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OpenOffice.org charts undergo cosmetic surgery

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OpenOffice.org suffers from a wildly inconsistent user interface (UI) that combines unique elements with borrowings from Microsoft Office. Now, in the upcoming version 2.3, it is finally having some of the cosmetic procedures it so badly needs -- at least in the charts subsystem. The changes include a new default color scheme and a heavily revamped wizard, but only small changes in functionality, making this revision a case study in UI design for both better and worse.

The most obvious change is the color scheme for graphs. In existing versions, the default colors are dull pastels that, in the words of one user I know, are "sooo 1993" -- a reference, presumably, to the colors you would find in Microsoft Excel around that time. To replace these colors, OpenOffice.org created 12 color schemes and allowed registered users to vote on them. The winning color palette leads off with bold yellow, blue, and red that are reminiscent of the default colors in KChart, and drags OpenOffice.org into the third millennium at last, showing, as a side benefit, how tastes have changed in the last 15 years of computing.

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