Feature - Templates

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Revision as of 15:49, 31 August 2006 by Pmladek (Talk | contribs)

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

Easier access from menu


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..."?
      • let's solve this later
    • "Address Book Source..."
      • move to "Tools -> Options"?
    • "Organize..."
      • Eh? - see below


Better 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:


Better Edit/Save Template dialogs

Scenario: User wants to modify an existing template or create a new one

The current dialogs File/New/Templates and Documents and File/Templates are a bit confusing. The main problems are already described at http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=20676


Scenario: A vendor wants to distribute a couple of temlates nicely sorted that can be added to OOo easily

OOo should support hierarchical categories with more than one level. The default hierachy should be defined by upstream. The categories should be extensible by 3rd party packages. Such extra categories could have localized names.

One solution would be to use the .directory desktop entry defined by [1]

OOo is quite XML based. I wonder if there exist any similar standardized solution based on xml.

Localization of templates

Scenario 1.: A template includes many graphics and only few localized strings

Scenario 2.: A vendor wants to localize tempaltes using .po files

The following features would help:

  1. Allow to install language independent templates.
  2. Allow to auto-translate the XML for their templates on load. This is used in MS Office and it could save a lot of space. Any better approach is welcome. There must stay the possibility to keep lang dependant layout. For example, various countries use different layout for letters. We should also pay attention to RTL vs. LTR.
  3. Create easy tool that allow to update localizations using .po files.

TODO: Investigate how it is done in MS Office

Hmm, I am somewhat unable to find anything useful about localizing templates online in MS Office. A short note about something simmilar can be found at [2], see the section "Localizing Document Text".

It seems that MS Office includes some few general templates by default. Many others can be download from a localized site. If you repace "en-gb" with "de-de" in the URL, you get the german localization. It seems that there are extra templates for each localization. They are NOT multilingual and are NOT localized on load.

It is pity. IMHO, the multilingual templates would be good only for distributors that would like to distribute the templates on CD/DVD (disk space). It will not be so great for web access. If all the localized strings are in one file, the download would be greather. If the localized strings are in extra files, it would need to define dependencies between the files, ... and it would make the manipulation with templates more complicated.

On the other hand, We could add the support for templates with localizations in the external file. The tempalate with the single localization can be done on load or already on download ;-)

In each case, we should create tools that would extract/merge the strings, so they can be localized using .po files.

Site with OOo templates

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
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