The next major release of LibreOffice is going to look more at home on Linux desktops.

For the past few years developers working on the open source productivity suite have been busy porting LibreOffice’s many (many) dialogs from VCL (a cross platform UI toolkit) to GTK.

That work has come along nicely, with recent versions of LibreOffice for Linux sporting a mix of VCL message dialogs (with GTK theming applied where possible) and native GTK dialogs.

But the GTK dialog effort just hit a major milestone.

In an update posted on his blog, LibreOffice developer Caolán McNamara explains that: “over the last few major releases the GTK version of LibreOffice has increasingly had true GTK dialogs and less VCL dialogs and in master.”

And, he adds that as of this week:“there are now no direct uses of the VCL dialog APIs”.

Native GTK dialogs in LibreOffice (master) with Adwaita

This should mean that LibreOffice 6.4 (due for release in January 2020) will look grade-a on Linux desktops, inheriting and displays all the correct cues and colours from whatever GTK theme is in use.

Scrollbars, buttons, checkboxes and frames will also look as intended on GTK systems.

But switching to native GTK dialogs also improves consistency in the user experience. For instance, the animations and visual feedback given when switching between tabs in a dialog, pressing a button, or dragging a slider.

The effort required was huge as LibreOffice has hundreds of dialogs and thousands of XML UI definition files.

So while natively handled dialogs may sound like a small improvement for such a colossal software project to make, it hasn’t been a trivial one.

#gtk3 #libreoffice