Donnerstag, 15. September 2011

Personal Hackfest 2011 Summary

Almost two weeks ago, we had our LibreOffice Hackfest in Munich. It's time for a personal summary what happened there, because my involvement was rather providing functional design improvements than committing patches (besides the logo).

But before I start, I want to say thank you to all those who helped to make that a unique event (e.g. the organizers, the City of Munich, the Café Netzwerk people) ... to all the friends I haven't seen such a long time ... and to Italo who prepared excellent pasta.

Now some of the stuff we've worked on ...

Header / Footer Handling (Writer)

Some of you may have noticed the headers/footers handling work by Cédric. The original issues were:
  • Users often selected page background pictures (think watermark) instead of text. Usually, such background pictures are anchored in the header/footer of a page.
  • User sometimes change the header/footer content on one page without knowing that this will have impact on other pages.
There are more issues that got resolved, but you're prolly interested how the solution looks like at the moment. Here is a "brushed up" screenshot of what Cédric is working on:

I don't want to reveal more ... due to time constraints I was unable to add a Whiteboard for the discussions. So either test a daily build, wait for another blog post, or dive into the extensive discussion at libreoffice-ux-advise.

Page Range Improvements (Calc)

Calc already features advanced "named ranges" (or "named expressions", as the developers prefer to say) since LibreOffice 3.4. But, a reasonable user interface to manage these ranges is still missing.

Markus was so kind to spend quite some time to discuss this issue - and he is already working on bringing that into LibreOffice. Although we need to resolve some open (one even fundamental) question, you may get all the updates on the: Calc Range Names Whiteboard page.

A (still in work) teaser:

This proposal is currently in review by Kohei, Eike, Markus ... thanks to you guys!

Improving the Extension Installation Experience

One of the very first contributions within this community was to review a specification of the "Extension Manager" some years ago ... already from a User Experience perspective. The more I was happy that Christian, one of the developers, proposed to work on "proper error reporting for erroneous OXT/ extension folder (missing files, missing keys, more specific and understandable errors)".
In the very first step, he thought about providing detailed insights why installing an extension might fail - which helps developers to debug extensions. But then we've discussed some ideas how to make such error messages also more helpful for less experienced users. For example, having easy-to-understand texts, having clues who developed the extension, how to provide feedback if the installation went wrong, ...
I'm curious with what he will come up with ;-)

Reworking the Options

The initial question from Regina and Reinhard was "How can we improve the understandability between document only vs. LibO settings?" A tough question, because I once tried to answer that question in the activity Improved Options in OOo times.

After some further discussion (and more ideas what should be improved) we came to the conclusion that it is required to to collect the information of all the available options first - from technical details to number of use. Currently, we try to figure out how to do that ... I hope that Astron (who started a similar activity some weeks ago) and others will join.

And there was much more ... for example the "how to better interact with the developers". That's something for another post, so let's take some breath now.

A more complete list of achievements by all participants is available in the wiki.