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Ribbon UI - User response?

I'm curious to know if anyone has implemented the new Microsoft Ribbon UI look in an application.  In particular, how has your user base responded to the new look?
Grinder Send private email
Monday, December 03, 2007
 
 
Yes. We've implemented it in one application. Beta users are confused by it. One of the devs wanted to do it (ooh shiny!) and the phb approved it without knowing what it looks like. It is too late to yank it out and replace it with a normal UI, and I have been (dis)appointed to be in charge of MS license compliance for the ribbon.
Peter Send private email
Monday, December 03, 2007
 
 
I've been told by various people that use Office 2007 that the ribbon grows on you. Regardless, I assume that as more people become familiar with this UI widget the more usable it will become to the masses. BTW you'll be happy to learn that with Visual Studio 2008 you'll be able to create a ribbon using good ol' MFC: http://ericomguy.blogspot.com/2007/11/mfc-back-to-future.html
Dan Shappir Send private email
Monday, December 03, 2007
 
 
"I've been told by various people that use Office 2007 that the ribbon grows on you."

Well, I've been using Office 2007 for a few months now and I still hate it. I really have no idea what Microsoft was thinking - what exactly was wrong with normal toolbars?
Arethuza
Monday, December 03, 2007
 
 
The Ribbon is great, if you use it right.  If you just s/toolbar/ribbon/gi, it the ribbon will suck big time.

Office 2007 reworked the entire hierarchy to fit the new afforances provided by the ribbon.  Everything you can change in a document is right there in front of your face now.  Better "right there" is mostly pictures, not text.  Better still is when you hover most options, Office will temporarily update the document with the new look.

Basically, dont s/toolbar/ribbon/.  Play around with Office 2007 before you judge.  Those of you who are cynical will have to say "I'm learning a new language, things are different and I don't know if it is good or bad.  I promise I will not curse".  Kinda like when I learned the Mac - I promised myself I would not curse and go with the flow :-)
Cory R. King Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
I must say, I love the Ribbon. I've been using Office 2007 for many months now, and I dread going to client sites where they still have Office 95 (not really, but it feels like it).

I have implemented a Ribbon-style UI on one major project so far, and it has been well received. These are people who don't know what Office 2007 is (they'll probably get that in 2015), so it was interesting to drop it in there and see how they use it, with no previous exposure to such a UI.

I think it has been a success. It is great that you can give emphasis (through size/style of widget) to some important features, and down-play others.

It was not hard too implement in HTML/JavaScript/CSS. I know there are libraries available now, but at the time it wasn't the case. I'm happy that I did it myself, as it allowed me to build in hooks specific to my application.
Entries of Confusion Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
Sorry - as a long time user of Word (even before the Windows version - I've even used Word on SCO Xenix) I do think the ribbon is one of the more misguided user interface changes I've seen.

It's not like I am alone - 95% of MS Office users I know hate the new interface.
Arethuza
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
Do you know 100 users of Office then?
John Topley Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
>It's not like I am alone - 95% of MS Office users I know hate the new interface.

Of course they do. Users hate change.
Troels Knak-Nielsen Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
Sounds like mixed reviews. At this point it might be more helpful to Grinder elaborate why users feel the way they feel, especially for users that don't like it.
- Is it just a matter of learning something new, but then it's worth the benefits?
- Is there a flaw in MS's implementation that Grinder can avoid in his/her own app?
- Is it something fundamentally wrong with it?
Michael Zuschlag Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
The ribbon has its place. I like it and have found many features in Word/Excel that I never new existed.

However, it should only be used when there are 100's of menu/toolbar items and the application is context based, e.g. you expect to do different things with a picture highlighted compared to a table.

One of the worst examples I seen of a complete mis-use of the concept is here:
http://www.devcomponents.com/dotnetbar/ApplicationGallery/rikware/MainForm.png

There is no justification for it here other than the developer thought it was 'kewl'
Adrian
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
"Of course they do. Users hate change."

Users hate change for the sake of change. Count me among them.

All this talk (not here, but elsewhere) about "innovation" and the Ribbon is ridiculous. Handheld email readers are innovation. MP3 players are innovation. Computers so cheap you can have one on your desk is innovation. But flashy little UI widgets aren't innovation, they are just someone trying to squeeze a few extra dollars out of a tired old product.
Greg Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
Outlook 2007 uses the standard toolbar
nessuno
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
What is so wrong about making something look nice?  The ribbon looks nice and takes advantage of modern computers with modern resolutions.  Best of all you can do really slick usability enhancing tricks that would be very difficult with the the old school toolbar.

Who cares though, right?  I mean Windows 95 was just eye candy ontop of Windows 3.11 which is just OS2 with more eye candy, right?

Perhaps we should all just use green screen consoles?  I mean, GUI?  3d rendering on the desktop?  You call that innovation?  Innovation is a cure for aids, even though clearly that isn't even innovation at all, after all it is just some modified variant of <existing vaccine>?

I mean, what is the point of all those fancy digital controls on our microwave when the old mechanical timer worked just fine, right?  I mean, where is the innovation with the "popcorn button", it is just a stupid button.  Plus, the microwave isn't innovation at all, it is just some rip off of the toaster oven!  Next thing you know, they'll create things that are incompatible with my 30 year old toaster oven and require a microwave to cook.  A communist plot, really.  Bastards!  Why should I throw away my perfectly good toaster oven for a microwave??

Give me a break.  Live in a cave.  The future is Vista and the Ribbon.  Either cope or find yourself obsolete.  Whining only speeds up the process where you become unemployable.

... But yes.  The ribbon (and Vista) is a change.  You know what else is a change?  Remember when the US changed the look of their $20's.  Oh my, even I thought they were ugly at first.  Now look at how dated the old $20's seem.
Cory R. King Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
I like the ribbon too. If Microsoft writes defensive patents on it we'll just take dusty copies of Broderbund Print Shop for DOS and throw it at their lawyers/researchers and laugh. Someone should just clean-room it so that at opportune times it can be leveraged in web and desktop apps by ISVs.
Li-fan Chen Send private email
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
 
"Remember when the US changed the look of their $20's..."

I like that example. I think I'll start using it if you don't mind.  :)
Johnny Bravado
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
"Give me a break.  Live in a cave.  The future is Vista and the Ribbon."

Great Scott!! You can tell the future?

All joking aside...perhaps someone could dislike the Ribbon for reasons other than them being resistant to change? I mean, a lot of people genuinely dislike it due to the screen real estate that it takes up among other reasons.

Anyway, you can never tell in this industry...things change so rapidly. Everybody could be using Firefox 6 and Open Office 5 or Google Office Everywhere(beta) in 7 more years.
Wayne Bloss Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
"The future is Vista and the Ribbon.  Either cope or find yourself obsolete.  Whining only speeds up the process where you become unemployable."

Perhaps if I was in a position where I wrote applications rather than buying them then I'd take this view too.

From the point of view of someone who has to consider rolling out applications to close on to ten thousand desktops globally then the step change in the Office user interface looks like a bad idea.

Actually, the whole Vista & Office 2007 has made us seriously consider other platforms such as Macintosh or Linux. Not that I'm saying that we will move but at least alternatives are being looked at - which typically never happened before.
Arethuza
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
People say "user hate change" as though this hatred is somehow irrational.  Speaking as someone who has been using Word and Excel since version 6.0 there is a reason why I still feel frustrated and annoyed by the ribbon.  After all these years of using the products I knew how to get them to do the things I needed to do: insert a cross-reference, create a header or footer, define a pivot table blah, blah, blah.

Now I find that in order to do something I could previously do without thinking I have to stop, break out of my flow of concentration and try to guess where Microsoft has decided to move the relevent function to.  It might only be a small annpyance but it is a persistent one and one for which there is no commensurate benefit.

Sure the ribbon might suddenly reveal a whole bunch of functions but you know what?  There're not things I want to use.  They're just distractions and annoyances.  They're just thiings I have to get past when I'm looking for soemthing else.
GrumpOldGit Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
I can certainly relate with other comments about moving from older Office applications to Office 2007 and the Ribbon UI.  I initally had problems finding things in Access 2007 and cursed it to death under my breath.  After some use I did come around and I now prefer the UI, but the initial change was indeed tough.

My situation is different, since this is a brand new application with no backward compatibility issues.  I may lose a few early sales, but I think that implementing the UI now will help eliminate a big UI change in version 2 or beyond.
Grinder Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
"Actually, the whole Vista & Office 2007 has made us seriously consider other platforms such as Macintosh or Linux."

Yeah, good luck with that. If you think that you are going to enjoy managing 10,000 Linux desktops you're crazy.

Just another case of bending over dollars to pick up pennies. Your support costs go up slightly because people are just getting used to a new OS. An OS that ultimately will save you tons of money over the long term with better security and manageability and you start considering jumping ship. And to what? Something that will be a COMPLETE change with endless support calls and upgrade costs. If you think that Vista and the ribbon is confusing to users wait until you throw Linux in front of them. Does that make sense in the least?

So go ahead and consider alternatives. But in the end you'll find that the minor changes in Vista and Office are trivial and this small bump in support costs will pass. And your long term support costs will drop. I seriously doubt that you will find any good business reason to make the switch.
anon
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
Haha... move to Linux.  That is the answer.

Most Linux GUI's steal all their desktop "innovation" straight from Microsoft.  After "it is done when we say it is done," you'll open up your copy of Open Office and look mom!  It's The Ribbon!

But go ahead.  Hate on the ribbon.

PS:  Hate aside... How would the ribbon work in Visual Studio?  I was slightly surprised not to see it in 2008, but I really cannot see it working in that kind of application.  It seems the Ribbon works best in applications where you make a lot of visual changes to documents.
Cory R. King Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
I hate Vista. I hate the new Office UI. I hate Gnome and KDE. I've switched back from Vista to XP (Win2000 style) and I love the sheer speed of it. And I love not being constantly asked for approvement by some dumb dialog.
At my workplace we're equipping trucks with old IBM T30 Thinkpads running Win2000. What a great UI experience Win2000 is compared to all the other crap that is out there...(well, maybe except OSX, have no real life experience with that none).

MS, please bring that those LEAN_AND_MEAN programmers!
fritz Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
Ribbon in Visual Studio would be kind of... hrm... odd.  I was going to post that same question, but after thinking about it a few minutes I just decided that Microsoft would not do anything so damning as to put a ribbon bar in the Visual Studio IDE.

There are some things that can't be easily lumped into a ribbon control, like the Refactoring menu - among other things.
Nate Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
If Detroit did the same thing to cars that Microsoft did to the Office interface, would you want to drive for the next 5 years?
Jess Dinkin Send private email
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
"And I love not being constantly asked for approvement by some dumb dialog."

Fritz, you might want to spend some time in the following thread. You might learn something:

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.571026.4

Pay special attention to the following point:

"If you are being inundated by Vista UAC popups then the problem is YOU. You are doing something fundamentally wrong. With normal usage you should NOT be bombarded by UAC prompts since this indicates that you are attempting to perform a privileged action."

As for the fact that you've "switched back from Vista to XP (Win2000 style) and love the sheer speed of it", I guarantee that you were one of the detractors when XP originally came out. You probably called it "eye candy" and talked about how crappy and slow it was just like you do today with Vista. And you probably did the same thing with Win2000. So my point is that you quickly become accustomed to these new things and quite attached to them as well. In time you will speak about Vista the same way you do XP or Win2000. And that's the whole point. Users will always bitch initially. But eventually they learn to really like the changes and recognize that progress has indeed been made. If not, we'd all still be running DOS.
anon
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
 
 
"Ribbon in Visual Studio would be kind of... hrm... odd.  I was going to post that same question, but after thinking about it a few minutes I just decided that Microsoft would not do anything so damning as to put a ribbon bar in the Visual Studio IDE."

It certainly would. I did notice that InstallAware 7 uses it though, and that seems to work pretty well. Visual Studio is a way more complex beast, though.

Like many others, I was sceptical of the Ribbon UI at first. Havign used it for a while I can say that it gre on me, although the change in shortcuts was annoying to say the least.

That said, the decision not to provide a compitability mode (primarily for companies who would otherwise have to retrain their staff) seems quite frankly astonishing (verging on commercially suicidal) to me.
Anna-Jayne Metcalfe Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
Damn typos. Where's the "Edit Post" button again?
Anna-Jayne Metcalfe Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
Well, to summarize the comments here, it sounds like the main criticism of the Ribbon is learning the new locations for some commands, which Grinder says won’t be an issue for his app. The real question is will the Ribbon be better than a traditional pulldown/toolbar when users have no prior experience with the app?

To get closer to an answer there, it’s worth noting that the Ribbon was developed to solve a problem specific to MS Office. Details can be found on Jensen Harris’s blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/tags/Why+the+New+UI_3F00_/default.aspx), but the problem was users could not find advanced features in Office. In early versions of Office, the pulldown/toolbar worked brilliantly, but then they added hundreds of new features, and many features were poorly placed in the menus/toolbars, and then they tried to fix it with things like cascade menus, adaptive menus, and task panes, but that just made it worse, so they decided to scrap the whole thing.

Based on that, I would go with Adrian's suggestion above: if your app is closer to Word 2.0 (about 100 menu items, and one or two simple toolbars), you’re better off with a pulldown/toolbar. If you have (or anticipate having in a later release) several hundred commands, and you can't avoid the pitfalls Office had in organizing them, then a Ribbon may be a safer bet.

One way to think of the Ribbon is as a mechanism to provide a separate pulldown/toolbar set for each major task –that’s how it solves the problem of organizing 100’s of commands. Key to keeping it efficient is the ability to divide your commands into separate tasks –you don’t want your users thrashing between two tabs every other command, something Harris (and Adrian) warns about. You'll probably find that, like for Office, some of your commands span multiple major tasks (e.g,. cut, copy, paste, undo). If so, you shouldn't implement a Ribbon unless you're also implementing a Minibar and/or a Quick Access Toolbar, as done in Office.
Michael Zuschlag Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
Indeed, I noticed it in Installer Aware as well.  It works pretty well in their application.

Visual Studio would probably require a complete overhaul of their interface to integrate the Ribbon.  Honestly, I think Visual Studio is getting due for an overhaul anyway. Somebody needs to figure out how to get Visual Studio to support dual monitors in a more elegant fashion.  Every developer on earth has at least dual monitors and no application is really designed to take advantage of it.

I think Office doesn't have backward compatibility because the difference between 2003 and 2007 doesn't allow it.  You'd basically have two separate application stacks in a single application.  One would  have to support a toolbar & menu model and the other would have a ribbon.  How would it even work?  I'm sure the Office dudes had huge debates about making the clean break that they did.  It wasn't easy to pull off the Ribbon.
Cory R. King Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
Visual Studio supports Dual Monitor just fine for the way I work: I put all the tool windows on my 2ndary monitor so i can get a full screen of code/designer on my primary monitor.

The only option that they need is to allow me to save this setup so when I switch between dual and single monitor I don't have to drag my tool windows all over the place. There is a plugin for this, but it's total crap (VsWindowManager).
Wayne Bloss Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
It is supposedly in the works for the next version of Visual Studio.

http://blogs.msdn.com/noahc/archive/2007/10/10/multi-monitor-support-in-vs10.aspx
anon
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
I do the same, but you have to admit it just feels like you are going against the grain of the application.

I have no idea how to fix this though...
Cory R. King Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
I will admit no such thing! =P

The tool windows are draggable. I can drag a windows to a different monitor. I don't see how that goes against the grain of anything.
Wayne Bloss Send private email
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
 
"If Detroit did the same thing to cars that Microsoft did to the Office interface, would you want to drive for the next 5 years?"

Nice example when GM and Ford are desperately trying to stay afloat whilst Toyota whip them like a red-headed stepchild. The cause of their woes? GM and Ford kept doing the same old thing over and over whilst Toyota innovated.
Paul Brown Send private email
Friday, December 07, 2007
 
 
I think that's a tenuous point Paul, because Toyotas still have the same basic control layout as other cars.
John Topley Send private email
Friday, December 07, 2007
 
 
It feels lonely on the other monitor, what can I say?

That poor little toolbox out there on my other monitor trying to visually compete with all the other applications I have smeared over the desktop.  The toolbox lacks the visual contrast needed when piled on top of other windows that all have the same contrast.  When they are within the IDE, a toolbox is set against a flat grey and stands out.

To put it to a point.  They lack visual contrast on your second monitor.

How to fix?  I have no idea.  Maybe overlay a blurry, dark, translucent sheet to separate the toolboxes and the windows under it?  Dunno.  That is for somebody with more graphic design experience than me to figure out.
Cory R. King Send private email
Friday, December 07, 2007
 
 
"If you are being inundated by Vista UAC popups then the problem is YOU. You are doing something fundamentally wrong. With normal usage you should NOT be bombarded by UAC prompts since this indicates that you are attempting to perform a privileged action."

Yes, fundamentally wrong : like opening VS2005 and SQL Manager.
Radu094 Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
 
 
I do not like what I have seen of the ribbon.  I already know how to use Word.  Rather than learn another Word, well, I have work to do.  For my word processing, I use Word.  For my programming editing, I use WordStar.  WordStar has much the better interface for me.  That interface counts for a lot.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
 
 
The Ribbon (part of the "Fluent UI") was a response to a feature set that grew from about 150 commands in Word 2.0 to thousands today ...

Personally, I like it.

It's definitely open - there's a whole dev portal devoted to it: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/office/aa905530.aspx.

I'm disappointed to hear such negative reactions from specific users here. My experience with ISVs is that they very much like having more/richer hooks to integrate with Office. ISV response has been quite positive. (ISV == company that write software to sell - my job is helping ISVs be successful building on top of the MS platform)

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft. My opinions are my own.

Good luck!
Patrick Foley Send private email
Friday, December 14, 2007
 
 
According to Paul Thurrott, at Windows IT Pro, he states, "Microsoft had briefly toyed with an Office 2007-style "Ribbon" user interface, but dropped that idea when it tested unfavorably."

http://www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/97860/Windows_97860.html

Another article he wrote on his own site complained that the control was too tall. That's my fundamental problem, vertical real estate.

When documents are inherently vertically oriented, and monitors have shifted to widescreen, it seems something like the ribbon control takes up way too much vertical real estate.
Bob Crosley Send private email
Friday, December 21, 2007
 
 
"Everything you can change in a document is right there in front of your face now."

No, that's not. Totally untrue.

Anyway, advanced users who liked to customise the interface cannot do it anymore. Amazingly, Jensen Harris (one of the Office 2007 developers) admitted that the first thing advanced users do is change the interface, yet they removed that option! Utterly irrational.

Basically, beginners to intermediate users like the ribbon, advanced users dislike it. (Advanced users who say they like the ribbon are not really advanced users.) I hate the ribbon because it takes up space and you can't customise the interface.

I had Word 2002 set up so that everything I did was one click away. Now, only my top 15 things are one click away (QAT) or one keystroke away, but the rest are many clicks away.

I find it annoying that Microsoft is forcing me to do things their way, and they have taken away the option for me to do it my way, which is better than their way. I would go back to Word 2002 except that Word 2007 is more reliable.

MS did have a problem - people didn't know where stuff was - but I could design a much better system.

One thing they should do is make the QAT floatable and shapeable, and available with a keyboard shortcut in any view and make the placing of tools on it easier (a search function).
Martin Gifford Send private email
Friday, December 28, 2007
 
 
I work for a company that has implemented the ribbon interface in three significant applications.  The users actually dislike using the "legacy" apps that still use menus after working most of the time in our new ribbon apps.

What I hear from my users is that they like how the major functional points (stuff they use everyday) is easily accessible.  The ribbon has also made training new users easier because our ribbon is logically designed to match the workflow of the given system.  It's faster for departments to ramp up new employees when the interface basically shows them what they need to do next vs. having to hunt in the menus for the proper functional point.

The ribbon (like anything else) can either be properly implemented or a complete catastrophe.  That, of course, drives user acceptance.  We use the DotNetBar by DevComponents and it allows us to adjust the vertical real-estate that the ribbon uses.  Not sure if other ribbon controls provide the same flexibility.

I've also used the ribbon control in a software product that I've built on the side for the academic education market.  It's a great differentiator between my product and the competition.  Everyone else is using toolbars and menus and I'm finding that the initial visual impact of seeing the ribbon when a new user evaluates my software is extremely positive.
Jason Send private email
Friday, December 28, 2007
 
 

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