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OpenOffice.Org demos ribbon-style UI prototype

A few days ago, OpenOffice.Org's Renaissance Project introduced a new prototype UI. Predictably, the similarity to Microsoft's Ribbon did not go unnoticed by commenters. "The Office ribbon sucks. Please don't copy it," reads one reply.

It's important to note that this is just a prototype. As OOO's Frank Loehmann notes in his post, "We just want to be able to test the interaction. Content of the toolbars and the group labeling are subject to change. They show just what can be done in this prototype. This allows us to create UX tests that can be run with current OOo and
the prototypes."

If you want to try out the new interface yourself, there's a Java Web Start version of Impress with the new UI applied that you can test.

Personally, I've become a fan of ribbon-style interfaces. It took a little while for them to grow on me, but that's to be expected with such a major change. The only thing I don't like is the amount of vertical real estate they take up on widescreen monitors. Even that isn't a big problem, since most apps allow you to minimize or hide the ribbon with a hotkey.

What do you think of the prototype? Is it a misstep or a step in the right direction?

Tags: gui, interfaces, openoffice, prototype, ribbon-interface, ui