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Maybe it’s just as well…

Posted by Preston on 2009-11-07

…that the folks over at OpenOffice have concentrated so much on mimicking interfaces rather than trying to come up with their own interface.

If this is the best that can be achieved, I’m not surprised that OpenOffice takes longer to launch and gets uglier with each iteration. This is not interface design. It reminds me of the Kill-o-Zap gun from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was described thusly in the book:

The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. ‘Make it evil,’ he’d been told. “Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them. If that means sticking all sort of spikes and prongs and blackened bits all over it then so be it. This is not a gun for hanging over the fireplace or sticking in the umbrella stand, it is a gun for going out and making people miserable with.’

I keep hoping this is a joke, but I can’t see anything that suggests it’s anything other than something serious. It’s not a mouse – it’s an obscenity of undesign.

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3 Responses to “Maybe it’s just as well…”

  1. Sebastian Lewis said

    I can only hope it is as functional as it is heinously ugly. 18 buttons seems a bit much but that thing has unlimited uses, if I ever buy a desktop computer I think I’d want the OpenOfficeMouse. At the very least I wouldn’t have to look at it very much.

  2. Preston said

    I will agree that some users may find that level of functionality useful in a mouse. I’d argue though that taking a gesture based approach on a multitouch surface would be better interface design, even if that is personal preference on my part.

    Bearing in mind this isn’t for say, advanced CAD users or advanced industrial design users, but for Office users, I think it’s an example of a product that is not only hideous and a travesty of design, but more importantly, something which is entirely inappropriate for the target user market.

  3. Sebastian Lewis said

    Actually I’d prefer multitouch gestures as well, but the only one [I know of] currently on the market is too flawed* to bother with & the number of gestures it actually supports is incredibly limited compared to the same computer maker’s trackpads.

    I wouldn’t argue it’s a travesty of design without having used one of these though (my expectations however are not high), but tragically hideous it is. It would be nice to try one though, wonder if I can find a shop selling them anytime soon.

    Also, it seems it was designed for gamers initially, not office workers, but the final design (the first product to be released from WarMouse) is supposed to be useful with _any_ application.

    From the about page:

    >“Because gaming mice have historically been designed primarily for FPS games, not MMO and RTS games, they do not possess sufficient buttons for the dozens of commands, actions and spells that are required in games that make heavy use of icon bars and pull-down menus. After discovering that the available World of Warcraft mice were nothing more than regular two-button mice decorated with orcs, dwarves, and Night elves, the idea of the WarMouse was born. After much experimentation, it was determined that 16 buttons divided into two 8-button halves were the maximum number of buttons that could be efficiently used by feel alone.”

    * No I will not lift my index finger to context click. Same reason I didn’t bother with the Mighty Mouse.

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