Symphony Contribution UX Analysis

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Symphony Contribution UX Analysis

The recent donation of IBM Symphony source code to the Apache OpenOffice community presents both challenges and opportunities to the user experience of OpenOffice products moving forward.

On one hand, the OpenOffice user experience is really good, and many people have worked really hard to deliver a great user experience. On the other hand, the IBM Symphony user experience is also really good. Neither product is better than the other, rather, they are just different.

Diversity presents opportunity. If design is choice, then we have two great products as sources of great user experience design.

While both OpenOffice and Symphony are based on similar core technology, there are many differences between the suites. OpenOffice is a collection of six products, while Symphony is a subset, containing three products. Beyond features and capabilities, the user experience for each offering has strength and weaknesses. The best possible user experience will ultimately be the outcome of migrating and merging the best user experience elements from each of the offerings into a new code base. Features found in one offering, but not the other, present clear and present migration opportunities. Features found in both offerings, present an opportunity to merge the user experience.

The challenge before us is how we choose the best user experience, and how do we allocate scare resources to deliver the best user experience possible for our users.

UX Migration/Merge Considerations

Be mindful of the following considerations when exploring UX migration/merge candidates.

  • when considering migration candidates ensure the proposed user experience elements support our core use cases and tasks
  • when considering merge candidates, be respectful of the effort of your peers who implemented the current implementation
  • where possible, build on our user's existing knowledge
  • seek a consistent, unified experience, but not at the expense of individual contextual needs of individual editors
  • it's OK to take features out if they do not support our core use cases and tasks

UX Migration/Merge Candidate Prioritization

To allocate our scarce design and development resources to deliver the best possible user experience for our users, it is important that we have a strong prioritized road map to move migration/merge UX design and development activities forward. In other words, if design is choice, and we have two great offerings (AOO and Symphony) to choose elements of the user experience from, then what aspects of each offering's user experience are candidates for migration/merge.

To identify migration/merge candidates, we must start with a complete inventory of each editor's capabilities. The goal of the high level editor assessments is to perform an inventory of the Symphony user experience design and identify which aspects of each editor's user experience should be considered for migration/merge with AOO. The output of this assessment is a prioritized list of user experience merge/migration candidates for each editor. These user experience merge/migration candidates (document candidates, presentation candidates, spreadsheet candidates (under construction)) form a prioritized, actionable backlog of user experience migration/merge candidates that the AOO community can explore in greater detail moving forward.

The illustration below shows the attributes used to assess the UX migration/merge candidates. This editor-oriented inventory includes a listing of all tasks and supported uses case for both offerings. Migration/merge candidacy is based on presence in one or both offering. Ranking is cumulative, based on a variety of criteria. Feature or capabilities that realize core use cases rank higher thank less frequent use cases. Features or capabilities that will have a higher impact on the user model rank higher than those that do not impact the user model. The formula has room for subjectivity, but over time and with contributor input, the rankings can be refined. More immediately, these rankings help get us to focus on the key migration/merge candidates.

AOO UX - wiki image - merge migration candidates analysis.png
Illustration 01 - Excerpt from Document Editor - UX Migration/Merge Candidate Prioritization Worksheet

All contributors are encouraged to review these proposed merge/migration UX support priorities. Please consider the line item-level merge/migration priorities (HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW). As seen in green highlighted column in the screen cap above. The intended of this work product is that we agree on the priorities for the UX merge/migration candidates. UX will then explore each individual area in more details.

Document Editor - UX Migration/Merge Candidates Prioritization Worksheet

Presentation Editor - UX Migration/Merge Candidates Prioritization Worksheet

Spreadsheet Editor - UX Migration/Merge Candidates Prioritization Worksheet

  • under development - coming soon

UX Migration/Merge Candidate Analysis

The following collections summarize the key migration/merge candidates as identified in the prioritization worksheets above, for each editor. Common UX reflect capabilities found cross-editor. Detailed UX analysis with migration/merge guidance have been prepared for select candidates. See Symphony Contributions for more details on high priority migration/merge candidates.

Common UX

Document Editor UX

  • Page boundary enhancements
  • Select all enhancements
  • Format paragraph enhancements
  • Format page enhancements
  • Merge document support
  • Mail merge enhancements
  • Rule selection feedback
  • Connector support
  • Paragraph tabbing support
  • Section creation enhancement
  • Page numbering enhancements
  • TOC jump enhancements
  • Memorize the file path when inserting objects into editors

Presentation Editor UX

  • Speaker note enhancements
  • View selection tab bar styling
  • Slide view thumbnail presentation enhancements
  • Connector support
  • Copy objects with animation
  • Slide show multiple displays support
  • Scroll bar progressive disclosure
  • Resume slide show after switching to other applications support
  • Tab key support to insert table row support
  • Additional insert slide triggers
  • Title and master page support
  • Create new slides from file support
  • Better animation effects and interoperability with Microsoft PPT files
  • Start slideshow from current slide hot key support
  • Linked spreadsheet support

Spreadsheet UX

  • Worksheet tab selection tab bar styling
  • Row and column header visual styling
  • Row and column sorting support
  • Drag and drop row and columns support
  • Data pilot enhancements
  • Field option dialog enhancements
  • Excel wildcard character support
  • Import external data enhancements
  • Instant filter support

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