion page. Thanks!




As discussed in Workflow Analysis, there are currently a number of modal dialogs which might interrupt the user. These information are given with regard to e.g. wrong paper sizes, transparency or even color gradients. There is a need for a solution which explains the user potential issues without disturbing the print work flow (too much).



Proposed Designs

Proposed Design "Multiple Print Messages"

This design proposal is based on the Idea Collection, "Contextual Information Bar". It combines the basic ideas of the already realized Writer Comments (see Notes2) and the brainstorming idea Direct Manipulation Snippets for Documents.

General Design

The basic idea is to present contextual and non-disruptive messages to the user when the print dialog is opened. An information bar inside the print dialog provides help for common issues - according to the severity of the information.

PrintDialog ContextualInformationBar Structure.png
  • There are two types of messages: "Information" for tips, "Warning" for potential issues which may cause undesired printing output.
  • A message usually consists of (1) a symbol (representing the message type), (2) a message title (summary which is also used to refer to the message) (3) a message text (explaining the issue and - if possible - provide help to overcome the issue) and (4) an action link (referring to an option or further help).
  • The message is contained in an information bar at the top of the print dialog. The dialog is expanded, accordingly. Rationale: This position is used in other programs too and ensures that the user will be aware of the message. And, a minimum of space is required and therefore the full width of the dialog is used.
  • The element (5), the colored background, does also indicate the message type. The element (8), a small shadow, "hovers" the information bar over the rest of the print dialog.
  • The print dialog shows only one message at a time. Rationale: Keep the additional size for the dialog at a minimum. We still have to consider small notebook screens.
  • If multiple messages are present, then these messages can be switched with (6) the previous/next buttons. Rationale: The elements are rather small and
  • Element (7) refers to the drop-down menu to provide access to further options (e.g. closing the message bar). Rationale: This kind of interaction element is (hopefully) already known due to the Writer comments and the toolbar options.

The following mockup shows the information bar in context:

PrintDialog ContextualInformationBar GeneralDesign.png

General Behavior

The user opens the print dialog:

  • If the user opens the print dialog, then the print settings and the document are checked for common print issues.
  • If there are print issues, then the print dialog already shows the information bar (the first message) when the dialog is finally presented to the user.

The user requires further help: Clicking on the action link (4) usually either jumps to the selected setting in the print dialog or opens a new window.

Multiple messages are available, then ...

  • ... they are sorted according to their severity. The most critical message is shown first.
  • ... the user can browse them with the previous/next buttons (6).
  • ... the drop-down menu (via (7)) provides direct access to them.

If the user changes any print(er) setting, then...

  • ... it is checked for print issues and the message list is updated (similar to the initial request to open the dialog). This is always done, even if no message bar is shown at the moment.
  • ... if there are no more messages, then the "message placeholder" will be shown instead. Rationale: Simply removing any message will lead to unwanted "jumping"/resizing of the dialog. Unless explicitely requested by the user, the size of the dialog should stay the same if he alters print options.

The user wants to close one/multiple messages:

  • Usually the user does not require to explicitly close the messages. In very special cases, the place on the screen might be limited, so that the user may require to close the information bar.
  • The drop-down menu (via (7)) provides options to either close the current message or all messages at once.
  • If either all messages closed or the last message is closed manually, then the complete message bar will be removed.

If the user prints directly (e.g. via shortcut or toolbar icon), then ...

  • (Draft Proposal): Default message boxes are used for warning messages. It would be desirable to replace the current "variety" of message boxes. It should be possible to directly connect e.g. Message Type (message dialog type), Message Title (dialog title) etc.
  • (Draft Proposal): No information is given for information only messages.

Special Requirements

  • For LTR, the whole message bar is mirrored vertically.
  • For Accessibility reasons, at least the drop-down menu (7) should be accessible. This is not yet implemented for the Writer Comments, since the default context menu inside the comments does already consider all these options.
  • For Accessibility reasons, a high contrast version of the information bar should be available. Proposal: If this cannot be achieved, then the default message dialogs may be used.

Graphical Design

The graphical design is still open. The current mockups are examples that ... as the name implies ... serve as examples :-) But of course there are some recommendations:

  • Message symbols should consider the Icon Style, e.g. "Galaxy". See Galaxy Style.
  • The colors of the Writer Comments should be used to represent the severity of the messages. See Colors for the Notes.

Open Points

  • If no message bar is shown and the user changes an option which requires to inform him via a message, then the message bar is added to the print dialog. The issue: This may cause unwanted "jumping/resizing" of the dialog. Is it possible to provide a smooth transition / animation? If yes, then this should also apply for removing the message bar from the print dialog.
  • There should be a connection between the former printer warning settings and the currently proposed warnings.

Proposed Design "Single Print Message"

To be done. The single message handling is based on the proposed design "Multiple Print Messages" ... but far easier, since only one message is handled at once.

Proposed Messages


(At least one to serve as an example. More to come soon)

Message Type
Message Title
Paper Size
Message Text
The document specified paper size <documentsize_name> (<???size> mm x <???size> mm) is unavailable. The printer paper size <printersize_name> (<???size> mm x <???size> mm) will be used instead.
Action Link Text
Go to setting...
Action Link Action
Clicking on the action link opens the "printer preferences".
This warning is based on a proposal by PL, see the discussion below.


(At least one to serve as an example. More to come soon...)

Message Type
Message Title
Blank Pages
Message Text
Blank pages have been automatically added to enable page breaks for duplex printing.
Action Link Text
Go to setting...
Action Link Action
Clicking on the action link changes the tab page to "%PRODUCTNAME Writer".
This information is based on a common misunderstanding by users why empty pages are present in the document. Most people do not own a duplex printer, but (currently) the setting cannot be determined automatically. So here it might be better to just inform the user.

Code Changes


Outstanding Issues

  • See discussion page
  • If people print via shortcut, then the print dialog is omitted. What to do?
  • If native dialogs are used, then we miss the flexibility to add this kind of warning.
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