Inspiration UI

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Inspiration UI

Martin Hanzel
For those of you who have been following the Inspiration from Existing UIs thread, here is a sample of the Qt Creator-like UI, respun for OpenOffice, dubbed "Inspiration".
It's basically just a sidebar-based UI with a few cool features...

1. Bottom pane - this is a very powerful part of the UI - though maybe a smidge useless considering that the sidebar is capable of holding much more than regular toolbars. The panes was meant to avoid opening up windows, for example, the Page, Paragraph, and Character formatting windows. These would appear directly in the pane, and would allow the user quick access to advanced functions and the ability to immediately view the result in the document. Of course, this pane can be resized and hidden.

The pane is controled through the toolbar at the bottom, which has useful shortcuts to frequently-used functions. Clicking on these would display the appropriate window or page inside the pane. Maybe an embedded help or note-taking system could be used as well?

Like plug-ins that display new toolbars, the standard plug-in framework should also support custom panes (and sidebars; we'll get to that later).

The pane system is much more frequently used in programming (that is what Qt Creator is for), so I'm not sure it will have the same merits in an office suite, but I gave it a try anyway, see who likes it.

2. The toolbar at the top contains frequently-used functions as well as the text menus. My favorite feature is to combine the two into one toolbar. The outcome looks pretty neat :-)

3. The sidebar. Composed of two parts - function switcher, and the sidebar itself.

The switcher is the bar on the far left with the icons. These are used to toggle the function of the sidebar. For example, clicking the Navigator icon displays the navigator in the sidebar (the sidebar is quite global). Clicking the Inline icon shows text formatting buttons. Below this, there is a Styles button. This shows the styles window, and provides the best of both worlds to the users - some are scared of styles and prefer to select each font every time, and some ONLY use styles.

Of course these buttons are context-sensitive. When a shape of picture is selected, one will find the shape or picture icons instead of the inline or styles icons. Same goes for tables, form controls, etc.....

Below are the Gallery (or a low-down of all multimedia in OOo's and the user's repositories, as well as all the media used in the current document), and the Shapes icon. The Shapes might also be a global 'Insert' function, but shapes, in my opinion, will still dominate most of the crowd.

The sidebar itself holds a surprising amount of buttons and functions, even on a small screen (this is 1024x600, netbook resolution). It also leaves a surprising amount of space for the document as well, if you ignore the bottom pane (it's kind of ugly).

Once again, I'd really like to know what you think of it, so feel free to praise or critisize.


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