I am proposing a new icon set for AOO 4.1 that will make them more usable and recognizable to users.

Our focus should be to be the best user experience. To do this, you need to step out of your shoes and think "if I were a user would I care about X in this context?"



4.1 Proposed




This is an example size for document instances.  The Templates are similarly designed.
The top of the icon has a solid color differing and designating it as a template file.

4.1 Proposed
More Usable? Yes. Why?
- Primary Context (Application Designation - Red) has greatest focus. Users don't care to see Secondary Context (Application Branding - Green aka 'the gulls'), it's nice to have, but users are fairly familiar that the file will open with Apache OpenOffice, so no need to remind users everyday/ no value added.  On top it complicates shrunk/smaller icons. A compromise is to drop it from small icons, where its obscure and illegible.
- Corner And Designator Color (keep from old design), user can identify the file type quickly by color and designator.
- Enlarged Designation, helps color blind and hard of seeing individuals.
- Mime designation, helps users differentiate file type when the above two fail to help, include when screen space permits  MIME Type is not important to this audience, brain-spill-over from my technical side, technical files like .XML & .XSD. -Samer.
   - Additionally, the color of the MIME type could be different for further differentiation of template files.
- Single gull, or maybe O or circle can satisfy secondary element, less busy yet gets the brand across.

Green - Branding (Twin Gulls)
Red - Application Designation
Orange - Page Corner (Colored)



Optimal size, great for showing how fabulous and sophisticated our product is.
At this level we keep the MIME designation but the three characters at a little larger.


At this level we should still be able to see the branding well as well as identifying the file type quickly.
At this level we drop the MIME designation, space is limited and mime type becomes less likely to help identify or connect with the user.


At 16px, space is limited, we want to be the least busiest.
Might need to drop the branding to make less busy. (Green)
Our focus should be to be the best user experience, and that might mean dropping the branding to be much more helpful to the user.

Tools To Complete Task

GIMP - Free - Can exports icon files with varying sizes. Tutorial on layer sizing and exporting: http://www.gimp-tutorials.net/How-to-make-an-icon-from-a-picture


Current 3.4.1
256px (click to enlarge)

Base - .odb Database Document

Calc - .ods Spreadsheet

Calc - .ots Spreadsheet Template

Draw - .odg Drawing

Draw - .otg Drawing Template

Impress - .odp Presentation

Impress - .otp Presentation Template

Math - .odf Formula Document

Writer - .odm Master Document

Writer - .odt Text Document

Writer - .ott Text Template

Writer - .oth Web Template

Existing references and resources for icons:




AOO.next Flat Desktop Icon Exploration

Submitted by Kevin Grignon

Palette is based on AOO blue as key colour.

AOO Desktop Icon Exploration - Samer Mansour 

Improvement in icons to emphasize file type (enlarged application icon and colours, decrease in birds and black styling taking up space.)

AOO Desktop Icon Exploration 2 (Round) - Samer Mansour

Rounded to match branding, Went flat, sharper, increased contrast between designator and background icon. Less busy, dropped the gulls.

Changed templates to be dotted, different perspective than we used in the past, left the solid bar at the top so previous 3.x users transition to new icon set.

Then I thought keep the circle theme going (lines don't scale down as nicely in circle version because its smaller to start with):


Zipped Icons:

Icon Set Round.zip

Icon Set Alt.zip

One more example for comparison on Windows 8 (can be done by Properties->Shortcut->Change Icon... dialog in windows):


You can see how having a circle or rounded square makes the Icon slightly less readable/less pixels to work with.  BTW The anti aliasing isn't fine tuned.

Oct 15th - Logo with offset - Samer Mansour

Logo with offset (new style of previous icons)

November 23rd

Feb 17th - Samer

Fine tuned pixels in inkscape "Icon Preview" under File Menu "View" -> "Icon Preview", If you will be modifying please see changes under that view to see if it causes pixelation or drowning of color.

Main Icons.zip - Mar 5 (Mac and Windows)

File Icons.zip - Mar 4 (Impress, Draw and Math)

Working on more file icons tomorrow.


Icon Ideas



Keep Gulls

Branding (arguable how this is beneficial though)
(Brand name is on icon tile/start menu and on hover too)

Makes Icons busier at smaller sizes


Looks like an App, user is familiar.
More space for colour, enforces what app it is.

Tougher to see when small
This isn't a mobile app, most desktop applications are any shape they want to be.


Looks like logo, consistency is neat idea.
More space for colour, enforces what app it is.

Toughest to see when small

No Background

Easier to see when < 48px, majority of icon's life is < 48px (Windows).

Can be a shock at first.

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  1. So far, I like the top row in the first exploration the best. I like the simplicity and the more square shape.

    I don't know what size you're using for the Win 8 sizing in:


    but it would be useful to see my favorite rendering (and others) in this size also.

    Also: Keep the gulls! (smile) In my mind, they are an important "branding" element of OpenOffice. The gull was used in the "early" days in various stages of maturity – from hatching out of a shell, to fuzzy chick to mature bird – for product announcements, etc. I realize that use is probably no longer relevant, but the gulls are an ingrained symbol of this project and product in my mind.

  2. Re Oct 15 –

    Well, interesting – no particular preference of top row vs bottom on this. I tried a test with the top row, and they did indeed desaturate fine. I still favor the square ones even though our main logo is a circle. I don't see that as an issue but maybe others do.

    Resized to 32 px high with Gimp, still OK

  3. Well, rather the same with me (as with Kay), I tend to like the round icons - and do note the comment about them getting a bit harder to read when small - but not so that I feel too strongly.

    So the gulls, or gull; I suppose that this has often come down to a question not so much about aesthetics but rather brand emphasis. It's come up over the years and I believe it would be fair to say that the reasoning for not using the gull(s) on the document (mime) icons is to emphasis less the brand of the application and more the brand of the document format - promote AOO over ODF or ODF over AOO.

    Anyway, I've always tended to see more value in promoting the application brand - though I do see the rational in the other opinion.

    Otherwise, as Kay I desaturated also and yeah they seem just fine to my old eyes (wink)

    Not sure if I should ask about the slight change in color assignments - Red for Math for instance.. I guess that is part of the decision here, yes?

    1. Red made sense to me because it completed the rainbow, more fun than grey.

      1. What I discovered on about a 45% desaturation was the last three because of color, all seemed to fade to a murky yellow-orange-ish color.

        Could just be my monitor though. I mean they were still readable but didn't really retain their individual color all that well. I don't know what our goals are in this respect.

        1. High contrast icons satisfy that you can tell them apart while grey scaled.  I know this is satisfied through the primary context (red areas in mock ups). The context and the background are different enough to see when greyscaled. 

          ie the same saturation of two Hues will make the same grey colour.  See left side for an example here: http://rgm.ogalab.net/RGM-files/R_CC/result/colorspace/desaturate.Rd_001_large.png

          Since I use White and a colour, the contast is high enough so you can still make out its a spreadsheet vs a document.  Making the primary context large would also help this.

          Semi-saturation is not a real threat because we have handled it with primary contexts (red areas in mock ups)

          Edit: meant to say red areas not green areas, fixed

    2. Drew –

      Jsut so we're clear. I prefer the square ones over the round ones..the VERY first set on this page under this heading:

      AOO Desktop Icon Exploration - Samer Mansour

  4. No Offense, but IMHO the proposed icons are very bad.

    1. They look similar to each other at first glance and make it difficult to identify the related application.
    2. The colors are too loud.
    3. They remind the LibreOffice icons.