Thanks for your internet stopover at my little place. The person writing these lines is called Christoph Noack and is currently the co-lead of the OpenOffice.org User Experience project.
If you want to contact me then please feel free to drop me an email.
Mail: christophnoack AT openoffice.org Blog: http://ux.openoffice.org/blog/
Current Areas of Involvement
- Taking part in the OpenOffice.org User Experience project.
- Being a member in the project which aims to improve the user interface of OpenOffice.org. Find more information at the Project Renaissance Wiki Page.
- Trying to improve the current printing in OpenOffice.org. The project is described at the Printerpullpages Wiki Page
Past / Postponed Areas of Involvement
- Helping with the revision of the Notes functionality in Writer. Find more information at the Notes2 Wiki Page.
- Proposal for an UI which allows the direct manipulation or access to Hyperlinks, Smart Tags, Notes etc. Find out more at Direct Manipulation Snippets Wiki Page.
- Thinking of how to improve the Options in OpenOffice.org. See the Improved Options Wiki Page.
- Trying to better interact with the broader community by collection ides. Have a look at the OpenOffice.org Idea Handling Wiki Page.
Community Council Nomination
Since I have been nominated to the Community Council "Product Development Representative", I would like to shed some light on me.
A few words on Christoph Noack.
My name is Christoph Noack, I am 29 years old and I'm living in Germany. Basically, I'm a big supporter of the ideas behind open source software and the incredible communities which help to create something which is really beneficial. Personally, I enjoy running my notebook and my (sometimes picky *g*) media center PC with Linux based distributions. But, more important to me is to enable the growth of knowledge and understanding. In the today's society, some key elements are computers, operating systems, and office suites. When I try to explain people why an office suite is one of the key elements, I try to describe it like "modern paper and pencil" which - at no time - should be a proprietary solution (only). Otherwise, many people wouldn't have access to knowledge, which is so important for the development of freedom. I'm serious about that.
I have been using OpenOffice.org and its predecessors for about 15 years. One of my first products, and still a personal favorite, was StarDraw 2.0 for DOS which made me somehow addicted to products by StarDivision. In 1996 I had the chance to talk with some representatives of that company at the CeBit trade fair. To be honest, I am still impressed by their friendliness and politeness - hey, I was a bothering young boy :-) Fortunately, they offered a demo CD with StarOffice 3.0 which helped me a lot, since I'd previously decided to go for IBM OS/2 which somehow lacked good application software. Unfortunetely, the other office suites I've tried were rather unusable. From that time, StarOffice and later OpenOffice were my favorite choices on different platforms.
Especially during my studies I tried to promote OpenOffice.org. It made me crazy to see how my fellow students suffered from simple problems in some other famous office applications. From experience I can say, that it really helps to support four diploma thesis and several papers to understand how software behaves in certain situations :-) But, this also showed me that less interested people struggled with some of the advanced concepts of OpenOffice.org. They just want to get things done with the software, so I started to provide support in mailing lists and forums for several years.
Although I'm still very interested in technology, I'm sure that helped me a lot to get a better understanding for the needs of a variety of users. As a result, I've become more and more interested in work science and ergonomics being part of my studies. Hence, it is not surprising that I work today in the field of Human-Machine Interaction for a large automotive supplier. But I'm still bound to OpenOffice.org ...
What does Christoph do inside OpenOffice.org?
Currently I am the Co-Lead of the User Experience project which addresses usability, productivity and enjoyment of OpenOffice. One of our main tasks at the moment is Project Renaissance which aims to improve the user interface in OpenOffice.org. Maybe interesting for you: we really try to focus on our whole community, our users. The major part of the development is done by Sun employees, so to me, the most important jobs are to represent and to involve the community. For example, the Design Proposal Collection was something new in the community - especially since I was able to spend some days with the Sun UX team in Hamburg to prepare it. However, I know that there are many areas where we can still improve, but I think we have already made some steps forward :-)
But OpenOffice.org is no island, so it is important to spread the word and to gain insight in other projects. This year, I had the chance to present Project Renaissance at the CeBit trade fair and the LinuxTag. And, also very important to me, I enjoyed to get in touch with people working in other OSS communities. I hope this can be extended in the future...
Besides Project Renaissance, one of the other larger activities is the printing improvements for OpenOffice.org (printerpullpages). Last year, I helped with the new notes in OpenOffice.org Writer (notes2). And the other activities and discussions which happen all the time :-)
What would Christoph do in the Community Council?
The Community Council represents the interests of many individuals and business organizations - both inward and outward. That results in a variety of different questions and required actions. Logically speaking, my first goal is to support any topic of broad interest which is brought into the Community Council. A very positive move is the collection of proposed "project improvements" which I observe since quite a while.
Since you have already spoken of special areas of interest - yes, there are three of them. First, I would like to see an improved transparency with regard to the software development and the underlying decisions (e.g. why does the new/changed feature XY support OpenOffice.org). For example, the last months provided several examples of feature inclusions which were heavily discussed afterwards. Currently I miss a "visible" and commonly agreed strategy which helps us to develop OpenOffice.org more specifically. That doesn't mean that everybody has to agree to certain decisions, but everyone should be able to judge whether it is aligned to our project goals.
A second area of interest is to inspire more people to participate. We already have a very large (user) community, so it would be great to lower the hurdles to get them started. For example, I would love to see a platform for sharing new ideas for OpenOffice.org - getting discussions more focused and again improve the transparency of the product development. I have started to collect some information about that some time ago.
A third area of interest is to steadily improve the communication; especially with the main sponsor Sun Microsystems. Several times I have worked closely with Sun employees - even sitting next to them - and I know that many of them love to cooperate with the community. Sometimes that may be perceived different, because they are bound to "system immanent characteristics" of large business organizations. ;-) I do also work for a very large company, so I know such constraints. But that should not hinder us to identify some issues to make working with the volunteer community a (in a positive manner) "routine" instead of the "option" ... being a basis for beneficial cooperation.
Literally speaking, it is all about people. And that brings me to my first blog posting after becoming the Co-Lead of the User Experience project. I think my goals never changed much, so I would like to refer to it - written about 1,5 years ago. Please decide for yourself whether I meet your personal criteria being a voice in the Community Council :-)
Last but not least, I would like to thank André for the nomination and his trust in me. And if you have any questions, then please contact me...
Thank you for your interest, have a nice day!