Hi Rafael, all!

I don't know if you have noticed Octavio's reply (it raised your mail to visibility again), because he didn't CC you, what seems to be usual here on this list (in opposite to any other LibreOffice list). If not, here is a link:

http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/libreoffice/2011-March/009534.html

Rafael Daud schrieb:
Hi all,

I've just joined the development list, and don't have any programming
skills worth to mention, but I'm quite eager to contribute to the
development of LibreOffice (BrOffice here), and do have few ideas to
share. Please advert me if I don't follow the good practices in here :-)

I could imagine, that you would like to join the design team, because over there we don't work on visual design only, but on UX- and UI-design too.

Therefore I CC'd the design list - Follow-up over there please...

Please have a look at the wiki for details about our mailing list
http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Design#Communication

If you want to, post your idea there too.


What I was thinking is how to make new users (or even old ones) to use
style-based rather than direct formatting.[...]

Styles are a very mighty feature - but as you state below, they are not accessible enough to be accepted by the average user.


The result is Style formatting is quite invisible to many users, unless
they know what they're doing. And in that case, it's still not pretty or
easily accessible. You can feel the power when you change the Font in
all of your titles at once, or when you change line spacing in all of
your paragraphs but long quotations in their own paragraphs. Even then,
having to open a new Styles & Formatting window, selecting the right
style, asking to edit it, then managing through a new dialog is quite a
hassle. What if I just wanted to change a single aspect of my style,
say, first line indent, then see how it looks, then change another, say,
paragraph indent, then another, and another, I would have to go though
that dialog a thousand times. I might get tired, and opt for the direct
formatting as a easier way to do things. I've done that, back then with
openoffice 1.1.

What if there was another way? An easier, more intuitive,
self-explanatory way?

It would be great, but probably not easy at all to find a way "normal" user will accept it as better than the way they are used to.

What they are used:

Select a word or phrase and add an attribute (bold, italic, color...) to it.

If they want to copy the attributes to another word or phrase, they use the "paint brush" or "copy" & "paste special".

If they change the formatting of one of the words with such attributes (e.g. add "italic" to pre-existent "bold"), they don't expect that all the other bold words become italic too.

Every proposal that doesn't respect this workflow is most likely to fail.

Your idea might be tricky:

[...] In the formatting toolbar, there's a
checkbox, checked by default, with the phrasing "applies to style" next
to it, and after that, the drop-down entry of styles. [...] So every change you
made from the interface, while the checkbox was checked, would apply to
the style. [...]

So I go to the ruler, and change the first line indentation. Next
paragraph (and the ones above it) all get the new indentation, without
me having to Crtl-A or select manually all of them. Just because they
use Default Style. But say I want this one paragraph to be different
than others? Then I go to the style drop-down entry and choose Textbody,
or whatever. Then all new changes to the ruler, font etc. gets applied
to the new style. And, of course, when I change style from the style
entry form, the new chosen style gets automaticaly applied to that
paragraph. So I know what's going on: I'm working with styles.

But you need to change the style *before* you do the formatting.

Imagine an average user who wants to create a title followed by normal text.

He writes the text of the title, changes the font size, centers the text and turns it bold.

You wrote that character formatting is a topic you didn't find a solution for by now - but I think this is similar. Just stick with "centered" in my example.

All this formatting is applied to the Default style without his knowledge.

Now he continues to write: The normal text is bold, large and centered.

What does he do?

He changes these attributes.

He will be very astonished to find out that his title has become normal text again!

And imagine he wants to color one word in his text in red.

How can he understand why his entire text becomes red?

He will probably need to learn how to define different formatting for characters, paragraphs, pages and so on.

If he doesn't find out how to do this (and if he isn't willing to spend some time on styles), he will decide that LibreOffice is broken and never try it again.

That way, even the most newbie will know right from the start he's
working with styles.

Not really - an option to check in the menu doesn't seem to be sufficient in my eyes to teach styles to a newbie.

With that in mind, he gets the chance to uncheck
that box and do not work with styles, but instead do direct formatting.
Maybe he'll do just that -- you can't forbid him -- but he'll know
there's another way, quite as much simple as that, to do things.

... if he knows...

What if I don't want to use an already existing style? Then there's an
icon on toolbar and a menu entry saying Create/Manage Styles, and a
submenu with the type of style I'm up to: Paragraph, Character, Page and
so on. And only then I get the dialog box, from where I can edit a new
style or manage an existing one, pretty much the way it already works.
So there's no need whatsoever for the much hatred (least by me) Styles &
Formatting window.

You already can create a toolbar icon for the Styles window (F11). Your way would cause much more mouse moving and clicks, if I understand it right.

I personally would prefer the Styles window.

[...]
All that applies to paragraph styles, but once you are in that path,
it's quite easy to take a hand on character and page styles. As for Bold
and Italic, and some of the other character formatting, I guess it poses
a problem, for which I don't have any answers yet. The most uses of Bold
and Italic are with direct formatting.

But it is the mightiest area IMHO:

HTML provides styles like "strong", "emphasized" and so on, so at least some people know about this option.

What we would need: An easy way to ask the user what he wants to do.

I don't know if anyone uses
character styles for that, when you just need one or another word in a
whole page to have that different formatting. Maybe that could be left
alone, and not be applied to style, despite consistency. Maybe only
paragraph formatting should be applied to [paragraph] style, and if you
wanted character style, you should go to Create/Manage Styles. Or go for
direct formatting with those exception formatting, by just unchecking
the box.

I like using styles for character formatting too - but direct formatting is easier at the moment.

This should be addressed ...

Well I guess I made my point, just let me know if it's worth to make a
visual mockup to exemplify. I don't know either if that just changes too
much the logic of the interface or of the software as a whole. I'm no
expert, hardly consider myself a power user. It looks easy and effective
to me, though.

I'd like to discuss this topic - and I'm quite sure others at the design list might join in.

Perhaps by using the new notification feature (currently worked on at OOo) we could inform the user that he enters a different style when he adds an attribute. And in case this is not his intention we could provide different options:

- Apply new attribute to selection only (single paragraph/character style - near to hard formatting) - Apply new attribute to existing style (modifying all appearances of the style in the document) - Create new style with the new attribute and the already existing ones (provide an easy name like "Standard bold" or "Textbody red background"). If the new style already exists, the selection can join this style. This should be standard behavior.


I'm aware this is a known issue and much thought must have already gone
onto it by the developers. Since I'm a newcomer, just let me know if
there's already a direction into addressing this matter, and please
point me to the discussing so I can follow, join in and perhaps
contribute. If not, I'd appreciate to know your thoughts about this
idea, whether or not it's priority (at this time) or even something
doable, or any issues that arises with it.

If you want to discuss this topic, please join our design list to find out which behavior will help our users most.

This doesn't mean that any developer would be interested to work on integrating this feature, once we found a way to provide our users with an as easy possibility to apply styles as it is now with hard formatting.

But in such important topics that cause our user to change their workflow we should ask about their needs and interests...

Best regards

Bernhard

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