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When will LibreOffice have a ribbon UI (as in MS Office 2007-2013)? [closed]

asked 2014-03-23 19:48:24 +0200

lincapri gravatar image

updated 2015-08-27 12:23:12 +0200

Alex Kemp gravatar image

OK, I'm pretty sure that this type of question was asked.

My school uses MSO 2007/2010, I use LO. If they even glimpse at LibreOffice, they are baffled by it's UI because it looks like MSO 2003. all I ask is "Is it possible for a extension that adds a tabbed UI?"

Is that a possibility?

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Closed for the following reason the question is answered, right answer was accepted by igorlius
close date 2020-09-08 13:38:45.072294



Hopefully never. This thing is almost impossible to navigate through. One of the main reasons, other than cost, that I switched exclusively to LibreOffice, it dosane't have a ribbon interface. And. if it dose, I hope the developers are smart enough to have a way to disable it.

TomSaine gravatar imageTomSaine ( 2014-10-31 15:52:57 +0200 )edit

Please, just NO. CUA (Common User Access) type menu interfaces have evolved, survived and prospered because they are USEFUL, MEANINGFUL, and ADAPTABLE to content creators. Leave tablet UI's to content consumers. Besides, we don't want to do anything to have MS claiming more IP infringement. CUA is so broadly adopted it is unimpeachable in terms of copyright and patents.

kmarsh gravatar imagekmarsh ( 2014-12-01 17:33:20 +0200 )edit

I tried the ribbon. What a disaster for productivity. I finally rolled back to an earlier version of Access without it, just because I came to hate it so much. Because it's new, doesn't mean it's better.

EasyTrieve gravatar imageEasyTrieve ( 2017-01-01 21:41:00 +0200 )edit

13 Answers

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answered 2014-03-24 01:36:18 +0200

ROSt52 gravatar image

updated 2014-07-13 09:55:04 +0200

Why do want to have tabs in the UI?

What is the advantage of changing to tabs when you first of all you loose a lot of time to learn where all the menu items are located?

Edit after comment by @Xanderxavier
I used non-ribbon (non tab UI) Outlook versions for many years and knew exactly what I need to do to customize all my Outlook. Beside XP I only use Outlook 2010 from MS. I had to spend a few hours to customize this Outlook version. At the end I still regarded the possible customization of the older versions as better; or I should have spent some more hours for customization. Looking at ribbons in general, I still do not see any advantage of the ribbons. In contrast, I see disadvantages.

The disadvantage becomes perfectly to be seen with the sidebar of LibO. Current PC screens are wider compared to the height of screen than older PC screens. Thus, there is more space at the side available which cannot be used by ribbons. Further, the rather high ribbons reduce further space from screen in the vertical direction. LibO went the right way by developing the sidebar. This bar uses the rather unused space at the side of a LibO document. In my case, I have now only one row of toolbar icons left below the menus and use the sidebar intensively.

As the LibO's devs continously improve LibO, I am looking forward to improvements in the pipeline. My contribution to this are a few enhancement requests.

@Xanderxavier - It would be interesting for members of this forum if could be so kind as to explain the advantage of ribbons from your point of view in detail going beyond your statement:

...the cost in time to re-train is well worth the time savings of future use.

Maybe you have some figures to support your above quoted statement. Your explanations may enlighten all forum members who do not see the advantages of the MS's ribbons yet.

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The ribbon UI's efficiency is well understood by this point worldwide, the cost in time to re-train is well worth the time savings of future use.

Xanderxavier gravatar imageXanderxavier ( 2014-07-11 17:00:14 +0200 )edit

@Xanderxavier, you exclude people who switched to LO especially because they do not want the ribbon.

mahfiaz gravatar imagemahfiaz ( 2014-07-13 10:47:39 +0200 )edit

@ROSt52, the main point behind the MSO ribbon is accessibility (related MSO blog entry here. It was largely designed as a response to touch devices, which demand larger targets to poke at and menus that stay displayed once selected (and are contextual). The main problem I have with the effort by MSO was how many problems the implementation had e.g., limited style list, styles that do not display, settings that are shown incorrectly, contextual selection when not required, etc. The LO sidebar is having similar teething issues.

oweng gravatar imageoweng ( 2014-07-14 12:32:31 +0200 )edit

@oweng - Thanks for explanations. The touch device reason is pretty good. But if one doesn't need to touch with fingers.... Although I like the LibO Sidebar very much, I do see still some challenges and enhancement potential. I am currently very curious for each new Libo version to see how the sidebar enhances.

ROSt52 gravatar imageROSt52 ( 2014-07-21 14:47:07 +0200 )edit

The ribbon, as the new windows tile design, is an attempt to unify the GUI of the different devices My personal opinion is that it is doomed by the very concept. Different kind of devices are used in a different way and have different physical properties. The side bar is better solution anyway, especially on tabs.

MichaelSD gravatar imageMichaelSD ( 2014-09-15 13:31:31 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-03-24 08:32:55 +0200

oweng gravatar image

updated 2016-03-29 13:53:38 +0200

Different products have different interfaces and work differently. Microsoft Office, LibreOffice / Apache OpenOffice, IBM Lotus SmartSuite, Corel WordPerfect Office, NeoOffice, iWork, and other office suites all have different ways of exposing functionality to the user. I am dismayed that students at a school, that presumably go there to learn, are so easily "baffled." Either the teachers or the students are not fulfilling their role effectively. The world is a diverse place. It contains lots of different things. The road to disappointment is paved with expectations.

To more directly answer the question, it is highly unlikely that a ribbon-esque toolbar interface (similar to that used by Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013), will be created for LibreOffice. Since LO v4.1 a sidebar has been implemented, and since LO v4.2 this sidebar is exposed by default. A recent comment by Charles-H. Schulz (founding member and current director of The Document Foundation, which produces LibreOffice) on the Design mailing list, in relation to the sidebar, indicated:

I think the takeaway is that you don't have to use the sidebar. It is redundant to other elements of the UI and is by no means no more modern than LibreOffice's interface since it comes from Lotus. ... we are NOT interested in becoming a [Microsoft] clone à la KingSoft.

Given the difficulty being faced by even the sidebar, a ribbon-esque toolbar would seem improbable, to say the least.

EDIT: It is evident from some of the "answers" below that members of this forum do not always fully comprehend that the MSO ribbon is patented (US8255828) UI technology. Other parties are free to license this technology but there are restrictions in certain cases e.g.,

2006-11-06, Microsoft News Center article:

The license is available for applications on any platform, except for applications that compete directly with the five Office applications that currently have the new UI (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access). We wanted to make the IP available broadly to partners because it has benefits to Microsoft and the Office Ecosystem. At the same time, we wanted to preserve the uniqueness of the Office UI for the core Office productivity components.

2006-11-21, MSDN Office User Interface blog post:

There's only one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can't obtain the royalty-free license.

Why this exclusion?

Microsoft spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the research, design, and development of the new Office user interface.

So, I would strongly suggest to those wanting a ribbon UI in LO that they donate something. Probably a lot of something.

Update: In late 2015 Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Corel, makers of WordPerfect Office, over infringing the Ribbon UI. Details over on Softpedia and ZDNet.

Related thread here.

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Great answer. However, I only wish LibreOffice team will improve existing GUI. Toolbars that keep appearing and disappearing is pretty annoying think about LibreOffice. Secondly, default toolbar icons are far from perfect. On the other hand, sidebar is great idea. I preferred sidebar vs. ribbon because it uses my monitor space smarter. However, here should be improved one think: when someone is using sidebar, then table toolbar and other toolbars are not required (should not appear when table is inserted)...

Ljiljan gravatar imageLjiljan ( 2014-03-24 15:00:37 +0200 )edit

I agree, and in my opinion the Ribbon UI is ill-suited to document design and authoring. LibreOffice has always had two excellent UI components which offer a visualization of and an access to most elements and tasks of document production: the Navigator for document elements and structure, and the Stylist for design and layout. However, and this is where the uphill battle is fought, using them appropriately requires a different conceptual view on what document production truly is.

CyanCG gravatar imageCyanCG ( 2014-03-24 19:39:52 +0200 )edit

Hi oweng, the reason they are "baffled" is because of the fact that the school revolves around MS's software and services, so something like LibreOffice will be strange and not familiar to them, and from what you're saying is that there is no way to make them feel like at home with LibreOffice?

lincapri gravatar imagelincapri ( 2014-04-28 21:09:56 +0200 )edit

@lincapri, I understand. Unfortunately though there is no way of changing the UI of LO in the desired manner at present.

oweng gravatar imageoweng ( 2014-04-30 14:39:58 +0200 )edit

I'd likeTo see the icons on the toolbars replaced with text titles. I find them much easier to read then trying to decipher Egyptian style pictoglyphs. I know they would take more room but just expand the toolbars to two lines.

jimbir gravatar imagejimbir ( 2018-08-05 22:50:06 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-03-24 13:37:18 +0200

L-user gravatar image

updated 2014-03-24 13:42:27 +0200

I may not help you with exact answer, but I do understand your point.

My humble opinion is: I don't like ribbon interface - actually I hate it, but that is not the point - the point is should there be one unified interface per operating system LibreOffice is implemented on? I think yes.

If user is using Windows 7 or newer there is a need to have one single user interface in all of the applications. Why should end-user relearn GUI for each of the application? End-users should get familiar with one GUI interface and all of the applications should support the way of doing it. It is not a question if this ribbon is the best or not, just to have one GUI end-users are familiar with. Having some different GUI it is reinventing the wheel. The best approach (but the from development point of view the worst) in my humble opinion it would be to have end-user the choice to select what kind of toolbar system he/she would like to use.

What I hated the most in LibreOffice when I started using it was the toolbar icons. There icons are so different from the icons I am used on Windows XP that I have spend a lot of effort to accustom to it. Then I start using LibreOffice on Ubuntu, where all of the icons from all of the applications have the same icons for new, open, save, copy, paste etc, except LibreOffice. Why? LibreOffice GUI looks like an alien application - like it does not belong there. Why end-user needs to relearn the GUI? In my humble opinion GUI interface should be aligned = customized according to operating system it is installed on. On Windows 7 it should use ribbon, on Ubuntu it should use Ubuntu style application etc. Something similar Firefox have done and I like it. Some years ago Firefox was also an alien in Ubuntu, but now it looks like true Ubuntu application.

GUI is not something developers like to spend time on, but that is one single thing that end-users see at first they see a product. And it can take seconds and users can decide not to use it just because of special GUI it uses. So it is not a question about if LibreOffice is good or bad, or does LibreOffice uses good or bad GUI. It is just different. And being different can be very powerful argument to not even try the application.

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answered 2014-03-24 14:41:11 +0200

mahfiaz gravatar image

Use Sifr icons, they look modern. And to every fanboi you know what to say... buy a licence, if that program really is that good.

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Honestly, I have a license

lincapri gravatar imagelincapri ( 2014-04-28 20:53:55 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-05-02 06:58:25 +0200

gabodorante gravatar image

honestly I think that negation of a possibility to implement a tab UI is just a proud think, document foundation should see that majority part of LO users is common people that just need a real alternative to MSO, and LO is great but too ugly, too different, too old UI, it is true that Ribbon UI was rejected in MSO 2007 but know we are in 2014, 7 years with Ribbon between us and to be realistic, once you get use with ribbon or tab UI you can see that all toolbars and all menu items are present and ordered in tabs, no matter what button you need to click, it is present in one tab, that is the advantage of Tab UI above toolbars and menu UI, and I think that as longer user of LO I definitely have the right to use a UI that I want, I do not ask for a redesigned UI, just the possibility to use another UI via Skins or Extension, that is the freedom of open or libre software, you can choose, but in this case even in MSO you can have a old toolbar UI via plugin and absurdity you can not do that in LO.

P.D: If developers could adapt sidebar in order to permit docking in uper side, I mean, horizontally under menu bar, and add a couple of tab, that must be a good start to have a tab UI on LO

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answered 2014-05-17 19:53:46 +0200

wanda.j.kerr gravatar image

I used Word 2003 until it was no longer supported recently, then downloaded the free trial version of MS Office 365. I hated the ribbon. It was terribly confusing and cluttered. The only saving grace was the ability to create your own personalized ribbon and put in it the functions that you commonly use. After the month's free trial expired and I discovered the cost of purchasing it (yearly fees) I searched for a free open source software and saw recommendations for Libre Office 4. It does take some getting used to, but well worth it. The more I learn about using it, the more I like it. The only thing I miss so far about Office 365 is the ease of editing images on a document and seeing a preview before pasting something you copied. I would suggest teaching students the basics of LO. Broaden their horizons! It may come in handy for them someday if they eventually use something other than MS.

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I'm a little baffled by many of the answers here, the only people who hate the ribbon interface are those who've not spent any time with it, put the effort in for a few months and it proves its superiority, its human nature for many to hate change, more for some then others, but the ribbon interface is literally quantifiably more efficient then the earlier interfaces, if your talking about business use, Libreoffices old interface will literally cost companies time and money, LO needs new UI.

Xanderxavier gravatar imageXanderxavier ( 2014-07-11 16:58:11 +0200 )edit

@Xanderxavier, "the only people who hate the ribbon interface are those who've not spent any time with it." This is not a claim you can substantiate. I have used the ribbon for several years. It has problems (some listed in a comment below) that I constantly wrestle with. I find LO significantly easier, more logical, more practical, and less prone to problems, but that is my opinion and is largely unrelated to a ribbon UI. Users of this site are free to opine. When LO will get a ribbon UI is a separate issue.

oweng gravatar imageoweng ( 2014-07-17 12:53:07 +0200 )edit

@Xanderxavier, I have to use ribbons at works and I do not like them, do not find them easier to use, nor are they more intuitive to me. Ribbons are lowest common denominator for all users. Most of the users with the little bit of office software experience find the ribbons annoying. If the current UI is beautiful (it is not) is open to discussion, but ribbons is not the way to go.

MichaelSD gravatar imageMichaelSD ( 2014-09-15 13:01:47 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-06-21 20:14:16 +0200

The problem about LibreOffice's UI is not about getting old-fashioned, but not getting up to date for the new ways to interact with the technology. The screens are now touchscreens and the old menus are a shooting exercise for our fingers. And more, people are waiting for a smartphone version of LO for about five years. But everyone understand that LO is not market oriented, so it is ok. And sorry for my bad english.

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Well, this is part of the problem, but for anyone who's used ms offices since 2003, it's literally alien to go back in time to a pre-2003 interface, its smacks of downgrading, it's less efficient to use, which is a shame, I would love LO to be a true alternative to msoffice suite, but due to what appears to be a lack of understanding of the importance of good UI, its simply not, they should have a special funding campaign to work on a ribbionUI for libreoffice, sooner rather than later.

Xanderxavier gravatar imageXanderxavier ( 2014-07-11 17:06:45 +0200 )edit

@Xanderxavier Well it seems you don't know how old the Ribbon Bar! The Ribbon Bar dates back to the 80s, so the concept is not really new! (Source)) I have to work with MSO2010/2013 at work since 3 years and I'm still searching for some features and functions very long as it really was easier in 2003 for the "not so common features" which were "hidden" behind some special menus.

Dennis Roczek gravatar imageDennis Roczek ( 2014-08-19 13:39:16 +0200 )edit

@Dennis Roczek: The wikipedia page you referenced as your source says the following: "The usage of the term ribbon dates from the 1980s and was originally used as a synonym for what is now more commonly known as a (non-tabbed) toolbar." I don't think that supports your argument.

sigelac gravatar imagesigelac ( 2014-09-15 19:15:35 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-07-12 05:42:17 +0200

wb gravatar image

Honestly I think that the guys at LO do not know how to programme something to save their lives and that is the reason they won't change to ribbon bar..Kingsoft has both ribbon and standard interface why not do the same and let the people choose what they want.. excuses excuses..

If you guys really want somebody to use your software, do what many are asking, to be so stubborn about it is beyond me. We are trying to help you guys. I can tell you that if you give the option for ribbon GUI you will gain more users than any other current software manufacturer.

Please don't come back with crap, you are wasting your time - I will use the software when there is a ribbon gui..


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As you can see there are quite some people who are happy with the usual UI or even in favor of it. So to paraphrase your standpoint, then how could some people so stubborn to keep demanding a ribbon interface if there are number of problems with it.

Also, we are sorry to see you leave, but right now if you really like the ribbon, spend some bucks and buy a copy of MS Office.

If you really would like ribbon or why not something better on LO, then contact the design team and start a kickstarter.

mahfiaz gravatar imagemahfiaz ( 2014-07-12 19:53:31 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-09-15 12:58:15 +0200

If you like the ribbon, use MSO. You can save in ODF in it too. It is not that expensive. So, with all due respect, you are not target group of LO.

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answered 2015-05-21 08:27:13 +0200

born2webdesign gravatar image

About the patents that Microsoft may claim for the ribbon UI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_(computing)#Patent_controversy#Patent_controversy) Tabbed menus have been around for a long time.

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Asked: 2014-03-23 19:48:24 +0200

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Last updated: Jan 01 '17