User Experience/ToDo/Competitor Software

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The aim of this page is to provide an analysis of useful features from competitor software. Competing software includes:

  • Adobe InDesign CS3
  • Adobe Acrobat Professional
  • Apple iWorks
  • Microsoft Office
  • IBM Lotus Symphony
  • various web-pages
  • specific controls:
    • Adobe Type Manager: group fonts
  • ... please expand

Table Styles

Virtually every table on the net uses the following specific design:


  • header row: a background color is set
  • table-rows:
    • two alternating backgrounds
    • usually NO hard-borders, but usually light borders
  • highlight current row: interactive programs (aka web) implement this feature, too
  • slightly rounded corners: sometimes a pretty cheap but visually pleasing effect

Competitor Software

  • virtually every web table, including the OOo and Mozilla issue-lists use these web-proven designs.
  • Adobe InDesign CS3:


  • Writer: implement such a table style (NO issue yet filed)
  • Calc: implement a Spreadsheet-Table View, see issue 78181
    • including different header style, alternating background for data-rows and highlight current row
  • Impress: highlight current row/ current area, see issue 79882

Styles & Themes

  • iWork: professional looking styles & themes out of the box
  • MS Office 2007: also professional looking styles & themes out of the box
    • Using these two products you have to almost struggle to create ugly documents
    • No confusion caused by multiple simultaneous pragmas (strong manual editing support vs styles based)
    • Themes format styles automatically, which means extremely easy switching of the whole look
  • OOo is very poor on this area!

Side-by-Side Difference between 2 Documents

Many web-programs allow displaying side-by-side differences for 2 text-streams.


  • compute differences between 2 versions of a document (or even 2 completely different documents)
  • choose difference-sensitivity: text-only, other-objects, formats, ...
  • display the 2 pages side-by-side, when issue 1598 gets implemented.

Competitor Software

  • Adobe Acrobat Professional implements this feature
    • it does a great job (including +/- formatting), even though pdf is such a poor format when it comes to page structure
  • various web-programs/diff's: including mediawiki/wikipedia and many more
  • various text-editors
  • the BLAST-program: see the ncbi BLAST page


See issue 81526 for further details.

Context sensitivity

  • Two types of controls (toolbar or anything else): fixed, which always have the same options; and dynamic, which, depending on the current context, shows different options (like Symphony's side-panel)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 introduces a contextual spell checker.

Toolbars and tool dialogs

Inspector (Apple iWork)

Apple's iWork has a concept of "Inspector", which is context sensitive, but with static set of tabs/controls.

It's not a toolbar, but a floating window with tabs. See formatting document movie (Quicktime)

So for example you can select one or more graphical shapes (and tex boxes) and set from the inspector their X/Y position on page or their width and height. Also colors for any object (border/fill) can be changed etc.

Contextual Format Bar (Apple iWork)

If more toolbar-like UI is desired, then there's Contextual Format Bar (Quicktime)

Extension Manager

Firefox 3's extension manager has a search box, so the user can search and install a extension direct for the program. This is very easy to use and very productive.


OOo programs respond slowly compared to MS Office. This includes scrolling, saving, focusing objects such as images and tables (due to changing of the tool bar), opening object settings dialogs, closing dialogs. The slow response times quite frustrate users.

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