February 18, 2012

LibreOffice update

I'm not going to apologize for complaining about the terrible, awful, horrible, no good, very bad experience I had when I decided to give LibreOffice a try. It was abysmal and improving that experience should be a top priority for that team if they care about expanding LibreOffice beyond the few Linux users who get it pre-installed. But, I do think I could have done more to propose fixes rather than just rant about the brokenness of the experience so I've done just that.

I read through almost all of the LibreOffice bugs relating to the website, the installer, and the java dependencies and I've filed new bugs where appropriate and added comments to existing bugs as well. If you'd like to follow along, here are the bug reports.

Bug 44585 - "Download" button should auto-detect OS and language and initiate download of the latest release version
Bug 46269 - remove icons and older versions from download page, offer direct links for all OSes and languages
Bug 46267 - provide a lightweight stub installer with app selection
Bug 46268 - re-order LibreOffice Program Group on Windows
Bug 31354 - Message that JRE is missing and required pops up multiple times on first run

Posted by asa at 6:43 PM


reactions, thoughts, comments, etc.

See, this is why you rawk dude. It makes you part of the cure, not the disease.

Posted by: Devon | February 19, 2012 6:03 AM

Way to go!

Posted by: Aitor | February 19, 2012 9:40 AM

In bug 46269,
comment #2, it is written:

"it's intended that we offer (at least) 2 Versions."

That, I do not understand. If I clicked a big "Download Libre Office", why would I want to download a version which is not the latest stable release version?


Another logic design issue is that the download page has not only meaningless icons but also incoherent, inconsequent text to read. If I clicked a big "Download [Software Name]" on any page, then it is because I want to download it.


1- to tell me in a download page
"Before downloading, please check the system requirements"
is awkward and inconsequent. At best, a link to system requirements should be less present (than right in the middle of download-operations-to-do+read text). Ideally, I should have been offered to read the system requirements on the previous page, on the page that had the big bright green "Download Libre Office".

2- to tell me in a download page
"You might also want to look at about the new features"
is awkward, late and brings me to think "Hey, as soon as I download and install it, I will be looking at all its features". Same thing here: there is already a link in the bright green navigation bar about 3.4/3.5 features, releases notes, etc.
Ideally, I should have been formally offered/invited to read the new features on the previous page, on the page that had the big bright green "Download Libre Office".

3- "Libre Office is distributed under this [bad link text name too] license" clogs, jams furthermore the reading of the page. Again, all I would like to do is download the software: my intents are clear since I clicked that big "Download [Software Name]" on the previous page. The bright green navigation bar already duplicates the purpose of such text.

4- "Download the source code to build your own installer",
"Download the SDK for developing extensions and external tools"
are also, in my opinion, not ideal to have in a download software page.

(en-US - English (US)): why not replace all this with:
(English US) ?

The more there is to read in a download page, the less successful such a page is going to be.

Gérard Talbot

Posted by: Gérard Talbot | February 19, 2012 11:38 AM

2 other comments on what you wrote. I need to quote you first (between curly braces):

what's this other file. "LibO 3.5.0 Win x86 helppack en-US.msi". Do I need "helppack"? Is that just help documentation? Is it a "helper" pack with additional features? Why is it a separate download instead of an option in the primary download. Well, I'll go ahead and download it and if I need it later I'll have it on disk ready to install.

The download page should make it clear and explicit what such helppack is and it does not.

And you also ask a relevant question: why not make the help documentation part of the download.

So, downloading .... downloading .... Is 200MB really necessary? I suppose there's a lot in there. I really only want the Word and Excel equivalents. Maybe they could have offered a small download that let me pick components and then only fetch the ones I need? OK. Download complete. (...)

Often, websites offering softwares or huge documentation files with large filesize (say, above 10MBytes) will not only indicate the filesize but also the estimated time of download based on the user's connexion. This gives more leeway and control to the users. If the download estimated time is estimated to be 2 hours, then people may reconsider or postpone or whatever. E.g. Microsoft's Windows Update indicates estimated download time for each of its download.

The estimated download time for the user based on his/her connexion can be useful and it will be relevant contextual information.
Not everyone is on highspeed broadband or cable. People living outside big cities must use satellite dish and connexion may not be high speed and/or may not be very stable.

Gérard Talbot

Posted by: Gérard Talbot | February 25, 2012 2:48 PM

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