Feature - Templates

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Templates are very important for any office suite. Here are some ideas how to improve the current situation on OOo.

iTeam Members

Role Name E-mail
Project Lead Jan Holešovsky /Kendy (to be confirmed) mailto:kendy@suse.cz
Specification Owner Mathias Bauer /MBA (proposed volunteer) mailto:mathias.bauer@sun.com
User Experience Garrett Lesage mailto:GLesage@novell.com
Matthias Müller-Prove /MMP mailto:mprove@sun.com
Development Jan Holešovsky /Kendy mailto:kendy@suse.cz
Quality Assurance Thorsten Martens /TM mailto:thorsten.martens@sun.com
Documentation Uwe Fischer /UFI mailto:uwe.fischer@sun.com
Engineering Support Mathias Bauer mailto:mathias.bauer@sun.com
Petr Mládek mailto:pmladek@suse.cz

Menu Access


The current menu entry "File/New/Templates and Documents" is a bit confusing because the other entries below "File/New" starts new blank documents of the given type. The menu "File/Templates" is too hiden and includes the strange "Address Book" entry.

Proposed Solution

  • "File -> New -> Templates and Documents"
    • change to "File -> From Template..."
  • "File -> Templates"
    • move to the same part of the menu as Wizards
    • "Edit.../Save..."
      • don't we want to do this from normal "Open.../Save As..."?
      • templates are saved into another location and structure but...
      • let's solve this later
    • "Address Book Source..."
      • move to "Tools -> Options"?
    • "Organize..."
      • Eh? - see below


Open Template Dialog


We have a create from template wizard for impress, this is a suitable route for creating a word processor document as well. The existing impress dialog is a bit klunky and doesn't by default contain many examples for openoffice.org. The Apple iWork suite has nice templates and a nice selector widget. So we need a better template dialog like the iWork one, and ideally with the ability to browse an online set of quality controlled templates.

Competitive Analyses

"File -> New" dialog in iWorks:

1 file new dialog.png

Proposed Solution

We can improve the current dialog "Templates and Documents". It includes some questionable entries:

  • the tab "New Document" duplicates the menu entries File/New/*. Note that the dialog is started from this menu.
  • the tab "My documents" duplicates functionality of File/Open
  • the tab "Samples" shows no file by default. I wonder if there are any samples at all. What is the exact difference between a template and a sample?

The new dialog must be clean & easy, yet powerful. It must provide:

  • categories - list box/tree view
  • names/previews - like iWorks?
    • the preview image should be saved to the templates by default; We should be able to create in the fly for the older documents. Note that the functionality is somehow already implemented in Impress. You can see it on the right side (Task Pane) when you select the tab "Master Pages".
  • [Create], [Cancel], [Help] buttons
  • [Open file...] button? - probably yes, we want to be able to start this dialog directly from the desktop
  • [Manage templates] button? - no, can be done from the menu
  • search/filter!
  • tooltip on the preview shows info like creator, date, etc.
    • more can be in the right-click menu
  • templates from web (official or user defined site)?
    • would have the same categories (box/tree)
    • could be merged into the existing tree (would need check box to disable the web access)
    • could be in an extra tab
    • lets solve it later but be prepared, the web is not available now but...
  • [Advanced Search] button?
    • can be used to search by extra informations (author, comments) but also by extra information from the web site (ratings).
  • anything other? - hopefully not
  • Add possibility to change the language of templates. The users might can install templates more than one language (or defaultly use multi language installation (works on windows but currently is not supported)) but they cannot reach templates in other language just if they change the language of UI... I am dreaming about a drop-down box where the users can select one language from available languages (for example: installation with templates/personal/lang/de templates/personal/lang/hu and templates/personal/lang/en-US dirs shows German, Hungarian and English [US] possibilities). [Kami]

The recent proposal by Kendy:


Edit/Save Template Dialogs


The current dialogs "Files -> Templates -> Edit" and "File -> Templates -> Save" are not symmetric. The first one opens a normal open file dialog that does not shows the translated templates structure. The second one allows to save the files in the current structure but is very confusing.

Proposed Solution

Possible variants:

  • create new symmetric dialogs
  • put the functionality into the normal open/save dialogs

See the references for screenshots and notes about competitors.

Template Organizer


The current template organizer combines too much functionality in one. It is a confusing nightmare. It manages categories, files and styles inside the files at the same time! The available commands in [Commands] change contextually!

Proposed solution

We must split the functionality into more dialogs

  • "File -> Templates -> Organize..."
    • just organize the templates
    • presents with a single tree view with all the templates
    • tooltip on the template name shows the preview
    • [New Category]
    • [Rename], [Delete] - template or category
    • [Insert] - the current "Import template..."
    • offer rename when a template with the same name already exists
    • [Save As...] - the current "Export template..."
    • [Close], [Help]
    • moving in the hierarchy
    • [Set as Default]/[Reset Default]?
      • would be too many buttons
      • a separate File -> Templates -> Defaults...?
      • or Tools -> Options... -> something?
  • File -> Templates -> Styles...
    • we can start with the current "Load Styles" dialog that is accessible from the top right menu in the "Styles and Formating" toolbar and improve its design
    • list box/tree view
    • previews like in the open from template dialog?
    • the question if we could somewhat visualize the load styles components
    • [Close], [Help] - keep
    • buttons [File...], [Address Book...], [Printer settings...] from the original dialog
      • let's just bin these, they are accessible from the menu

The recent proposal by Kendy


Template Categories


OOo currently provides only about 8 categories out of box (hardcoded names in resources). Only 4 are visible by default because the other are empty. We are going to get the existing templates together and prepare a nice gallery, so more categories will be necessary.

Proposed Solution

  • hierarchycal categories
    • maximum level (one, two, ...)?
  • must not be hardcoded in resources!
  • support for 3rd party packages with templates
  • default categories
    •  ?

Localization of Templates


Templates often include many graphics and only few localized strings. There is no easy way to localize templates using .po files.

Competitive Analyses

FIXME: Nothing useful found

Proposed Solution

  • support for "one template for all localizations"?
  • useful for simple ones, but not for more complicated ones; For example, a Czech official letter has a different form than an English one
  • can macros help here?
  • create tools that allow to localize using .po files

Templates on Disk


The current solutions does not support well the above mentioned features, especially the categories without hardcoded names. The templates cannot be easily shared with other office suites.

Proposed Solution


  • hierarchical categories
  • support both common and localized templates
  • category names not hardcoded in resources!

Structure of categories:

  • shared directory structure
  • language as the last part of the path
    • eg. "template/category/en_US/template-name.otp" (or "template/category/template-name.otp" for the ones without text/localized inside the file) instead of "template/en_US/category/template-name.otp"
    • localization of the categories
      • .directory on unx
      • also on Win32? or another mechanism?
      • definitely not resources! - must be controllable from the outside

(Note from KAMI: You can use this method to localize category names:

Put ".nametranslation.table" file to parent of localizable folder with this content:







Here, Documentations folder will appear as Unterlage from the selector.

System location:

  • <OOo-installation>/share/template
  • "My Templates" in <user-dir>/usr/template
  • a common place for easier installation of additional templates
    • ideally shared by other apps as well (koffice, etc.)
    • /usr/share/template? /usr/share/templates? something other?
  • when there's a common dirname (eg. <OOo-installation>/share/template/letters,

and /usr/share/template/letters) - share the content? Or not?

Official OOo Templates Web Site

Scenario: One place where users can easily find and contribute templates

The idea is to have a page named like http://templates.openoffice.org, instead of http://documentation.openoffice.org/Samples_Templates/User/template/index.html behaving like http://www.kde-files.org/ or similar pages that allow users to add graphics/templates by themselves, rate the existing, download packages of templates, etc. while not having to go through the 'project roles'.

http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/ like functionality is would be nice. Also we might make extension site to distribute templates too.

Needs a web framework around it:

  • templates can be sorted into groups
  • screenshots and short descriptions
  • users can comment the templates and vote
  • it should be possible to hide poor templates (based on the voting results)
  • users can download only a selected template or all temlates at once
  • force contributors to define license, title, author, really use the template format, ...
  • the structure is well defined, so such (even 3rd party) sites can be online searched by OOo itself
  • also the meta information (license, vote results, ...) should be store a well defined way, so they can be used by the online search from OOo (to filter poor templates, ...)
  • is any extra support for signed templates necessary?

Why a new project?

  1. The existing projects are not woldwide known.
  2. They do not allow to import the templates easily into OOo

Already existing projects [FIXME]:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ooop - the new OxygenOffice (was: OpenOffice.org Premium) project by Kami - it include many free templates from the other projects. Every single templates and samples are here: http://ooop.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/ooop/trunk/extras/source/premium/

License is controversal - the solution is here: Introduce licensing related information file by file: http://ooop.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/ooop/trunk/documents/license/ Introduce non-free repositories for non fully free templates.

Licensing related things: Many templates comes from OOO's Documentation project, OOExtras, OOo's Distibution project

  1. Templates
    1. OOo Distibution's project release a Extras CD (for 2.0.1) where included templates from original StarOffice 5.2 CD that went free - the original owner of these templates (around 18 templates) is http://www.templatezone.com/. I tried to contact with them but my question is still unanswered.
  2. Cliparts
    1. Cisco's Network Topology Icons - Cisco has allowed me to pack their icons with OpenOffice.org. They asked me to warn use to not to modify these standardised iconset. http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac50/ac47/2.html The license is easy and clear: "Cisco icons are globally recognized and accepted as the standard in network icon topologies. Use them freely without alteration."
  3. Fonts
    1. Ray Larabie has allowed me to pack their fonts with OpenOffice.org. He has a different license. His homepage is here: http://www.larabiefonts.com/ - FAQ: http://www.larabiefonts.com/help.html

templates mostly labels. He has some more plans.

  • Caolan has a nice selection of tempaltes for Fedora

Color/Font Styles


Writer and Impress allows to read the document style from another document/template. They allows to change the background from a gallery. There could be also predefined styles for colors or fonts.

Proposed Solution

Let's solve it later.

  • where to store the styles
    • create an extra template category "styles" including special templates providing only style
    • put such information into a xml files, such as presets/config/palette_en-US.soc
  • user interface
    • as it is done now in the "Load style" dialog
    • add extra tab into Format -> Page
      • combo boxes for the various elements (color, font, style, ...)
      • let the user select from predefined names (Default, Sun, Novell, ...)
      • the names could be names of the special templates and the information could be read from the templates, ...



If we have a nice gallery of templates and document styles, a wizard for Writer would be useful. The Impress should be reviwed as well.

Proposed Solution

Let's solve it later.


  • show more previes at once, such as in the new "From Template" dialog
  •  ?


  • allow to modify the document style in the second phase
  •  ?


Screenshots and notes about competitors.

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