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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)…

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.

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

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.

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.

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, “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.

@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.

About the patents that Microsoft may claim for the ribbon UI:
Tabbed menus have been around for a long time.

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.

For those who seem to prefer a different interface you could look at the new NOTBOOKBAR interface available to try in LIBREOFFICE 5.3. Its internal development name is Muffin. See Ribbon interface for more information. The team would welcome feedback.

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.

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