Printerpullpages/Current State of Printing OOo31

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This page is part of the CWS printerpullpages. It provides findings about the current state of printing in 3.1 by analyzing usage feedback data, workflows and printing dialog screenshots.

Usage of Printing Features and Options

Source Data

Currently, there are many options in with regard to printing. When looking at the technical constraints (e.g. native dialogs vs. system independent dialog, application settings vs. operating system settings), the space restrictions, ... it seems to make sense to have a look at the current options. Is each option really necessary, can it be well understood? Most of the data is currently provided in several Calc documents which get (hopefully) updated regularly.

  • File:Current Dialogs ListOfAllPrintDialogElements.ods: List of all printing dialog elements and options with regard to their meaning, understandability and necessity. It also includes developer comments, which I have to thank for. Worth reading and commenting ;-) Currently, this is the most important document on this page.
  • File:2009-07-04 UserFeedbackData PrintingAnalysis.ods: Based on the first User Feedback Data there is a short analysis considering Writer, Impress, Draw and (partly) Math. Please note that the User Feedback system still has the drawback that some of the sources of function requests can not be identified. Elements that are ambiguous (to me) are marked with '???'.
  • File:Current PrintingOptions SettingsInDocumentFiles.odt: This document summarizes all printer dialog related settings which are stored in the native files (settings.xml). As far as the settings could be identified, they have been transferred to the file “List of all Print Dialog Elements”. Issue: Even for the same module (e.g. Writer), only a subset of all options is saved in the document.

Printerpullpages 2009-06-11 UsageOfImpressDialogsVisualized.png

This is just an early preview how the printing dialog is used.

Note: The data is based upon a previous version of "2009-07-04 UserFeedbackData PrintingAnalysis.ods", so please read the description how the data has been acquired.

Printing Dialogs

The sum OK and Cancel events are the reference for the number of uses for the dialog. Then, for each of the printer dialog elements the usage frequency is calculated on that data. The usage frequency is given by all events of each element (e.g. more/less/modify for spin fields) which will lead to inconsistencies (unknown until we can analyse the exact sequence of how elements were used). Nevertheless, for all modules (if possible) the average and standard deviation have been calculated. Date of creation 2009-07-05.

Module Name Average [%] Standard Deviation [%] Comments / Finding
All Modules OK
Only for Impress. the part of Cancel is extreme (21.3%). Why?
All Modules Number of copies
The usage of Number of copies is slightly higher for Writer and Draw. (But. all events count.)
All Modules Pages
All Modules None (Pages Text Field)
All Modules Properties
In Impress and Draw. properties are set twice that often.
All Modules Name
Calc Selected cells
Impress Slides per page
All Modules Cancel
refer to OK
All Modules Options
In Impress. the options are far more used (4 times as much in comparison with Writer and Calc).
Impress Vertical
Impress Horizontal
Calc Selected sheets
All Modules Collate
All Modules All pages
Writer. Impress. Draw Selection
All Modules Print to file
All Modules Help
In Impress. the need for help is maximal (0.3%).

Workflow Analysis


The following selected workflow descriptions are used to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of printing. These workflows are not selected according their occurence, they are just meant to be examples to better understand printing.

Name Steps and Finding
User prints in Draw directly


  • User has document with certain objects (even transparent ones)
  • User selects one transparent object
  • User selects toolbar icon "Print File Directly (PRINTER NAME)"
  • Dialog "Printing Selection" pops up ("Do you want to print the selection or the entire document?" [Selection / All / Cancel])
    • Case A1: User selects "Selection"
    • Case A2: User selects "All"
  • Only for case 2: Dialog "Transparency Warning" pops up ("The document contains transparent objects. Should ... reduced?" [Yes / No / Cancel])
    • Case B1: User selects "Yes" (reduce transparency)
    • Case B2: User selects "No" (don't reduce transparency)
  • Document is printed

Finding: Why are there so many modal dialogs, even when the users wants to print "quickly". Besides that, why is there a modal dialog? Wouldn't it be better to use a non-modal dialog which gives the user e.g. 15 seconds time to decide. If there is no decision within this time, the printing could start using defaults.

User prints a poster in Draw


  • User designed a poster in Draw and set the margings to "0". Then he wants to print it on his inkjet printer which isn't able to printer borderless.
  • User selects File -- Print... -- OK
  • Dialog "Warning Printing Options" pops up ("The page settings do not match the print range. ..." [Fit page to print range / Print on multiple pages / Trim])
    • Case A1: User selects "Fit page to print range"
    • Case A2: User selects "Print on multiple pages"
    • Case A3: User selects "Trim"
  • Document is printed

Finding: If the document was designed on the same computer, then the user has already been warned concerning the limited print range when the page margins have been set (Format -- Page...). When printing is started, the user is warned concerning the print range. In case he wants to have the true scale, then there is no way to pre-define "trim" for the output (the same is true for "Print on multiple pages"). The user gets the "Warning Print Options" every time he prints!

Note: The formulation of "Fit page to print range" in "Warning Print Options" is different in comparison to "Fit to page" in the print options.

Note: If page options "brochure" is selected, then no "Warning Print Options" (paper size) is given, even if objects cross the printable range.

User prints to file


  • User has a document which should be saved to a file (in a printer language)
  • User selects File -- Print...
  • User activates "Print to file"
  • User clicks on "OK"
  • A file selector dialog pops up
  • The user enters / selects the file to be printed in
    • Case A1: File doesn't exist yet
    • Case A2: File already exists
  • Only for case A2: The dialog "Save" pops up ("The file already exists. Overwrite?" [Yes / No]).

Notes concerning the dialog "Save" (OOo 3.1 from Ubuntu PPA):

  • Short: The dialog is ... bad!
  • The title is wrong, since it should state something like "Overwrite existing file?"
  • The buttons are not self explaining ([Yes / No])
  • The main dialog text is surrounded by '"' (quotation marks) - why?
  • The dialog looks "alien", because it is provided by GTK. Here, the button order is different to the OOo dialogs.
  • On my computer, the dialog is hidden behind (!!!) the printing dialog - and OOo appears to be frozen.

General Findings

  • The printing system is very flexible, but sometimes complicated and complex!
  • We have far to many modal dialogs!
  • Each print (warning) dialog looks different!
  • We have inconsistent options!


This section is intended to show some of the places where provides functionality or options concerning printing. You may see that it is not just related to the printing dialog, so that we have to keep an eye on consistency. And if you look very closely, the current user interface isn't that consistent and (maybe) understandable, so please refer to Usage of Printing Features and Options

Print Dialogs

Writer Print Dialog
Calc Print Dialog
Impress Print Dialog
Draw Print Dialog
Math Print Dialog

Print Options Dialogs

Writer Print Options Dialog
Calc Print Options Dialog
Impress Print Options Dialog
Draw Print Options Dialog
Math Print Options Dialog

Various Printer Dialogs

Printer Setup Dialog
Printer Properties Dialog (Paper)
Printer Properties Dialog (Device)
Tools - Options... - - Print Sub-Page
Writer Print Options Page View Dialog

Various Printer Warning Dialogs

Warning Printing Selection Dialog (Title „Printing Selection“)
Warning Print Options Dialog (Title "Warning Print Options")
Warning Transparency Dialog (Title „Warning“)
Warning Save Dialog (Title „Save“)

PDF Export Dialog

PDF Export Options Dialog (General)
PDF Export Options Dialog (Initial View)
PDF Export Options Dialog (User Interface)
PDF Export Options Dialog (Links)
PDF Export Options Dialog (Security)
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