What Windows RT Means for LibreOffice

While Mozilla and Google have received a lot of press attention for their Windows RT antitrust worries, nobody’s yet spoken up about the antitrust nature of Microsoft allowing only its own office suite to run as part of Windows RT’s Classic environment.

While it’s difficult to port a browser to Metro, it would take years for LibreOffice to be ported to the Metro environment. Microsoft gets to take the easy way out, as it gets to allow its Office suite to run as part of the Classic environment. Not only that, it gets all the advantages of the Classic environment, both in terms of the higher privileges that Mozilla has been talking about and even in terms of just having a windowed environment that’s especially useful for office suites (or maybe it just seems that way to me, seeing as my mother is a translator and often needs to have two windows side by side).

That basically means that Office will be the unchallenged office suite for Windows RT for years to come — LibreOffice, Calligra, and Apache OpenOffice have no fighting chance.

Am I the only one concerned about this? Why isn’t this receiving the attention it deserves?

We have a Google Plus page!

If you’re a Google+ user, you’ll be happy to know that we finally got around to creating a Google+ page for the LibreOffice Design team: https://plus.google.com/102673546895803839652/posts

If you’d like to follow LibreOffice’s design progress or hear about the things we’re working on and how you can help, go add us to your circle. 🙂

P. S. Does anyone here know if Diaspora supports page creation? Or is page basically synonymous to user on Diaspora?

Call for Templates

As part of the Google Summer of Code, we’re redesigning the template dialog. And with a new template dialog, we need some new, good looking templates, as the ones we have now are pretty awful.

Don’t be afraid to submit your own template. We need lots of templates and if we find that yours is good, we’ll include it. Be aware, though, that it should be licensed under the CC0 license (public domain, basically), as we need to guarantee that people can use the templates in any way they want to. Be sure to use only your own creations and things that you know are in the public domain (worldwide) in your templates.

Also, if you have a blog or at least use a social network, be sure to share this post with everyone — we need as many templates as we can get.

Thanks. 🙂

Rare Opportunity at Making a Difference

The LibreOffice Design team is asking for designs for three projects that have been accepted into Google Summer of Code (that means that they’re more than likely to be implemented): An ODF viewer for Android, a revamped Templates dialog, and a smarphone remote for Impress.

See the Design page for more information and to get involved.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Saturday 5th, 16:00 GMT. Submit what you have — your proposal doesn’t have to be 100% complete.

Anyone is welcome to make a proposal. You don’t have to have any design skills whatsoever — a worded description will suffice, though mockups or paper sketches to go along with it would be much appreciated.

The final design will be based upon an analysis of all the submitted proposals.

Calligra Suite

On April 11, Calligra Suite came out — forgive me for taking so long to write a post about it.

It turns out that I don’t hate the UI as much as I thought I would, though I still prefer that of both Google Docs (and, to a lesser degree, LibreOffice) by a considerable amount. The suite is still in its infancy, you can tell, but it also feels incredibly smooth, fluid — it’s built with new technology, you can tell.

What really excites me about Calligra is its modularity — it’s coded in such a way as to keep the UI as separate from the backend as possible, uses Flake as a library for objects, which means that objects should look and behave the same in every module of the suite, and these things make it much easier to develop new modules for the suite, to port the suite to other devices, and to create custom UIs for these devices.

Boudewijn Rempt describes it in depth in this video:

Too bad Calligra doesn’t have a design team… 🙂

P. S. I’ll be happy if you use/tweak/share/spread the calligram above — get the source code at this link. CreativeCommons Zero, as always, though be aware that the trademark law for Calligra still applies.

Google could’ve owned social

Google Wave is considered one of Google’s big failures today. It was bloated, had a crowded UI, suffered from feature creep, and, while it was online, it was pretty useless, since nobody was on it and it was hard to get invited.

And yet, if Google gave it a proper overhaul — drastically simplified, removed the UI oddities, and properly split Wave’s different aspects into several pages, it could have been the next communication platform. It’s open-source, decentralized, and includes enough features to meet a number of communication needs.

Messages (E-mail+Chat)

Did you know that the Google Wave founder left Google for Facebook? A little while later, Facebook Messages, a blend of chat and e-mail, appeared. It did essentially the same thing as Google Wave, except all the complexity was taken out and focus was put on one thing — simple person-to-person communication. And it was a huge success.

Due to its decentralized nature, Google Wave could have made “messages” universal. Messages would sooner or later become a communication standard, outplacing e-mail and making closed communication platforms like Facebook Messages or Apple’s iMessage irrelevant, since it’s just superior technology to e-mail. And for those still clinging to their e-mail accounts, messages could be sent as e-mails and vice versa.


One of the most important features of Wave was the “embedded wave” — a wave websites could bundle as their comment field or a feedback box. Imagine having a decentralized, open-source alternative to Disqus, Livefyre, etc. that you don’t even have to create a special account for. Even better — you get replies to the comments you’ve made anywhere on the internet under your account right on your Wave client, hopefully fit and snugly within its own special section instead of intermingled with your serious messages.

Google+ base

If Google+ was decentralized, it would rock so much more than it currently does. And an easy way to decentralize it would be to simply take Google Wave and tweak it a little. You’d no longer have to choose between having a closed, restrictive social network with your friends and your grandma on it (Facebook, Google+) and an open, decentralized network with few people and little activity (Diaspora).


Since you’d have all your communication tied to one place and one wave account (whatever wave provider you chose to go with), you’d only need to manage a single set of contacts. That would make sharing/privacy settings so much simpler. Not only that — if done correctly, it would open other services to these settings. So, for example, you could tell Ubuntu One that you’d like to share your files only with people from your “Work” circle even though Google would actually host your contacts.

Online freedom

Now that we’d have a single decentralized communication and contact system, the rest follows. The user would be in control of his data on the net. He wouldn’t be forced to use his real name, he wouldn’t be tied to a single host, he wouldn’t be coaxed into having a public profile, and he could have as many accounts as he’d like.

How does this help Google?

It helps the open web. Frankly, right now, Google could care less who hosts the communication platform. It’s not making any money on Google+ — it doesn’t even have advertising on it yet. All it’s doing is trying to divert people from Facebook, which is becoming the new way people discover things, the new place where people spend time, and is eating at Google’s business. And Google is still the biggest online advertising provider, so it’s likely that a number of wave hosts would put Google’s ads on their sites to make money.

Making the clipboard usable

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what the icon with the scissors did. I didn’t know what the icon with the two papers did. Even after I learned what copying and pasting is, even after I knew the common “Ctrl+C”, “Ctrl+X”, and “Ctrl+V” shortcuts, I still didn’t know what those scissor and paper icons did. I once mistook the scissor icon for the “Crop” button and was surprised when the whole image disappeared.

I wonder if anyone out there ever found the two clipboard icons intuitive. What do scissors have to do with the clipboard, anyway?

Being a stickler for consistency and clarity, I set out to make a more usable set of clipboard icons. My goal was to connect the clipboard icons visually, so that anyone could quickly tell that the icons belong together. I also wanted to make the functionality obvious: I used the standard “move” and “copy” symbols, as cutting is simply moving to the clipboard and copying is copying to the clipboard.

Can you tell which one is Cut and which one is Copy?