User Experience/ToDo/Competitor Software

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The aim of this page is to provide an analysis of useful features from competitor software.

Competitor Software

  • Adobe InDesign CS3
  • Adobe Acrobat Professional
  • Apple iWorks
  • Microsoft Office
  • IBM Lotus Symphony
  • various web-pages
  • specific controls:
    • Adobe Type Manager: group fonts
  • ... please expand

Useful Features

Table Styles

Virtually every table on the net uses the following specific design:


  • header row: a background color is set
  • table-rows:
    • two alternating backgrounds
    • usually NO hard-borders, but usually light borders
  • highlight current row: interactive programs (aka web) implement this feature, too
  • slightly rounded corners: sometimes a pretty cheap but visually pleasing effect

Competitor Software

  • virtually every web table, including the OOo and Mozilla issue-lists use these web-proven designs.
  • Adobe InDesign CS3:


  • Writer: implement such a table style (NO issue yet filed)
  • Calc: implement a Spreadsheet-Table View, see issue 78181
    • including different header style, alternating background for data-rows and highlight current row
  • Impress: highlight current row/ current area, see issue 79882

Styles & Themes

  • iWork: professional looking styles & themes out of the box
  • MS Office 2007: also professional looking styles & themes out of the box
    • Using these two products you have to almost struggle to create ugly documents
    • No confusion caused by multiple simultaneous pragmas (strong manual editing support vs styles based)
    • Themes format styles automatically, which means extremely easy switching of the whole look
  • OOo is very poor on this area!

Side-by-Side Difference between 2 Documents

Many web-programs allow displaying side-by-side differences for 2 text-streams.


  • compute differences between 2 versions of a document (or even 2 completely different documents)
  • choose difference-sensitivity: text-only, other-objects, formats, ...
  • display the 2 pages side-by-side, when issue 1598 gets implemented.

Competitor Software

  • Adobe Acrobat Professional implements this feature
    • it does a great job (including +/- formatting), even though pdf is such a poor format when it comes to page structure
  • various web-programs/diff's: including mediawiki/wikipedia and many more
  • various text-editors
  • the BLAST-program: see the ncbi BLAST page


See issue 81526 for further details.

Context sensitivity

  • Two types of controls (toolbar or anything else): fixed, which always have the same options; and dynamic, which, depending on the current context, shows different options (like Symphony's side-panel)

Toolbars and tool dialogs

Inspector (Apple iWork)

Apple's iWork has a concept of "Inspector", which is context sensitive, but with static set of tabs/controls.

It's not a toolbar, but a floating window with tabs. See formatting document movie (Quicktime)

So for example you can select one or more graphical shapes (and tex boxes) and set from the inspector their X/Y position on page or their width and height. Also colors for any object (border/fill) can be changed etc.

Contextual Format Bar (Apple iWork)

If more toolbar-like UI is desired, then there's Contextual Format Bar (Quicktime)

Extension Manager

Firefox 3's extension manager has a search box, so the user can search and install a extension direct for the program. This is very easy to use and very productive.

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