Since the announcement of the Renaissance project we noticed that people are interested in general topics which are discussed repeatedly in e.g. discussion forums. This FAQ lists common questions and the corresponding answers - considering the current status of the project. If any common question seems to be missing, then please contact the Renaissance team at the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list.
Will the result of Renaissance look like product XYZ? (e.g. Microsoft Fluent "Ribbon")
Not in general, maybe single parts. From experience it is known that UX professionals tend to develop similar solutions if there are similar problems and constraints.
Concerning Microsoft Fluent (known as "Ribbon" in Microsoft Office 2007), Microsoft has started to patent this user interface concept. As far as we know, if anybody uses the concept for office applications, then licence fees have to be paid. Additionally, it has not yet been proven that this concept represents the optimum for our users.
Will the future UI provide theming capabilities?
Maybe. Even the current OpenOffice.org provides theming capabilities to archive a high level of consistency across all the platforms (e.g. the user interface controls, icon themes). Furthermore, the Renaissance team has the impression that the concept of theming is somehow misunderstood. Theming mainly has influence on how software will look - it won't change how software behaves. The scope of Project Renaissance, however, is making the UI behave better, e.g. by better understanding the work flow of users.
Will the future UI be configurable?
Yes, to a certain extend. This is a basic criteria by government and enterprises to adapt the functionality of OpenOffice.org to their user's needs, add some specific features or to lock down some "critical" functionality.
Are there any mockups or preliminary designs available? Where can I find them?
No and yes at the same time. No, there is no final design available which will get implemented. We currently focus on collecting ideas, prototyping basic concepts and evaluating them. So, yes, you may find numerous pictures and prototype applications which represent early concepts which may (heavily) change. You may find more information about what to expect when on the Renaissance Roadmap. It is generally a good idea to start with the main page for Renaissance when you search for some early designs.
The prototypes: They look unpolished! And why are they lacking basic functionality?
The Renaissance team published prototypes (see Prototyping), so called mid-fidelity prototypes, to gather feedback from users on the newly developed interaction ideas. Currently the focus is to evaluate basic interaction principles which results in non-final toolbar designs and button positioning, missing icons and a plain look. This is either intended or - since the prototype shares no substantial amount of code with the real product - caused by focusing on the tasks which highly require testing. The tasks which are currently most interesting are documented in the section Tasks to support. Less important for gathering feedback (!) are things like context menus or configuration capabilities; these are well known and considered to be required anyway, so they will definitely be available in the final product implementation. So don't worry at the moment :-)