One of the pivotal moments in the recent history of free software is when a small group of coders got fed up with the slow, buggy mess that was Mozilla, cut down and rewrote the code and created what eventually became Firefox.
Almost from the moment it appeared, the svelte and lissom Firefox-to-be galvanised the community in a way that Mozilla never did. The creation of the SpreadFirefox site provided a focus for that groundswell of enthusiasm, and the result today is that Firefox is now hovering around 20% market share worldwide, and over 30% in Europe.
Against that background, OpenOffice.org is still closer to the Mozilla than the Firefox stage. Although its basic code is solid, and its functionality good, OpenOffice.org is simply not loved by most users in the same way that Firefox is. Maybe this will take it to the next level:
Project Renaissance, to rethink the graphical user interface (GUI) and interaction of OpenOffice.org, was announced on OOoCon 2008 and has been officially launched this week. Renaissance is a long running project and will start from scratch, so please do not expect to see something in OOo 3.1.
Why do we run this project?
OpenOffice.org users complain about its cumbersome and outdated graphical user interface (GUI)
A great deal of functionality is hidden in many overstuffed toolbars, poorly structured menus and complex dialogs
Functions are thus difficult to access for novice users or too inefficient to use for expert users
In addition, the GUI offers an antiquated look & feel which is hardly capable to communicate innovation and to create joy of use
“Create a User interface so that OpenOffice.org becomes the users' choice not only out of need but also out of desire.”
... to know and to understand our users as they are, and to help them accomplish what they want to, by providing efficient access to valuable functionality through a desirable user interface.