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Is the ribbon going to make an appearance?

asked 2017-03-07 09:54:34 +0200

Mack gravatar image

I have heard rumours that the dreadful ribbon is going to be added to LibreOffice. This is a sad day if that's the case. Many people use LibreOffice because it doesn't have the ribbon and I feel many will look for something else if it's put in place. Myself included, or I will just continue with the last version not to have it.

If you go ahead and install that dreadful screen hogger, will it be optional? Will it make it's presence know in Linux? I'd hate to move from LibreOffice, but there is no way in the world I want to use something as unintuitive and slow as a ribbon menu.

Regards, Mack

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answered 2017-03-07 12:22:02 +0200

Lupp gravatar image

updated 2017-03-08 14:03:29 +0200

(Editing partly with respect to the comments below:)
The most highly esteemed contributor ever to this forum was @oweng. Despite the fact that he retired about a year ago, he is still by far - and rightly - the one with the highest karma in this "meritocratic community". We should probably not dismiss his statements. Maybe the answer he posted about three years ago concerning a question about the ribbon UI is still worth to read at least. It was one of the last contributions he updated (2016-03-29) before retiring, and it was upvoted 9 times. Imo it is even still valid. You may go to that answer using the link. There is just a couple of sentences I would like to emphasize from my point of view of an old teacher (The old question contained "Students are baffled".) :

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.

(Italic by oweng. I would tend to insert "undue" in front of "expectations".)

(End edit)

(This is, as far as I can remember, my firts post for which I ask for upvoting.
For interseting comments I ask as well, of course, as implicitly always.)

A quiet submission in uneasy mood.

Might it be part of the current riding on the wave to decide "This but That as well." or "Let's make it optional." "Go 'Personal'." In my opinion productive software shouldn't go that way. Think alone of providing help. Will I have to hence fork when answering knowing of two or three ways and not knowing how many else there may be? (I already give alternatives sometimes.) Will I have to know about significantly different UI options to be able to help a beginner? There isn't even documentation yet correctly regarding all the changes made to the standard UI within the last few years. "Where is 'Window Freeze' gone?" "Was naming ranges or expressions abolished?" "I can no longer find 'Fill Right'." Software for the real world must be teachable and supportable. Free software cannot get the average user to pay for support either directly or by "buying" a new version every other year.

If competitors go the way of "individualize everything" LibO might take advantage of its orignal strategy: "Let's look the same and work the same way on every system." We might better add: "And have users see the same surface while they are communicating about the usage."

Of course, MS is strong in marketing. They aren't idiots, and they themselves will know best that "Ribbon Interface" is an extreme mischief with respect to the needs of conscious users. They didn't invent it to make their software better but to fight competitors. A few pleasant feelings for the jabbers and not too much obvious trouble ... (more)

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There's always a price to pay for something.

And both options (either keeping status quo, i.e. go without new interface options, as well as the opposite - to introduce new options) has their price.

But those who pay are different. In first case, it's the user who pays. Especially new inexperienced (to this software) user who has personal preferences brought from outside. We force them to learn our way, and not only the new concepts (that the software is built on, like styles etc.).

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-07 12:41:28 +0200 )edit

In second case, the users (both new and existing) are free to choose, and only supporters (mostly already experienced) have some extra load. I prefer second.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-07 12:43:01 +0200 )edit

Another case.
A: Let's get OOXML approved as an additional open standard.
B: One open document format standardised is preferrable.
C: Let the user decide.
Lupp: Those with the biggest market share in advance will steal the stake, even if they do not keep their promises concerning mutual support, persistence and whatever. In addition they will change something substantial as soon as competitors succeed with compatibility.
No chance to catch up. Must be better.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-03-07 14:47:18 +0200 )edit

Arbitrary analogy isn't a good argument. (Even aside from fact that it's not universally accepted that two open document standards is a wrong thing.)

A good wish to be better isn't supported by an adequate driving force, and without it, avoiding the catch-up doesn't make any good for LO.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-07 16:52:39 +0200 )edit

Very Interesting. Especially the last line. .... It was that ribbon that I paid much money for in an Access update (2007 I think) and then came to hate so much that I abandoned the update in favor of the previous version, Access 2003, which I still use today. I remain sure that the ribbon was invented by amateurs, kids let loose with power and trying to masquerade as pros, but they had no idea what production looks like. Windows 10 is the same bs, writ large, and so I am here w/ Linux/LO.

EasyTrieve gravatar imageEasyTrieve ( 2017-03-07 20:09:13 +0200 )edit

In my opinion, some of the new options for the new GUI, there are 4 options if I remenber correctly are quite good looking and shinny. But you guys have a point, that trying to modify the interface to make it look prettier and shinier can be a waste of time, since the competitor (full of cash from the proprietary world) will make new changes and will ultimately make unfruitful all the LO efforts to look 'prettier'. It's like a loop that has no end, a cat and mouse kind of thing...

Zeca gravatar imageZeca ( 2017-03-08 16:01:01 +0200 )edit

The solution is a more pragmatic approach: focousing on improving LO itself and make it functional. Perhaps, instead of spending so many resources on attempting to create a shinny Ribbon interface, the LO team shoud focous more on deciding which of the bugs that are sitting in bugzilla for years actually need fixing. The LO team should be focousing more on 'simple and mundane tasks should be made simple' and not on increasing the complexity of the code (which is already the size of the solar

Zeca gravatar imageZeca ( 2017-03-08 16:06:58 +0200 )edit

This work cannot be unfruitful. Before the work started, we had no extensible framework. Now we have it. So extending it in arbitrary direction is easier than before the effort. And for us, it's easy to keep all UI options, while for competitor, a change was "one and the only option available" which means a new learning curve and much disappointment from users.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-08 16:07:10 +0200 )edit

system) and adding stuff to it, like table styles (in LO 5.3) for example. There are more important things to do.

Zeca gravatar imageZeca ( 2017-03-08 16:08:48 +0200 )edit

And what is "so many resources"? A couple of developers? Who are interested in the work, and (you should remember - we are volunteer-based project!) possibly, if they were not allowed to work on this, they would leave the project. You seem to misunderstand how the things are done here.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-08 16:09:19 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-03-07 10:35:11 +0200

I know of a few topics out there that cause similar religious fear.

Do all LO users use Base? And if they don't, do they fear of its presence that much so they would describe it "I hear rumors that the dreadful Base is going to be installed with LibreOffice! Is that true? I'm afraid many people would look for something else because of that, myself included"?

What I expect from a sensible user is a question like "I heard LO is going to have Ribbon. I don't want to use ribbon, so will it be optional?" This doesn't make the question, and answer, something polarized.

And the answer to "Will it be optional?" is yes.

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To impute "religious fear" to critics and sceptics who well substantiate their point of view should be regarded bad style.
That myself and other critics also talk about some suspicions or a personal attitude you may regard as honest insofar as everyone of us knows he has to expect such accusations.
I personally don't feel offended but I am stunned by the idea of imputing unobjective and short-sighted thinking to oweng.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-03-08 23:04:29 +0200 )edit


  1. I'm really disappointed that these words are treated as targeted to just anyone you choose, not to the person who asked the question. This answer was the first in the thread, before any other reply was posted, and I never "accused" anyone in comments to (irrelevant!) other answers. Especially it's unfair to assume that this relates to Owen.

  2. I do think that the discussion about Muffin being wrong place to put effort reveals fundamental misunderstanding of TDF and LO development.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 06:58:12 +0200 )edit

Personally I don't like using Ribbon, while reasonably well can use it (e.g. in recent versions of AutoCAD etc.), but I do believe that declaring something as "invented by amateurs", "riding on a wave", "spent so many resources" etc (I skip most offensive) when there's a strong demand of this feature from fellow users, and it is developed by interested developers (there's no regulation in what to develop in TDF at all!) - is no less "accusation".

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 07:03:52 +0200 )edit

So, I'll try to describe what makes me think the question is asked incorrectly. First, it states that user was informed about arrival of "Ribbon" to LO (of course, it's about Muffin). OK, but the second statement is "This is the sad day", declaring this as a BadThing(TM) right away. This accuses those who developed this feature, as well as demeans those who asked for it. Then, it continues in the same tone, until it asks the real question: is it optional?

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 07:12:24 +0200 )edit

The spirit of TDF is co-operation and friendliness. And the long-standing disregard of those of our users who want this feature is not good. Of course, TDF doesn't force anyone to implement anything, it's developer who decides that they want to work on this or that. And when a developer decided to satrt working on this, now the users try to create some discrimination, declaring "Ribbon" users second-class. That's inappropriate.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 07:17:21 +0200 )edit

This doesn't mean that other fields don't deserve love, e.g. many bugs, or anything from long list of feature requests you choose. But whatever a developer would choose to work on, there will (and are!) always many users who believe that another thing is more important (to them!), and so the resources are being wasted. That's bad, and shows egoistic attitude.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 07:20:00 +0200 )edit

So, now I'm declaring that I do disagree with you, and Owen as well. And I do declare that I don't disregard both of you because of this, just I don't agree that the tone is right, and that there is a huge misunderstanding. When you say a good argument (that teaching will be harder), I agree, but try to show that at least some other group will get a bonus for that. And users is what we all (devs and teachers) should care of.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-03-09 07:24:51 +0200 )edit

@Mike Kaganski: There were misunderstandings obviously. They may not exclusively have occurred on my side. Anyway I want to apologize if I actually missed the proper tone somewhere. Referring to my poor English is not just an elusion. As I try hard you may miss this fact occasionally.
Anyway I want to state now that I wouldn't back the suspicion "invented by amateurs".
With different aspects I best should retire from a discussion here that cannot fruitfully be conducted in an askbot site.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-03-09 11:25:16 +0200 )edit

"TDF doesn't force anyone to implement anything, it's developer who decides that they want to work on this or that."
TDF will not have means to force any voluntary do anything. They also have no means to inhibit any development as long as it is targetting at a private build or at forking off a new brand. They must have a committee deciding about what is allowed to migrate into the official releases branded LibreOffice which surely is a registered and protected trademark.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-03-09 11:47:09 +0200 )edit

Such a steering committee will at least also have to decide the case encouragement vs. dicouragement for developers wanting to start off with a big new project in advance.They wouldn't have any volunteers in development next year if they decided to exclude the results of hundreds of hours of work when already done.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-03-09 11:58:30 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-03-07 10:34:25 +0200

Quikee gravatar image

updated 2017-03-07 10:36:51 +0200

We are experimenting with new UI concepts (1) (2) to make it easier for user to work with the LO as they feel comfortable, but adding new UI options doesn't mean the old one will be removed. Toolbar / Sidebar will still be available and we don't plan to remove it.

BTW. you can choose other options already in LibreOffice 5.3, if you enable experimental features.

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answered 2017-03-08 19:21:21 +0200

Radish gravatar image

I'm of exactly the same mind as you, Mack (OP). That damned ribbon is a disaster of a UI. MS re-designing not because it is an improvement; not because it's actually useful; but because they need to roll-out a new version of Office and Windows so that they can keep the cash rolling in. Rather than do something useful they just change the eye-candy so that the average Joe thinks, "Gosh. I need that." Pile of pish!

I'm going to move to a Win 8.1 system because I found out that it was possible to disable the ribbon in Windows Explorer - if it wasn't possible to do that I wouldn't switch from Win7. When I need to use MS Office I still use Office 2003 because it's the last version of Office without that ribbon crap!

If LibreOffice move to a ribbon without being able to have the, completely uncompromised, fully functional proper menus UI then I'll stick with the last version of LibreOffice that didn't go down that disaster of a route.

The ribbon is just a change to make a new version of something, just to keep the cash rolling in - nothing more and nothing less.

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Asked: 2017-03-07 09:54:34 +0200

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Last updated: Mar 08 '17