OpenOffice Writer UX Warts

The more I play with OpenOffice.org’s Writer, the more confused I am by some of the odd UI/UX warts in it. Here are the ones that are on my mind this morning:

  • When I press F11 to bring up the Style Picker list, why does typing letters not navigate me through that list? Why do I have to use the down-arrow to navigate to “Heading 1”, rather than just typing “he” and then Enter?
  • Once I do hit Enter to apply the style I’ve chosen, why does the picker window remain open even though my cursor focus has returned to the document? This is the worst of both worlds: part of the document I’m working with is obscured by the picker window, and now I have to hit F11 twice in order to apply another style. If the window went away, I could just hit F11 once to bring it up the next time I wanted to apply a style.
  • And, for the love of all that’s sane, why are the styles not sorted correctly? Seeing this:

    Heading 1
    Heading 10
    Heading 2
    Heading 3


    is not just cheesy and amateurish, it also costs me extra work every time I want to select a heading style other than Heading 1.
  • When I’m trying to set up a new keystroke shortcut, why is that I can use Ctrl+[digit] and Ctrl+[alpha], but I can’t use the Ctrl+. or Ctrl+, combinations? Nor can I use square brackets. Ah, but I can use Ctrl++, Ctrl+-, and Ctrl+/ if I want… and I can use Ctrl+* and Ctrl+Shift+8. (I haven’t yet checked to see what happens if I have those assigned to different things.)
  • And I can’t use any combination that involves the Alt key. Not Alt+[digit]; not Ctrl+Alt+[key], and not Shift+Alt+[key]. This means the number of available keystroke shortcuts is painfully small compared to what I’m used to in MS Word.

Okay, I just finally made a reference to MS Word. I know OO.o Writer is not MS Word, and there are things that I should expect to be different. I haven’t said a thing about using F11 instead of Ctrl+Shift+S to bring up the Style Picker. But honestly, having fewer than half as many possible key-bindings? That’s not a case of “we do it differently here; get used to it”, that’s a case of “this is flat-out worse than the competition”.

Or is there a good reason for ignoring the Alt key that I haven’t thought of? If so, please let me know.

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