CyberTech Rambler

March 21, 2006

Evolution of Office Application UI

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:48 am

There are some screenshots available of Office 12 UI. In it, the biggest breakthrough that was highlighted is Contexture Tab. If I understand it correctly, it means your menu items (or tabs) changes with every click of the mouse, i.e., as and when you select different items. Anyway, if it does not, I am still taking about the ever changing menu that seems to me will change according to what one’s mouse do.

Good concept, but it is going to cause a lot of support problem as I no longer know where the menu items are. With Office 12, my menu items (OK, OK, tabs) is going to depend on what Office guess my usage is. What if it guessed wrongly? I hope my menu items are not depending on the breadcrumb trail I left behind as I click, or otherwise I will be having bigger problem with menu. In other words, with a changing menu, the learning curve just got a lot more steeper.

All in all, PJ is right, we need to relearn the UI again. I think this is part of the problem that Microsoft is facing from competition from OpenOffice.org. As retraining is necessary to use Office 12, why not take the plunge and try out OpenOffice.org instead?

Since this post is about evolution of Office Application UI, I need to talk about what I think is in store for new office applications and my excitment about it. The KOffice has just announced its winner of the KOffice UI Compeition. The winning entry is indeed a revolutionary way of looking at document creation. It lays bare the document creation process. If it can be turned into a useable interface, it will really change the way people thinks about creating documents, allowing novices to quickly create and customize Table of Contents, Index etc.

I am going to assume that by clicking on the individual “papers” in the UI, I can get to the specific pages.

The beauty with this UI layout is that I can stick “post-it” notes for other authors or myself, and the UI can present me with instructions and “HowTo”s unobstrusively and elegantly. I cannot wait to see the end of “Callout” boxes for comments or separate window for Help pages. Even better if the KOffice team can make “Helps” and “HowTo” simply justanother “post-it” notes.
I would love to see the UI implemented. This is a much better concept than Contextual Tabs. Nonetheless, we must realize that Contexture Tabs is a reality, while the UI winning entry is still in concept stage.

I think we are indeed seeing a gigantic shift in Open Source Office Applications. They had all matured nicely and no longer playing catch-up to mainstream Office Applications. The necessary basic works had completed. As such, they are thinking boldly about redesigning the application itself. I think we are indeed going to see an revolution in office software in the next few years. I cannot wait!

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1 Comment »

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