OpenOffice tidies up with a Ribbon

10 Aug 2009

Interface change could see the popular open-source Office suite adopt Microsoft's Ribbon

OpenOffice has divided its fan base with a new interface clearly inspired by Office 2007's Ribbon.

Dubbed Project Renaissance the interface retains OpenOffice's traditional drop-down menu approach, but beneath the menu bar there's now a ribbon-type array of icons.

At first glance the OpenOffice ribbon appears a clunky copy of Microsoft's attempt, but project engineer Frank Loehmann has warned the prototype is just to give an idea of the direction of the interface.

"The prototype is a mid-fidelity one. So no polished UI. We just want to be able to test the interaction. Content of the toolbars and the group labelling are subject to change. They show just what can be done in this prototype," he notes.

The interface split opinion among OpenOffice fans, with one commentator on the blog claiming: "Aping the Office ribbon is not a step forward. OpenOffice always seems to follow MS Office and may never succeed. The solution is to jump ahead to the next big thing and skip this UI phase."

However, positive comments have included: "This is likely to make me adopt OpenOffice. I love open-source software, but sometimes commercial software is just more usable. This change of interface is going to remove OpenOffice from my 'I wish I could stand it' list."

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