Unified ODF Icons - Project Home Page

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This home page for the ODF icon project is a work space for the i-team. It won't contain all information related to this project, in particular it won't include the actual icons or the feature specification. Instead, it is meant as an exchange for background information, supplemental stuff, etc. See section Links for references to further information.

Motivation & Goal

End users hardly ever know they use ODF. Usually this is not much of a problem, as we don't want end users to care about technical details of their IT. But in case of ODF there is a significant difference. Similar to consumers requesting the support of certain media formats, like MP3, or JPEG, we want users to understand that they are using ODF. Or think of PDF - hardly any user knows what PDF is, but most are aware that it allows them to communicate information in a predictable and rich manner.

In a similar fashion, we want users to become aware of ODF, and the fact that they use it day in and out. And we want users to understand ODF as something universal, the lingua franca of richly formatted documents.

For this, ODF needs to meet users where they deal with it most of the time: on their desktops. Similarly important: the new approach needs to be supported by as many ODF based applications as possible. Otherwise ODF may be perceived as something that is specific to a single vendor or even a single application. That's why the new design needs to be vendor and product brand neutral, and at the same time strong on it's own.

The i-Team

Role Name E-Mail Address
Product Management Lutz Hoeger lutz.hoeger@sun.com
Program Management Martin Hollmichel martin.hollmichel@sun.com
Design Stella Schulze sts@openoffice.org
Development Mikhail Voitenko mav@openoffice.org
Quality Assurance Thorsten Martens, Olaf Felka tm@openoffice.org, of@openoffice.org
Documentation Uwe Fischer ufi@openoffice.org
User Experience <First Name, Last Name> <User@openoffice.org>

Technical Background

Learnings from integrating icons into SO9.2

  • The default file type registration, i.e. the list of file types that are associated with OOo during installation by default, needs to adapt to the new icon set. Also, the list needs to be unified across all supported platforms; see list of system file types for details.
  • Windows Vista's behavior for manually created file type associations is ... surprising.
    • For any file type, there can be several "suggested" apps to deal with it. In addition, there can be one default app.
    • If a user assigns a file type to e.g. Writer by picking Writer as one of the "suggested app icons" on top of the list, we can control which icon gets displayed later.
    • If a user assigns a file type to e.g. Writer by browsing for the executable, Windows creates a blank document-like icon with a small app icon centered on it - even if the executable was amongst the suggested apps.
  • The list of "known" file types for the internal file open dialog (i.e. not the underlying desktop file open dialog) needs to be cleaned up and changed according to this list. Further it needs to be aligned with the unified version of list of system file types.
  • We need to develop a similar concept for thumbnail previews, as shown on Windows Vista and above, or on MacOS (any other platforms?); But this requires a different approach - both technically and from a design perspective. So we push this out to round 2.
    • We won't modify the actual thumbnails, as they are specified in the ODF spec, and there is already an existing "legacy" of documents with such thumbnails.
    • Instead, we probably will modify the Windows shell handler, responsible for providing preview thumbnails to the Windows Explorer. This may be done in a similar way as we today draw page borders around our otherwise borderless thumbnails
    • An idea might be to put a WMF layer on top of the existing thumbnails and forward this to the OS
    • Problem is, that ODF previews always come "boxed" in a square box (in addition to the page border). From a design perspective, this is anything else than desirable. Other apps seem to be able to provide "unsquared" thumbnails to the system.
  • Windows (Vista) offers a variety of ways to display a folder. Amongst them the most relevant for us seem to be
    • Icons vs. Previews (exception: at 16x16 pixel size, Windows always uses the icon)
    • Previews with App Icon overlay (lower right) vs. pure Previews
  • In Windows Vista, the folder "My Documents" opens in Details view by default (=16x16 pixel icons)

Related OOo Projects

Coordination with other OOo projects (marketing, artwork, ...) (open, any volunteers?)

Other ODF Applications

Engagement with other members of the ODF application family (open, any volunteers?)

Open and Answered Issues

Issue Response
No UX involved (Bernhard, Sep 21) Invitation for UX experts to join i-Team (Lutz, Oct 27)
Is it reasonable to reduce the differences between ODF supporting applications? (Bernhard, Sep 21) ODF Interoperability issues will get less over time (Lutz, Sep 22)
Is differentiation between file types still sufficient without colors, especially for 16x16 pixel icons (Bernhard, Sep 21) (André, Sep 22) There is some uncertainty about the actual impact of the icon design onto user's interaction with files. (Lutz, Sep 22)

current re-work design progress (Stella, Sep 30)

The design matured a bit (Lutz, Oct 27)

Why reduce the strength of OpenOffice.org visual design and recognition in favor of ODF? (Bernhard, Sep 21) (Christoph, Sep 22) ODF gives users the freedom to care about their content primarily. This is one of the most important benefits to the user, and actually the most important part of ODF's and OO.o's value proposition: freedom of choice. (Lutz, Sep 22)
Why change such highly visible items so short before UI freeze? (André, Sep 21) The unified ODF icon set will not be integrated into OpenOffice.org 3.2. (Lutz, Oct 5)
Folded corner makes icons a little busy [(templates)] (Lars, Sep 21) I also like the use of the bottom corner fold to represent templates, although it could use a bit more contrast with the other non-template icons for the smaller icon sizes. (Jaron, Sep 24)
Can one of the distinct ODF logos be worked into the images? (Lars, Sep 21) We found the dove unsuitable for small size icons, especially if you want to convey further information, like document type specific graphical elements.

The ODF monogram didn't prove to be easy enough to understand. (Lutz, Sep 23)

The main colors of the ODF logo are not used (orange, …) (Sophie, Sep 21) There seems to be a notion in branding to avoid secondary colors, as they are perceived as weaker than primary colors. (Lutz, Sep 23)
OOo branding vs. ODF branding: not loose what we have take some time to build, the OOo logo (Sophie, Sep 21) .
User's attention is now dragged to the lower part of the startcenter (André, Sep 22) .
In 16x16 pixel icons, ODF isn't promoted as the text “ODF” is missing (André, Sep 22) .
How good is / will be the adoption of the icons in other software projects / products? (Christoph, Sep 22) We are about to start discussions with other projects, but I think it is most important, that the biggest ODF generating project in the world, OpenOffice.org, first accepts the icons. (Lutz, Sep 22)
Have the icons be tested with end-customers concerning their recognizability? .
Why not keep the symbolism/colors given with the new galaxy icon theme? (Sophie, Sep 25) The "colorless" design focuses better on ODF. (Lutz, Sep 23)
What icons will OO.o add to a system to denote non-odf file types? (Drew, Sep 22) see the spec and non-ODF icons (Lutz, Nov 20)
How do users know which application is set as the default application to edit a particular file. (Drew, Sep 22) It is no longer about "Writer", "Calc", etc. It doesn't matter whether the application is called "Writer", "Kword", "Writely", or anything else. All it is about is the document type. (Lutz, Sep 22)

(taken from earlier discussion on discuss@ux and from blog comment section)

To be completed (A/I for Lutz; any support more than welcome)


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