Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ideal Office UI

I just spent a big chunk of time trying to add a header to only some of my pages in a document in OpenOffice.

In the end, it wasn't too hard: Insert a page break using the menu, not ctrl+enter. That insert page menu allows you to select a new style for your new pages. If you do so, the headers on the new section won't infect the old section or vice versa.

The slowest part of this process was bouncing between the help article and the document. So I propose the following new Office UI. Instead of any menus, just throw an empty text box up top. Type in a command, like "rotate" or "landscape" or "print preview" or "preview" or "bold" and a list of suggestions will drop down, like in FF's AwesomeBar. Commands should have plenty of aliases. Pressing Enter before a command is selected will load more information on commands related to what you typed, maybe with an option to add what you typed as an alias for another command.

Commands will also take modifiers. Typing "bo" will bring up "bold", "borders" and I don't know, "boil" or something. You can tab to select "bold", then you get to type "selection" or "next/previous x characters/sentences/lines/paragraphs/pages" or "page x" or "instances of (wildcard)". "Selection" will probably be the default noun for most commands, but "Current page" or "Whole Document" might be the default for some layout options.

The better iteration might even have no menu bars above your work window, but a command box that pops up when you hit the menu key, or win/super key.

I can see the UI revolution approaching! Somebody call Aza Raskin.