Feature - Templates

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Templates are very important for any office suite. Here are some ideas how to improve the current situation on OOo.

iTeam Members

Menu Access


The current menu entry "File/New/Templates and Documents" is a bit confusing because the other entries below "File/New" starts new blank documents of the gicen type. The menu "File/Templates" is too hiden and includes the strange "Address Book" entry.

Proposed Solution

  • "File -> New -> Templates and Documents"
    • change to "File -> From Template..."
  • "File -> Templates"
    • move to the same part of the menu as Wizards
    • "Edit.../Save..."
      • don't we want to do this from normal "Open.../Save As..."?
      • templates are saved into another location and structure but...
      • let's solve this later
    • "Address Book Source..."
      • move to "Tools -> Options"?
    • "Organize..."
      • Eh? - see below


Open Template Dialog


We have a create from template wizard for impress, this is a suitable route for creating a word processor document as well. The existing impress dialog is a bit klunky and doesn't by default contain many examples for openoffice.org. The Apple iWork suite has nice templates and a nice selector widget. So we need a better template dialog like the iWork one, and ideally with the ability to browse an online set of quality controlled templates.

Competitive Analyses

"File -> New" dialog in iWorks:

1 file new dialog.png

Proposed Solution

We can improve the current dialog "Templates and Documents". It includes some questionable entries:

  • the tab "New Document" duplicates the menu entries File/New/*. Note that the dialog is started from this menu.
  • the tab "My documents" duplicates functionality of File/Open
  • the tab "Samples" shows no file by default. I wonder if there are any samples at all. What is the exact difference between a template and a sample?

The new dialog must be clean & easy, yet powerful. It must provide:

  • categories - list box/tree view
  • names/previews - like iWorks?
    • the preview image should be saved to the templates by default; We should be able to create in the fly for the older documents. Note that the functionality is somehow already implemented in Impress. You can see it on the right side (Task Pane) when you select the tab "Master Pages".
  • [Create], [Cancel], [Help] buttons
  • [Open file...] button? - probably yes, we want to be able to start this dialog directly from the desktop
  • [Manage templates] button? - no, can be done from the menu
  • search/filter!
  • tooltip on the preview shows info like creator, date, etc.
    • more can be in the right-click menu
  • templates from web (official or user defined site)?
    • would have the same categories (box/tree)
    • could be merged into the existing tree (would need check box to disable the web access)
    • could be in an extra tab
    • lets solve it later but be prepared, the web is not available now but...
  • [Advanced Search] button?
    • can be used to search by extra informations (author, comments) but also by extra information from the web site (ratings).
  • anything other? - hopefully not

The recent proposal by Kendy:


Edit/Save Template Dialogs


The current dialogs "Files -> Templates -> Edit" and "File -> Templates -> Save" are not symmetric. The first one opens a normal open file dialog that does not shows the translated templates structure. The second one allows to save the files in the current structure but is very confusing.

Proposed Solution

Possible variants:

  • create new symmetric dialogs
  • put the functionality into the normal open/save dialogs

See the references for screenshots and notes about competitors.

Template Organizer


The current template organizer combines too much functionality in one. It is a confusing nightmare. It manages categories, files and styles inside the files at the same time! The available commands in [Commands] change contextually!

Proposed solution

We must split the functionality into more dialogs

  • "File -> Templates -> Organize..."
    • just organize the templates
    • presents with a single tree view with all the templates
    • tooltip on the template name shows the preview
    • [New Category]
    • [Rename], [Delete] - template or category
    • [Insert] - the current "Import template..."
    • offer rename when a template with the same name already exists
    • [Save As...] - the current "Export template..."
    • [Close], [Help]
    • moving in the hierarchy
    • [Set as Default]/[Reset Default]?
      • would be too many buttons
      • a separate File -> Templates -> Defaults...?
      • or Tools -> Options... -> something?
  • File -> Templates -> Styles...
    • we can start with the current "Load Styles" dialog that is accessible from the top right menu in the "Styles and Formating" toolbar and improve its design
    • list box/tree view
    • previews like in the open from template dialog?
    • the question if we could somewhat visualize the load styles components
    • [Close], [Help] - keep
    • buttons [File...], [Address Book...], [Printer settings...] from the original dialog
      • let's just bin these, they are accessible from the menu

The recent proposal by Kendy


Template Categories


OOo currently provides only about 8 categories out of box (hardcoded names in resources). Only 4 are visible by default because the other are empty. We are going to get the existing templates together and prepare a nice gallery, so more categories will be necessary.

Proposed Solution

  • hierarchycal categories
    • maximum level (one, two, ...)?
  • must not be hardcoded in resources!
  • support for 3rd party packages with templates
  • default categories
    •  ?

Localization of Templates


Templates often include many graphics and only few localized strings. There is no easy way to localize templates using .po files.

Competitive Analyses

FIXME: Nothing useful found

Proposed Solution

  • support for "one template for all localizations"?
  • useful for simple ones, but not for more complicated ones; For example, a Czech official letter has a different form than an English one
  • can macros help here?
  • create tools that allow to localize using .po files

Templates on Disk

Official OOo Templates Web Site

Scenario: One place where users can easily find and contribute templates

It would be great to gather all existing templates at one place and create some useful web framework around it:

  • templates can be sorted into groups
  • screenshots and short descriptions
  • users can comment the templates and vote
  • it should be possible to hide poor templates (based on the voting results)
  • users can download only a selected template or all temlates at once
  • force contributors to define license, title, author, really use the template format, ...
  • the structure is well defined, so such (even 3rd party) sites can be online searched by OOo itself
  • also the meta information (license, vote results, ...) should be store a well defined way, so they can be used by the online search from OOo (to filter poor templates, ...)
  • is any extra support for signed templates necessary?

See http://www.kde-files.org/ as an interesting example.

Why a new project?

  1. The existing projects are nearly dead or they are not woldwide known, ...
  2. They do not allow to import the templates easily into OOo

Already existing projects [FIXME]:

templates mostly labels. He has some more plans.

is controversal [Kami is trying to solve the possible Licensing problems], it include many free templates from the other projects Licensing related things: Many templates comes from OOO's Documentation project, OOExtras, OOo's Distibution project

  1. Templates
    1. OOo Distibution's project release a Extras CD (for 2.0.1) where included templates from original StarOffice 5.2 CD that went free - the original owner of these templates (around 18 templates) is http://www.templatezone.com/. I tried to contact with them but my question is still unanswered.
  2. Cliparts
    1. Cisco's Network Topology Icons - Cisco has allowed me to pack their icons with OpenOffice.org. They asked me to warn use to not to modify these standardised iconset. http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac50/ac47/2.html The license is easy and clear: "Cisco icons are globally recognized and accepted as the standard in network icon topologies.Use them freely without alteration."
  3. Fonts
    1. Ray Larabie has allowed me to pack their fonts with OpenOffice.org. He has a different license. His homepage is here: http://www.larabiefonts.com/ - FAQ: http://www.larabiefonts.com/help.html
  • Caolan has a nice selection of tempaltes for Fedora


Screenshots and notes about competitors.

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