Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 14:20

(LibreOffice 6.2 with Groupedbar enabled)

In the last post I talked about the Notebookbar and the style I presented there is called Tabbed. Actually, starting from 6.1, the Notebookbar got multiple new modes aside from Tabbed, among them are Contextual and Grouped. So if the Tabbed mode resembles MSO 2007, these two modes resemble no one, they are new unique styles requested by LibreOffice users. We will see them soon below. You can try it quickly right now by downloading and running LibreOffice AppImage without changing your GNU/Linux system. Enjoy!

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About LibreOffice: Notebookbar Feature | Old Notebookbar | Enabling/Disabling It | AppImage Version | Macro | Macro Example


(Friday, 22 February 2019) Thanks to brother Rizal Muttaqin, the developer of Karasa Jaga icons set of LibreOffice, I recognized there are mistakes I made on the first and some other screenshots and GIFs here. He kindly reminded me that 'blue folder' icon is not from 6.2 but 6.1. I apologize to all readers. Thanks to him I edited this article with updated screenshots and GIF animations. But I don't remove the mistaken screenshots so you can see the subtle visual difference between 6.1 and 6.2 below:

(The 6.1, notice the blue folder icon on top-left of each window)

(The 6.2, notice the yellow folder icon replacing the blue one)

1. Basic looks

Grouped and contextual bars look like these from LibreOffice 6.2.


Contextual groups

They look almost the same. The difference is at contextual bar's bottom line, it shows only labels, not menus like at grouped bar.

2. Quick switch

To switch between the two modes of Contextual and Grouped bars, simply go to menu bar View > User Interface > select either Contextual groups or Groupedbar.

 (How to quickly switch between the two modes)

3. Writer, Calc, Impress

To be more complete, here's contextual and grouped bars compared in the Writer, Calc, and Impress. You may notice on the second picture below, the contextual bar on Writer behind Calc behind Impress, missed one last section (most right). That's how the dynamic panel activated. Once it lost focus, it lost that section. Once it gets focus, it shows that section.

Contextual groups bar of all
(notice Calc gets focus and Writer lost focus)

 Grouped bar of all

4. The dynamics of contextual group

The contextual bar has 4 different partitions namely File, Clipboard, Text, and Insert. The first three are static, but the last one is dynamic, it changes by context. If you select a picture, it shows picture-related options such as Crop and Style. If you select a table, it shows table-related options such as border color and style. And so on.

(Gif animation: showing how Contextual works with picture and table)

You may find that Contextual bar is too simple and not satisfying. Indeed, the design said that Contextual is supposed to be used with Sidebar. So if you find the buttons are missing, combine it with Sidebar.

(Writer, with Contextual bar, and Sidebar showing)

5. The dynamics of groupedbar

Groupedbar is another notebookbar with all buttons showing in one space and arranged in groups without tabs. The wiki said that this feature follows the principle of (well, same as KDE Plasma) "simple by default, powerful when needed". Groupedbar is almost similar to normal toolbar we all knew because every "group" has a drop-down menu from normal menu bar starting from File to Grid and continued on most right with Menu, Tools, and Help drop-down menus. You will find convenience with the icons buttons but when it's not enough, use the menu right below them. This groupedbar is like a combination of normal notebookbar and normal menu bar so you can work in both ways at any time. 

(Gif animation: showing how Contextual menus working)

And it changes according to your object selection. Select a picture then relevant picture-related options showing. Select a table then relevant table-related options showing. It shows 4 different sections for a picture, namely Image, Arrange, Color, and Grid. It shows 6 different sections for a table, namely Table, Rows, Merge, Select, Calc, and Reference.

For picture, these are sections showing:

(Image, Arrange, Color, and Grid)

For table, these are sections showing:

(Table, Rows, Merge, Select, Calc, Reference)
(They are much longer than the maximized length of Writer window so I need to unmax it and then resize it manually to show them all)

6. Contextual and grouped for document writing

For example, let's do normal thing, some simple text formatting and inserting table and special characters.

  • change font
  • bold, italic, underline
  • left, center, right alignment
  • enlarge and decrease font size
  • create table

(Gif animation: Contextual bar, trying some features to edit text)

  • change font
  • bold, italic, underline, strikethrough
  • line spacing
  • bullets and numberings 
  • paragraph spacing
  • insert table
  • insert special characters
(Gif animation: Grouped bar, trying some features to edit text)

Among the two, I like insert special character new menu the most. It's smart, it presents the most used ones (like copyright and infinite signs) on the front, while letting you to add up more yourself. I like it.

7. Some Problem

My LibreOffice version is AppImage. On contextual, the menu Style and all of its sub-menu do not work. I cannot make a picture goes grayscale, nor make it as watermark, nor anything from available sub-menus. This is not a problem on Grouped, as I can make it goes grayscale, or give a watermark, or use any editing button available there. I wish this problem will get improvements in the next release.

Closing Words

For now, I like Groupedbar more than Contextual. Because it gives me more controls. How about you? Do you like it? But really, LibreOffice developers have produced awesome new things with these. I would like to see the next improvements and further use them regularly. That's all. Enjoy!

Further Readings

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.