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KOffice GUI Competition Winner 204

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the community-makes-it-better dept.
Boudewijn Rempt writes "The KOffice GUI Competition has been won by Martin Pfeiffer. His entry was chosen from eighteen submissions by the jury because of its innovative, ground-breaking approach to workflow and document handling. Many submitters broke away from the beaten path and explored wild and wonderful ideas. The results page also has all submitted entries available for review."
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KOffice GUI Competition Winner

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  • by scenestar (828656) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:34PM (#14855041) Homepage Journal
    sure, it might enhance productivity, but if you want an MSFT office killer you need the pretty visuals to win people over.
    • That's why everybody's first choice is Yahoo for searches, and Google's been forgotten!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05, 2006 @09:24PM (#14855363)

        It's not about pretty versus functional, it's about immediate satisfaction versus long-term gain.

        The quality of a search engine is immediately apparent. You either find what you are looking for or you don't.

        The productivity of an office suite isn't immediately apparent. If it saves you a few hours per month, then the average person won't notice.

        The prettiness of an office suite, on the other hand, is immediately apparent. The average person can load it up and go "ooh" or "ugh" straight away.

        The OP's point stands: it's not about who's better, it's about who can impress the average end-user immediately. In the case of office suites, this is manifested as "prettiness wins". In the case of search engines, this is manifested as "relevant results win".

        • Not 100% true. I've had apps that were "pretty" but a whole lot less useful. In fact, quite often in many applications the prettiness (windows zooming around, animated icons, annoying bloody paperclips) gets in the way of the actual functionality.

          For example, I've been reliving the "good ol' days" with ZSNes and GSnes (GSnes being a snes9x frontend). ZSnes has an interfaces which is independent of my windowing environment, so it doesn't get any of the fancy KDE/etc decorations etc. However, on closer inve
      • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:26AM (#14856234) Journal
        That's why everybody's first choice is Yahoo for searches, and Google's been forgotten!

        Geeks believing Yahoo is pretty is the reason we have ugly UI's on Linux. :-)
    • Have you ever seen the crap most stores, banks, warehouses use?

      The software they run U G L Y.

      Blue background and gray text... perhaps so you won't notice when you BSOD. My local bank is using software originally programmed for Win95 machines.

      A lot of data entry and POS (point of sale) software looks horrible outdated, but it gets the job done. Go Figure.
      • I'd guess (hope?) that many of those software packages had gone through extensive usability testing, and the reason for the garish colours was that it minimizes eye strain for the poor people staring at them for 8 hours a day.

        Also, kind of interesting your bank uses software programmed for Win95 - I thought most banks used OS/2 :)
        • by biglig2 (89374) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @10:14PM (#14855483) Homepage Journal
          No, it's because when a serious bank, warehouse, or whatever finds an application that works, they leave it the hell alone. Suppose they do an upgrade. One of two things will happen:
          1) New version still works, and looks nicer.
          2) New version no longer works.

          The benfits on 1 do not outway the disaster of 2.
          • outway is my new favourite word of the deigh ;)
            • Heh, got me! One of the many perils of posting to Slashdot when in bed. (My gf can provide a lis tof the others if you like)

              You know, for years I used to genuinely think that the word "outage" was actually spelt/pronounced "outrage".
          • Which is also the reason that when they finally do move, it's from the stone age and a major undertaking. That can be both client-side, and when they finally decide to get rid of that COBOL backend.

            Now, if I was starting a new platform today I'd look for cross-platform compatibility (thick client) and web applications (thin client), but if you're wondering why businesses aren't doing that today - well it many cases it's decisions made in the 1990s or 1980s or perhaps even older.
        • Diebold software on some Windows variant at the banks here ... only know because you can see them booting up every few weeks when the ATMs die.
      • Presumably it's because they're used to it. Some word processor in the early 90s made white-on-blue almost a standard -- was it an early version of WordPerfect, or was it Word? I forget. Anyway, it's still an option in current versions of Microsoft Word (Tools - Options - General), and you can set OOo up that way too if you want, though that requires a bit more effort. Anyway, yuck.
    • In that case, I don't want an Office killer. I want something lean and fast. Seems that's becoming more and more rare these days.
      • by Nutria (679911) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @09:32PM (#14855379)
        In that case, I don't want an Office killer. I want something lean and fast.

        Emacs on a Sun3 !!!!!
      • I want something lean and fast. Seems that's becoming more and more rare these days.

        No, software doesn't wear out. When new software with bells and whistles is released, it adds to the amount of choices available to you, but nobody's forcing you to install the new apps.

        In the office software arena, there are plenty of lightweight apps and suites if you're prepared to look. Abiword, Sphygmic spreadsheet, Siag office, the Softmaker suite or even Ragtime, for some definitions of lightweight...
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:05PM (#14855144) Homepage Journal
      sure, it might enhance productivity, but if you want an MSFT office killer you need the pretty visuals to win people over.

      What you need is "can't live without it once you've used it" features that aren't available elsewhere. I would have to say, after reading through his PDF submission, that, at the very least, there is the beginnings of a much more overview and workflow oriented approach to working with office documents that could be exceptionally powerful. Yes it needs to be implemented well and have decent scope. Ideally some manner of workflow view for an entire corpus of related documents - reports, spreadsheets, presentations, the lot - would be ideal. It takes a little imagination to see the full possibilities, but I think they really might be on to something here, and I am keen to see the final results.

      Jedidiah.
      • much more overview and workflow oriented approach to working with office documents that could be exceptionally powerful.

        I am enthusiastic that people are working on new ways of producing documents. An application with a whole new approach might help in making encroachments on Microsoft's monopoly. However, given that Microsoft tends to "innovate" by copying other peoples' ideas, once a new approach is settled on and produced, it might be a good idea to obtain a patent and assign ownership to one of the open
  • Check it out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Life700MB (930032) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:34PM (#14855042)

    It's a pity the real poor coverage KOffice gets in the web compared to OpenOffice, being a really cool suite with great programs. It deserves a lot of respect what are they doing.


    --
    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
    • Re:Check it out (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:07PM (#14855145)
      Its a pity KOffice only runs on *nixes (afaik).

      OpenOffice runs on Windows and OS X.

      Given most computers run on Windows, that translates to more coverage. You want to slingshot KOffice into the limelight with OO.org port it to Windows.

      It would also help Mass., with its ODF migration.

      • Re:Check it out (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SirTalon42 (751509) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:15PM (#14855173)
        KOffice 2.0 (to be released for KDE4) will be able to run natively on X11, Windows, and OS X (no X server layer on OS X I believe).
        • I am eagerly waiting for the day when I would be able to run kde natively on windows. That would be sweet:) cygwin port of kde is ok but rather slow. http://kde-cygwin.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
        • Sounds great. Regular OOo is not an option for OS X as it relies on X11 and NeoOffice is dog slow. If KOffice 2.0 will have a native interface and not run in slow motion I'll throw away NeoOffice in an instant. No more conversations like this: "Could you please look up that value for me?" - "Sure. let me just start NeoOffice... Wait, it's loading. Don't go away. It's almost there. There, it has opened a window, see? Now I'll just open the file and wait a couple seconds... There it is. Hey, where have you go
      • Saying that OpenOffice runs on OS X is technically true, but somewhat stretching things. OpenOffice runs in X (not the native Quartz/Aqua). It doesn't support drag and drop / copy and paste with the rest of the OS nicely, and it doesn't even come close to conforming to the platform's human interface guidelines.
    • Same for the GNOME Office programs, currently Abiword, Gnumeric and GNOME-DB. Abiword recently implemented collaborative editing via Jabber. Personally, I find Koffice and GNOME Office better than Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. Just need a good presentation program now.
      • Well, AbiWord has a Windows version as well, and I know that there are many Windows users who use it for the leanness.
      • Just need a good presentation program now.

        I have a feeling you could build a very powerful presentation program out of the Inkscape codebase. It is, of course, well beyond my meager skillset (or available time) to do such a thing (hence my short and simple hack to make Inkscape useful for the LaTeX presentations I do now), but I would imagine that if a group of people got serious then quite a lot could be achieved.

        Jedidiah.
    • It's a pity the real poor coverage KOffice gets in the web compared to OpenOffice, being a really cool suite with great programs.

      There is exactly one reason I don't use KOffice over OpenOffice.org: printed fonts look absolutely horrible. Specifically, the kerning is so awful that the results are sometimes unreadable. I'm not some hyper-nitpicky font fan, but an average user who wants his output to look nice - and KWord can't do it. There is absolutely no way I'd submit a resume or other important docum

  • The actual proposal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x o x y . n et> on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:39PM (#14855062) Homepage Journal
    If anyone else was looking for the guy's actual proposal that was submitted to the competition, this is it:

    http://www.koffice.org/competition/gui1results/mar tin_pfeiffer.pdf [koffice.org]

    Frankly I think a lot of what he suggests strike me as rather "duh" concepts -- things which ought to be rather obvious but are ignored in some of the major office suites. I'm not sure how I feel about an application having a "desktop" which is separate from the actual OS' desktop; it seems like it would lead to a situation where every application has its own desktop, possibly with conflicting UI metaphors, and that's not a good end result for the user.
    • by critter_hunter (568942) <critter_hunter@ h o t m a i l .com> on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:47PM (#14855092)
      StarOffice 5 (and possibly other versions) had an internal desktop and it was mind-numbingly useless.
      • Internal desktop (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sinewalker (686056) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @10:36PM (#14855531) Homepage
        Well, I agree that the internal desktop (and the MDI interface model in general) sucks, but is it a bad idea, or is it just an unworkable implementation of a good idea? The good points of the internal desktop were that the different document types could be made to work together in a fasion that the OS doesn't seem able to do (the office suite is able to get at the meta-data and internals of your documents, and facilitates good indexing and integration of the documents -- but the OS just shows you filename/type/size and a date). The bad points are that the "Office" desktop and the "Real/OS" desktop are as seperate from each other as the "Physical" desktop items that your computer sits upon. So if you have a document that isn't produced from one of the suite's programes, it becomes difficult to locate and use it in the office desktop. I would like to see the some of the ideas from SO5 and the winner's proposals migrate into the actual OS desktop. Unfortunately that would mean sharing meta-knowledge of the documents between the OS and the office apps, and would effectively end the cross-platform goals for KOffice and OOo.
        • Well KOffice has the advantage of having its own desktop environment to work with.

          Without KDE it could just not have those features, and on it use them. If I am not mistaken the KDE team has already integrated some stuff into KDE that the OS is unaware of (in removable media)
          • exactly what i thought. koffice should not create it's own desktop, but instead use what is offered by kde already (maybe integrating in pager thingies slightly more, maybe interacting with the desktop through superkaramba).

            it's disadvantage (close ties with kde, which have so far limited it to *x only) could be turned in serious advantage over other office suites that do not have such a connection with desktop environment (ms actually already are using methods to integrate with os better by reusing compone
      • If you were setting up a machine to be used just as an office workstation then you could just launch StarOffice from xinitrc (or set it as the shell in Windows), which was quite convenient.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      it seems like it would lead to a situation where every application has its own desktop, possibly with conflicting UI metaphors, and that's not a good end result for the user.

      That would [protopage.com] never [palm.com] ever [chrischandler.com] happen [google.com].
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:59PM (#14855125) Homepage Journal
      I'm not sure how I feel about an application having a "desktop" which is separate from the actual OS' desktop; it seems like it would lead to a situation where every application has its own desktop, possibly with conflicting UI metaphors, and that's not a good end result for the user.

      I think you need to view it less as the application having its own desktop so much as the office suite having a "workflow" view. There's plenty of space in the office suite market for such an overview option, particularly if it can provide a workflow overview of a inter-related corpus of various documents (spreadsheets, presentations, reports, etc.) as well as just a single document. Think in terms of how Aperture is a workflow oriented overview for photographers and imagine a workflow oriented overview for office workers. I think there's plenty of scope for dramatic improvements there.

      Jedidiah.
    • by Ecko7889 (882690)
      I did in fact read the entire PDF. It was interesting read with some very technical details. Alot of the information is very relevant to working on a document. A lot of users only use the icons as a source of editing. If they can't find the icon, they have to go wander through menus, which cause some hassle. I would like to be able to see more drag and drop functions. He stated in his PDF that he would like to integrate the concept of "desk space". Mimic how you would handle many documents spread out on you
      • actually, oo.org had a couple on novel concepts (like toolbars changing upon context), but they were changed to more mso-like because some of new users complained about the differences from the concepts they were already familiar with.
    • I think it is pretty clear that what an "Office" suite should do is provide direct manipulatable virtual analogs of pages that you can move around on your virtual desktop. Not a desktop that is in a window, but the actual desktop which is completely underutilized in every operating system currently in existance. The "application" should be transparent. It should enable the manipulation of the objects you're interested in working on.
    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @10:40PM (#14855549)
      I'm hugely disappointed; I sent my PDF entry to three email addresses, even contacted Ingwa on IRC for confirmation of receiving my entry, and it's still not shown on the results page. I wonder if they ever received it.

      I don't know if my idea sucked or was plain and obvious, but it's a huge bummer it's not even on the results page for some reason, as though they never received it. Mine was an interface reorganization with an emphasis on a context-sensitive area to keep things familiar and free of clutter (first thing to go was that horrible toolbar).

      I can't believe all this time I've been sitting here thinking they were reading it. I put a lot of work into it. I wonder what the heck happened. :-(

      Since it doesn't matter now, I offer it to Slashdot. Click here to read my entry in original PDF form [scaredlittleboy.org] if you want to check it out. Let me know what you think. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's not intended to be. These crazy experimental office interfaces are exactly what the user doesn't need.

      Man, what a disappointment that they never even got it. Figures. But hey, I offer mine here as GPL too--if someone wants to use it for something, go right ahead.
      • Functional clarity (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KlaymenDK (713149)
        Even though I may sound just like my fellow posts here, I wanted to drop you a comment.

        I must say that your PDF reads much like an Apple GUI guideline, and not like something intended for KDE. What I mean to say is that it shows how much you value functional clarity (perhaps too much so, in the eyes of /.ers and KDEians). Anyhow, kudos to you; you should submit those ideas to another project that is more willing to apply, well, functional clarity.
  • uhgg (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aqua OS X (458522) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:41PM (#14855070)
    This is the first time I've heard of this contest. I would've been nice if they made an effort to publicize it within the industrial and graphic design communities (ie IDSA and AIGA for starters).

    I can't say that I'm very impressed with the winner or any of the runner ups. The OS community should seize the opportunity to accept and leverage professional interactive design.

    The commercial software industry doesn't do this very well... does it's make sense to exploit this weakness?
    • It's because the open source community takes its cues from proprietary software. 99% of the time, this means open source developers are working within a shabby ripoff of the Microsoft aesthetic, which wasn't exactly design-oriented to begin with.

      It's peculiar how the open source aesthetic and the Microsoft aesthetic find such similar ways to be stomach-turningly wretched.
    • Re:uhgg (Score:5, Informative)

      by fossa (212602) <pat7&gmx,net> on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:59PM (#14855124) Journal

      From what I understand of interaction design, it's hard work. You can't have a contest "design an interface" and be done with it. That might be a start, if the design is based on observation. The next step would be to start implementing and bring users in for testing early on; then change the design as needed and keep testing. The design must be an iterative process. This is of course difficult with software; many use patterns may not be visible in the short term so I imagine it's easy to draw the wrong conclusions from the observations...

      • True. As an interactive designer, I can contest to it being incredibly difficult and time consuming. That's the main reason interactive design gets side stepped. Not only is there the visual design / illustration process that takes months, there is observation, research, specifications, etc.

        That said, opening this project up to the design community, even with massive time constraints, would probably yield more successful solutions.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:53PM (#14855106)
    Those folks at KDE/KOffice actually listen to user input or criticisms. That's good. So I'd like them to solve this issue once and for all.

    The issue is to do with fonts. I'd like to have a situation where the entire KDE desktop respects fonts selected by the still missing font manager. Right now, we have two areas where fonts can be configured and these are not [neccessarily] respected by all KDE apps! A wish issue has already been submitted.

  • What I'd like (Score:4, Interesting)

    by reason (39714) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:07PM (#14855147)
    Not sure I agree with some of the ideas in the winning entry: most people don't want to work in full page view by default, for instance, since most of us are stuck with monitors and eyesight that make full-page view uncomfortable for reading.

    What I'd really like to see is a tool to remember what documents are associated with different projects. When I'm working on my "river1" report, for instance, I want to have "river1 draft manuscript.doc", "river1 budget.xls" and "river1 project plan.doc" open for easy access, and Matlab up with the path set to the river1 directory. I should be able to do all this with a single click.

    When I'm working on the "Lake Suchandsuch" project, I want to be able to open a different set of tools and documents with one click: perhaps a putty terminal connected to my high performance computer account, a gvim window with "buggy code.c" open, and a PDF of a scientific manuscript with details of the algorithm I am trying to implement. Does anyone know of a tool that can do this?
    • Re:What I'd like (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mvdw (613057)
      Does anyone know of a tool that can do this?

      What about bash? Seriously, though, I don't know of a tool that can save a particular desktop context, although KDE tends to save the context on logout, so when you log back in it's pretty much as you logged out. I don't think it extends to files within apps, though, unless they are KDE apps.

      It would make a great utility to sit in the task tray (for windows or for KDE or gnome or OSX or whatever): one click and it saves the complete desktop context (open files a

    • There's a tool I use on several platforms that allows me to group as many files as I like, of any type, into a single project. It's called a folder. I know it's not what you're looking for, but isn't it possible to do something like Select all, right click, Open, and have it open all the files in the associated apps? Some File Managers, including Windoze Explorer, will do this.
    • well, you could create a simple script that would launch needed apps or documents.
      something like

      soffice ~/docs/river1/*.od*
      amarok -play (or whatever is the correct commandline switch :) )
      gimp ~/docs/river1/*.jpg

      then launch this from a desktop you want all the apps to be on.
      using some additional switches you can also position documents in particular locations on the desltop etc.
      of course, this isn't very easy and is not feasible if things change often enough.

      i have created some scripts like these for myself,
  • by santaliqueur (893476) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:29PM (#14855218) Homepage
    I hope they give him a free copy for winning.
  • by jackjansen (898733) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#14855262)
    The comments to this article (so far) IMHO show why Open Source user interfaces are in such a bad shape: 90% is about some minor functionality that this-or-that package doesn't have, 9% is about graphics design. Only one post discusses the reason this submission won the contest: it proposes an innovative way to present your daily work.

    After 20+ years of research results that tell people what good user interface guidelines are, plus companies such as Apple that have products that more-or-less adhere to these guidelines, it seems that the open source community (I know, equating /. posters with the open source community is a bit of a stretch:-) still doesn't get the point. It is not about how many thousand things your application can do, it is not about beautiful screen layouts, it is about enabling the end user to complete the task they have set themselves with the minimal amount of hassle (especially if s/he has done a similar thing many times before), and helping them with that task as much as possible (especially if s/he is doing something for the first time).
    • I take it that you're volunteering to help out, then? Great, welcome aboard!
    • 90% is about some minor functionality that this-or-that package doesn't have, 9% is about graphics design.

      You forgot the inevitable and entirely useless "this is why open source/linux will never make it" replies.
    • This is a problem with the whole industry, not just Open Source.
    • Agreed. That was the goal with my submission (which apparently didn't reach the judges, see my post earlier). I believe hitting users with a totally different paradigm they're not familiar with is a hindrance. Just keep it simple.

      I tried to organize functionality so there was only a relevant subset showing at a time that appeared in a context-sensitive sidebar and arranged in rows called "strips." Different sets of controls were available in mini-tabs at the top of the sidebar, so editing a text documen
    • The comments to this article (so far) IMHO show why Open Source user interfaces are in such a bad shape: 90% is about some minor functionality that this-or-that package doesn't have, 9% is about graphics design.

      You know what ? Linus disagree completely with you, he says that's a good thing to do.
      And just look at the flame wars that ensued. And then you're wrong about FOSS, as Gnome does the opposite, and lots of people sided with Linus on the flame war against Gnome.
      The point is that in FOSS, you have two d
  • I thought these were great concepts myself:

    http://www.koffice.org/competition/gui1results/mor itz_zimmermann.pdf [koffice.org]

  • by hotfireball (948064) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @10:15PM (#14855484)

    Sorry for my blindness. But does somebody can point me the difference in the principle between this proposal and Apple iWorks already developed? I see the same style drawer, same page thumbnailer and so on. Currently I see worse iWorks clone, since iWorks/Pages2 offers you better working space since you use only the tools you need actually.

    IMHO, @ KDE there was much better proposals than this one.

    Am I missing something?..

    • Here, here. That's exactly what I've been thinking while reading through these things. A good deal of the ideas in these proposals are exact copies of the iWork suite.

      BUT, I have to say that I don't think this is a bad thing! I've been using Pages and Keynote for a few months now, and I absolutely love them. Pages is a little bit different than your average word processor, but that's what I love about it. It lets me create a document with my content, rather than hassle with settings and other blech. U
  • ...now where was that? Oh, yeah, Microsoft Word for Mac. Except they did it right. Despite what they claim in the article, floating palettes most certainly have been used in office apps.
  • by Omega Blue (220968) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @10:51PM (#14855601)
    After years and years of advancements in computing we still haven't been able to create a replacement for paper. Paper is still the best choice for taking notes, jotting down ideas, drawing things, etc., etc.

    The reason is simple - you can put anything down (that you can with a writing implement) anywhere on a piece of paper. For example, you can start with drawing a sketch in the middle. Then putting down some annotating text and connecting them with arrows to the sketch. Perhaps you could make a detailed diagram of an especially complicated part at a corner. On the back of the sheet you can make some quick back of envelope calculations. After you are done, you can put the whole thing safely in your wallet.

    Do we care about typefaces, point sizes, and that sort of thing? No. All those have nothing to do with the formation, recording, and refining of ideas. However a lot of time was spent on these features that should really belong on an end node down near the very bottom of the creative process.
    • I agreed with this 100%. Then I went back and read it and found that document does reference pen and paper and it also says "All these thoughts and ideas have one common goal: Reduce the users effort while creating a document. The user should only enter the data e.g. the text and define a layout and a structure. He should concentrate on the things that matter."

      But as a synthesis on top of what I gather is the spirit of your comment, jotting ideas is naturally messy, and the act of refining and reflecting on
    • After years and years of advancements in computing we still haven't been able to create a replacement for paper. Paper is still the best choice for taking notes, jotting down ideas, drawing things, etc., etc.

      The reason is simple - you can put anything down (that you can with a writing implement) anywhere on a piece of paper. (snip)


      It's not that simple. It's not just about being able to write/draw anywhere. Tablet PC software can already do that. Microsoft OneNote can do that. Most paint programs can do
  • That argument is about as valid as saying that there should only be one text editor. Both KOffice and OO.o will be using OpenDoc as the native format. And since OpenDoc is actually open and not just a closed but "defacto" standard, the interoperability will be extremely good. So use whichever suite suits you.
  • Neither one of them has to do with the gui.

    One, a decent outlining function in the WP. Drag and drop of sections and auto renumbering.

    Two, the functionality of Filemaker v4 in Kexi. That is, make up a form with calculation fields, forced choice from popup menu, drag and drop layouts - all the stuff that makes it possible for an ordinary user to do an application in FM in a half hour, and that will take him....how long in Kexi?

    Do both of these, and it will be an absolute killer.

    There is also a bit of an is

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