Guidelines for Touch Points

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A brief memorandum about touch points and associated requirements

Lutz Hoeger, Nov 09, 2007, last update: Jan 22, 2008

Touch Points: Links From Product to Web

For this memo, "touch point" stands for pointers from the downloadable product to web sites that are assembled under the domain. These pointers may be represented in different ways:

Pointer Type Explanation
Direct hyperlinks "Clickable" links that usually point to a web site
Indirect links User actions that end up on a web site, e.g. "check for updates"
References Plain text references to web sites, e.g. in readme files
Brand elements Logo artwork or the name "", not acting as link or reference. Note: This pointer type is not part of this memo.

Why Touch Points?

  • The OOo product is very successful. As of today, we speak about one million downloads per week.
  • But users of the product do not necessarily visit the OOo web site(s) frequently (cf. IDC and Survey, Nov. 2006) - if they know it at all.
  • So it seems desirable to build on top of the OOo product success and guide traffic to the OOo web site. Various groups would benefit from this in many ways:
    • OOo Users. They learn better how to do more with their product (updates, extensions, documentation, support, ...), and they easier find information about what is going on in the OOo world (conferences, contests, ...).
    • The OOo community. As the traffic on OOo web sites increases, more people have the chance to join the community and participate in the OOo project.
    • OOo solution providers. They reach a broader audience. This makes OOo web site(s) a more compelling platform for solutions based on OOo.

Links From Where...?

Touch points can be implemented in different parts of the OOo product.

  • Direct hyperlinks and indirect links from within the application's graphical user interface (GUI). Examples for such links include already existing links, like the menu command "Help - Check for Updates..." or the hyperlink "Get more extensions here..." in the Extension Manager dialog. But there are also many places for new links of this type, e.g. "Get more templates..." in the template manager or "Find more Clipart..." in the Gallery.
  • The Help also is an excellent place for touch points. Examples for hyperlinks from the OOo Help are already included: Under "Getting Support" there is a chapter with links to the OOo main web site. The application documentation is a good place for more links, e.g. links from specific subjects to more in-depth how-to documentation on the web, or links to a community maintained help wiki.
  • There is a related part of the OOo product, which may be a less obvious place for touch points: the additional product documentation, like readme file, release notes and license file. In the simplest case, these documents are display in plain text, so they provide an opportunity for reference type touch points (hyperlinks usually do not work in plain text mode).
  • Further places for touch points depend on the underlying operating and desktop system, and it's software management facilities. E.g., Windows provides means to link to the vendor, to the support site, etc.

...To Where?

The fundamental principles of are centered around free use, community participation, and absence of single-vendor lock-in. For a broad acceptance of touch points it is essential to respect the principles of OOo, and provide mutual benefit to all involved parties (users, community, solution providers).

This is less of a constraint than an opportunity: The wider the acceptance of (certain) touch points, the higher the likeliness that these touch points will not be removed in any custom OOo release.

Targets like the extension repository, the OOo main web site, etc. are vendor neutral, and allow for participation for all OOo solution providers - and for an open competition amongst them. Therefor these targets should be preferred over vendor specific targets.


Customer Requirements

  • Do not connect to the Internet without the user's or administrator's permission.
  • Make it possible to disable all touch points - ideally with minimal effort (a.k.a. master switch)
  • Optionally, make it possible to redirect touch points, e.g. to an Intranet target (e.g. for local deployment of updates, extensions, ...).

Usability Requirements

  • The product must remain functional in it's core functionality even when there is no network (Internet) connection.
  • Especially for indirect links, clearly state the touch point's target (e.g. in a pop-up).
  • When touch points do not work, e.g. because the link target does not exist, provide clear and unambiguous error messages, ideally with instructions on how to report the problem.
  • Use screen real estate sparingly. Do not display multiple touch points in the same place, when screen real estate is limited. E.g. do not display "Get Templates", "Get Samples", "Get Wizards" and "Get XYZ" in the file menu.
  • For extensions, do not introduce touch points to a single extension only (exception: see next chapter). Instead, use touch points to a group of similar extensions (e.g. "Get more templates" pointing to all templates on the extension repository).
  • Ideally, only show touch points like "Get more..." when there actually is more on the web than what is already installed on the user's system.

Technical Requirements

  • Make touch points "end-of-life-able". When a link target does not exist any longer, it should be easy to remove the touch point from the product, without major technical changes.

No rule without an exception

Though generally there is the requirement, to never introduce touch point that point to one specific extension only, there will be situations where this is necessary.

An example for this could be an ODF-file, that contains data which requires a certain extension to view or modify it. The touch point would be e.g. a message box that pops up when the user tries to access or edit the file or the respective content.

Examples for new Touch Points

The following list includes some examples for new touch points. It is neither complete, nor in any specif order. It should just help to get a better idea about touch points, and hopefully it also triggers some creative thinking about the subject.

Source Target Remark
Template and Documents dialog, Impress task pane "Master Pages" Template collection on extension repository (ER) "Get more templates..."
Gallery Gallery themes / clipart collection on ER "Find more clipart..."
Calc, menu "Tools" Calc tool collection on ER "Find more Calc tools..."
Calc, function autopilot, function list Calc function collection on ER "Get more functions..."
Chart, chart type list Chart types collection on ER
Macro organizer Macro collection on ER "Get more Macros..."
Language attribute selection Dictionary collection on ER or dictionary download page "Get dictionaries..."
Writer, AutoText dialog AutoText collection on ER "Find more AutoTexts..."
OOo Help Documentation wiki "Find help online..."
OOo Help, specific places Specific items on the How-To list on OOo "Read more about this feature online..."

Template and Gallery related touch Points

Location Target Remark
First start Wizard Repository: All template and gallery packs Get templates, example and pictures
Template and Documents dialog All template packs on the Extension Repository Get more templates...
Template Management dialog Repository: All template packs Get more templates...
Impress Master Page task pane Repository: Template packs with a slide background tag Get more slide backgrounds...
Gallery Themes Repository: Extensions tagged as Gallery themes Get more Gallery themes
Extension Manager Repository: All Extensions Get new Extensions...

List potential touch Points for future releases

Location Target Remark
Error and warning message box Link to a search result page on OO.o with all error related postings Find help on
Calc: Error at the function result Link to a search result page on OO.o with all error related postings Error message as link double click the mouse on the status bar
Insert - Pictures - <Picture Repository> Repository: All (Gallery) Image packs Get more pictures...
Insert - Movies and sounds - <Movie and Sounds Repository> Repository: All Movies and Sounds packs Get more movies and sounds...
Document Signatures (Digital Signatures) page with a digital signature vendor list Request a digital signature
Tools - Options - Language language pack page Add new Languages...
Tools - Options - Colors Repository: New color sets for the Chart and application Add new color set...
Tools - Macros - Basic/Javascript/Python/Beanshell Basic/Javascript/Python/Beanshell code snipped page Get code snippets ...
Help menu Documentation project Page Documentation on
Help menu Help Forum Help Forum
Help menu Support Page ( Support
OO.o Help - Specific items Specific items on the How-To list on OOo Read more about this feature online..
OO.o Help - Documentation Documentation project page Documentation on
XML Filters Repository: XML Filter Extensions Get more Extensions ...
Labels/Business cards Repository: Label/Business card templates Get more Labels/Business cards
File - Wizards Repository: Extensions tagged as Wizard Get more wizards...
Spellchecker/Thesaurus dialog Repository: Spellchecker/Thesaurus Dictionaries Add more languages...
User Dictionaries Business related dictionaries Get new dictionaries
Autoshapes Repository: Autoshape Extensions Get more Shapes
Impress Master Page task pane Repository: Template packs with a slide background tag Get more slide backgrounds...
Writer - Text Table - Autoformat Repository: Table Autoformat template extensions Get more formats ...
Writer - Autotext Repository: Autotext Extensions Get new Autotexts ...
Calc - Function Wizard Repository: Calc Addins Add new Functions
Calc - Cells Format - Number Formats Repository: Number format Extensions Add new number formats
Chart Repository: New Chart types Get more chart types
Base - Database connectors Repository: New database connectors Add new database connectors
Writer - Mail Merge Wizard Repository: Mail merge wizard address fields extensions Get more address field templates ...
Base - Form/Report/Table Wizard Styles Repository: Form/Report/Table Wizard Styles Get additionally Form/Report/Table Wizard Styles
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