KOffice -- Kids Office
I am also working in a company that provides Linux solutions for, among other customers, schools. This has given me some insight into how school people think, and also what problems they face. I have also talked to a number of Linux packagers that provide special Linux distributions for school use, among them Skole-Linux and another European initiative that currently is working to provide Linux for several thousand schools (that I am not allowed to reveal any details about). These people say that the kde-edu module is one of the immediate reasons why they chose KDE instead of... well, The Other Desktop(tm).
I was in the shower the other day, thinking of a lot of different stuff, when I suddenly got an idea: How about a special edition of KOffice for kids in School? I imagined a much simplified office suite with fewer components (no kexi or kplato for instance), and much fewer features for each program. But not only that: I imagined also a softer and friendlier GUI with rounder corners and a lot of nice colors. This would make it less frightening for the kids to use, and also a lot simpler.
I mentioned this idea to Danny Allen (dannya on irc), who happens to be an artist, and also happens to have a vision for the future of kde-edu. In fact I wanted to model the program(s) after his vision, KidsPlay, and asked him if he could perhaps throw together a quick graphical hack to illustrate my point.
Well, it turns out that Danny liked the idea so much that he went completely into hibernation and disappeared. When he reemerged, not only did I get a quick hack, but I got a complete concept portfolio! So with no further ado, I and Danny Allen give you: KOffice for Schools -- Kids Office
This is the imagined GUI of the word processor. Danny has called it WordUp as a code name. I think he has captured my vision perfectly! Notice the simple and -- really -- intuitive GUI. Notice the lack of menu bar. Instead there are just a few icons that capture the most important functions. This could actually be used by kids age 8-10 to write a small report on some group work they did in class.
Another thing that he used when he designed this is the concept of 3, i.e. max 3 things grouped together: Cut/Copy/Paste, Bold/Italic/Underlined, Sans Serif/Serif/Fancy, Left/Center/Right aligned. You don't need any more! This is perfect! And the notepad metaphore is also perfect.
In addition to all this, he came up with a clever scheme to use color for coding features: green for safe ones, red for dangerous ones and blue for neutral ones.
Note, in the picture above how the paste icon is green when active. Paste is safe, because the pasted text can always be removed without problems. Cut would be dangerous and thus red. Copy would be neutral, i.e. blue.
Here is the complete toolbar for WordUp, as Danny imagines it. I can't say I understand all colors, but it sure looks nice, doesn't it?
He also added a mockup for the New and Open features, where the user can select a number of old documents or templates. I'll let the picture speak for itself:
Now, imagine this together with a shell like the one shown for KidsPlay above and with an integrated drawing application (DrawUp?), and you will have a very, very good office suite for young school kids.
As I said above, kde-edu is right now a big reason to choose KDE in the schools. This could make KOffice another one. And once they are hooked, they will never leave!