Platform UI Differences

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While the UI Layout-page shows the conceptual differences between the platforms, it is not possible to create good UI by just high-level changes. This page aims to document the differences in details in the UI (and report the status in Ooo).

Since the current OOo is more-or-less carbon copy of Windows XP GUI on all platforms, this page will not document that GUI at all. Focus is put to the platforms that differ from Windows XP GUI.

Complementary and Related projects

The possible future UI Layout work is complementary and not overlapping with:


Document the differences in Platform specific UIs (e.g. Aqua/Mac OS X, Aero/Vista, Gnome/Linux, KDE/Linux Win32/Windows XP).

Follow the implementation progress with status-tables.

The focus is in stuff expressed in GUI guidelines (e.g. Aqua HIG, Aero xxx, Gnome UI SG,...) and stuff that is standard or preferred way of doing things, as exemplified by high quality applications on each platform (e.g. Apple Pages (iWork) on Mac OS X, MS Word (Vista Office), and Abiword on Gnome)


The following lists and documents the differences in the typical applications used on various platforms, compared to The aim is to show that while there are similarities in these platform-specific applications, and much of the actual functionality is quite similar, the actual UI (i.e. how you accomplish those functions) has differences both on surface and in deeper levels.

Stuff to add (Mac OS X):

  • OK/cancel buttons: ok on the right side (this is also true for Gnome/XFCE on Linux/Solaris, KDE supports both but defaults to the Win32 way)
  • The "jellybean" button that hides the toolbar
  • Blend the toolbar background with the menu bar
Platform specific UI differences
  Mac OS X (Aqua) Windows Vista (Aero) Ubuntu Linux/Sun Java Desktop for Solaris (Gnome)
Application Menu
Where the menu is located

System wide menu in the top of the screen. Contents of the menu depend on which is the active window

Vista Office (Ribbon UI): Merging of menus and toolbars, resulting in tabbed toolbars.
Vista (Aero): In the top of the application window.
In the top of the application window
Icons Aqua-menu-no-icons.png

No icons in the menu
Ribbon: No (regular) menus.
Aero: No icons in the menu
typically icons in the menu (system option)
Main structure
what are the top-level menu items
Apple-button (systemwide), Pages (i.e. the application menu), File, Edit, Insert, Format, Arrange, View, Window, Help. In total: 10 Ribbon/Word: Office-button (similar to "File" -menu), Home, Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review, View. In total: 8. Note: Clearly task-oriented structure File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Bookmarks, Go, Windows, Help see HIG about standard menus
Where the settings are located and what they are called
OOo prefs on macosx2.jpg

Preferences... in the "Application menu" e.g. Pages -menu, accessible with CMD-,
Options... under the Office orb Preferences as last entry in the Editmenu
The default setting
Aqua-toolbar-tn.png full size

10-15 icons (large: 30x30px) with text underneath
Vistaoffice-toolbar-tn.png full size

Ribbon: three sizes. Amounts per tab -
Main actions: 3-11 icons, (large: 35x35px) with text underneath.
Important actions: 3-19 icons, (small: 20x20px) with text on the right side.
Other actions: 0-29 icons, (small: 20x20px) without text.
10-15 icons (size: 24x24px, 48x48 option for accessability) with text underneath as default. Text only or icon only are available as options
How the toolbars are customized
Aqua-toolbar-customize-tn.png full size

Main toolbars are customizable through right clicking, selecting Customize... and then drag-and-dropping. Much of the toolbar functionality in Inspector -tool instead.
Vistaoffice-toolbar-customize-tn.png full size

Ribbon: Main toolbars are NOT customizable. The Quicklaunch toolbar is customisable from its toolbar and from "Customize" in ??? > Options -menu. Shows a dialog.

Not editable / occasionally the same style as Mac OS X. NOTE: Also in Mozilla applications
What the toolbar icons/buttons look like
No surrounding 3D "button" around the icon, colors used sparingly, as few metaphors as possible. Icons have subtle shadow.  ??? No button borders, richer colors, icons in 3D perspective
What the toolbar icons/buttons look like, when clicked
No highlight No visual change in the button Light-bulb highlight buttons look like they are shining Highlights with dark color to show the full button area
Dialogs (and Sheets)
Customize Toolbar
What kind of UI is used?
Opens a Sheet Opens a Dialog N/A or Opens a Sheet
Workflow (Task vs. other)
Interaction styles
Design goals
Target users
What kind of people are the applications designing for?
Normal people who want to make well designed documents with good layout. Not just word processing Word processing for the average Joe, lots of functionality Usability important, clean UI
What is the purpose of the templates?
To learn/get ideas for good style/design, professional quality To have all the templates for all the possible occasions Get the templates you want from the internet repositories
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