Sunday, September 09, 2007

Why did Microsoft give us the Ribbon X?


The one thing I disliked the most about Office 2007 was the Ribbon.  It halts productivity for awhile (where did the format menu go? Oh it's Home now!) and screws with my head by not showing the menu I was shortcutting to... (Alt E - F - R?)

Not to mention the Jewel in the corner that hides the preferences menus, and important things like File - Save as.

The good news is you can download free (and $15) tools that recreate the good old file-edit menus that were in Office 2003.  The bad news is you have to download them - they should just be an option to check off in the system.

So why the Ribbon?

There are several reasons why Microsoft put ribbon in office. The most apparent one is target group. What is ribbon anyway? It's a toolstrip with tabs and really big icons. The reason why Microsoft decided to build office' user interface with it (the way I see it) is to make it easier for average secretary for whom computer is voodoo to use it. Instead of menus hiding option everything is right in front of her eyes, labeled, and with big shiny icons. That certainly makes it easier for starters to use it.

For advanced users however result is opposite. Advanced users do most of their work with keyboard shortcuts, and don't care about big icons and descriptive labels under them. What they rather care about is: this big thing on top of my screen eats up lot of space on my monitor. This is especially important in tools where you want to have multiple windows open at once, and every pixel is worth gold.

There's a reason why Microsoft didn't put ribbon in VS 2008, and (again, the way I see it) that is exactly this: different target group. Visual Studio is targeted for advanced users who don't care about big icons and who most of the time use keyboard shortcuts.

Source: Krzysztof Koźmic's blog - powered by FeedBurner

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