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    I agree to disagree


    by ron_007 ·

    Susan, I’m sure I replied on that other blog, and that at best we can agree to disagree about the value of the Ribbon vs Menu user interfaces.

    My basic argument against the ribbon is that it is intended explicitly to make learning the apps easier for new users. It totally discounted the comfort of experienced users. Sure most of the old shortcuts were kept, but enough are changed to make it awkward. And if you want to use the new shortcuts at the command level, there is a whole new set, including new 2 letter codes because there are so many buttons on each tab.

    Take a look at the new letters assigned to the tabs! In Word: “N” for Insert? “S” for References? “W” for View? “L” for developer. The shortcuts on half of the default tabs are irrational!

    How is it easier/better to locate things on the ribbon. On the Word Home tab I counted 59 command points: icons, drop downs, scroll buttons and dialog launchers. Many of them very subtle, like the dialog launchers.

    I have one very good reason for keeping access to menus available, even if it is not the default. The time and money people, that MS’s paying CUSTOMERS, have spent learning the menus. We are very proficient in that user interface, and simply throwing it out is wrong headed and arrogant.

    In what way is reverting to a 4000 year old system of hieroglyphics, aka ICONS, clearer or more intuitive than simply reading the text menus.

    Compared to building the ribbon gooey from scratch, it would have been trivial for them to have kept the menu as a selectable option and done the minor enhancement to add new features.

    Your points:
    #1 is about eye candy, a trivial argument

    #2 I never dealt with info path no opinion

    #3 toolbars. Have you counted the number of Tabs? I have!
    In Word 2010 I have so far “found” 20 tabs. I suspect there are more that I haven’t seen because I don’t use those functions. There are, I just thought of how to “find” the rest, in Customize ribbon. I counted 31 TABS! (plus a couple for addins!) (You can’t get the full tab count in Office 2007!)
    In Word 2003 if you right click on the menu or toolbar it displays the complete list of toolbars. There are 22 items, including the 2 default toolbars and the Task Pane, making an argument that there are only 19 “hidden” toolbars … Hmm, I guess it takes “new math” to make 19 worse than 31. And, at least in the menu system you can see a list of all the possible toolbars and display them to find out what is there.

    #4 Outlook attachment blocking is irrelevant to the menu vs ribbon discussion

    #5 macro sec – it irrelevant to menu vs ribbon discussion

    #6 Menu???s “depth”. How has it improved to any significant degree. Whether the command is on a menu, or toolbar or tab, it is still the same command. Menu, drop down, drop down, command is deepest I found except for autotext. The ribbon goes at least as deep, and arguably deeper: Insert tab / Text Group / WordArt button . Insert Wordart, Only then can you see the Drawing Tools Format conditional tab / WordArt Styles group / click Dialog Launcher button to display Format Text Effects dialog. Click on Text fill option / Color drop down button/ More Colors option. I don???t see any fewer layers. Most of the ribbon commands still invoke the old dialog boxes. Even in 2010, nothing has changed. The ribbon is just another different shell on top of the same old commands. There are no fewer functions or commands, actually a couple more.

    #7 Track changes, no argument

    #8 Smart Menus: I agree, they were dumb but they could be turned off. But how are hidden conditional tabs any different?
    How are tabs that constantly change the LOCATION and ICON size/image as you resize the window NOT considered “smart”?
    And how about the “hidden” control elements in the ribbon. Such as the hated Office button. Or how about galleries contain 4 controls: click on displayed gallery item, up/down and drop down controls. Or the itsy-bitsy-teeny-tiny-artsie “dialog launcher buttons” on the Group Name “text” label? Or did you know that some drop downs and Galleries have at least 3 different resizing attributes: fixed size, longer, longer and wider.

    #9 Getting Started Pain: I agree, it was a dumb design decision. But that was a simple setting to get rid of it

    #10 Outlook: no opinion I don???t use it

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