Towards a LibreOffice Briefing

This has to be discussed inside the project of course, but perhaps my audience can help with some input :)

Ideally all design and development activities should be based on a briefing, a mission statement with the overarching goal of the project. It’s important to know what you are actually trying to do. Especially in a collaborative project.

While I think I have a reasonable clear picture of the desirable characteristics of a font already (more work to follow), the larger visual design effort needs a strategy, a message, based on the mission.

So what is the most minimal core of a missions statement, what is the essence, the high level goal just a bit more specific than make the world a better place? ;)

A first, rough proposal for a Mission Statement

Develop an office productivity solution and make it and the project itself available to and accessible by a majority of humans.

It follows:

  • Internationalization
  • Given our modern world, there needs to be software
  • Free Software
  • All major platforms
  • Interoperability
    • Open, documented interfaces
    • Open, documented file formats
    • Compatibility with other solutions
  • Collaboration
    • Meritocracy (there needs to be some hurdle for contributing and based on ability*effort is best, if you care about the result)

Notes

I would usually encourage defining an audience as narrow as possible, but it seems the widest possible scope is actually defining for this project. If not, please step forward with definitions of a narrower audience.

The statement is phrased in a way that opens the door for education and non-software bound approaches.

The word develop shall imply optimizing the process and outcome. Best
possible
or optimal would just bloat the statement, as it’s clear that you don’t want an just-acceptable solution. However, it’s not clear what optimal or best possible really means in the end.

But what is an office productivity solution or an office (software)
suite
, actually? How do you define the scope here, short of enumerating the current components? How do you include enough, but not too much?

You could say: the solution must cover:

  • text documents with embedded graphics, from letters to books
  • presentations, including animations, embedded sound and video
  • doing Calculations, including in a tabular fashion (spreadsheet)
  • managing interlinked data and doing queries (relational database)

Long term, both spreadsheets and relational database might be too specific, as they don’t define the actual needs and goals being
addressed. Seeing spreadsheets and relational database as solutions, can you define the problems they solve succinctly?

How to rule out (given we really have/want to):

  • (full-featured) audio and video editing?
  • advanced animation features (think Flash, Synfig)?
  • advanced scientific and engineering needs regarding calculations, including simulations?

Audience

Not many people who can or could use a computer at all can be excluded from the wider audience. The strategy and visual design doesn’t have to try to address everyone, but should rather focus on where it can make a difference.

It is important to note that what LibreOffice has to offer is or should be  interesting to all kinds of organisations, including companies of any size and government agencies. Reliability, continuity and support solutions  are important, here. Think of the impression you want to make and translate it into visual design.

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About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

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