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Author Topic: To cut or not to cut - The lousy MS Office ribbon  (Read 17219 times)
AndyM
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« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2007, 11:14:31 AM »

The other thing is that you cannot customize the ribbon unlike the old toolbars.
Why do people keep saying this? Right up above in this same thread I debunked this: http://www.donationcoder....ic=7991.msg57106#msg57106

Like you said in your post:  "requires manipulating XML files that describe the content of the ribbon, and probably not appropriate for anything less than an extreme power user", this is not customization the old way, and the new way is way too technical for the average user.  So you are not wrong when you say the ribbon can be customized, but the reason "people keep saying this" is that MS has made the customization much more complicated.

I won't have Office 2007 for quite some time, so I don't know what's involved in editing the XML file, but I'm guessing it won't be something done as quickly or easily as Tools>Customize, and dragging some icons around.
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2007, 11:59:06 AM »

Naturally you're free to dislike the Office 2007 UI, and it's really none of my business whether or not you use it. But it really bothers me that people seem to be unjustly poisoning something that might be a revolution in windowing UIs. (and maybe it's not; we won't know until enough real people get to play with it)

The fact is that the O2K7 UI is customizable. Extreme changes require power-user expertise, but simple tweaks are actually easier than ever. And MS's user research (which agrees with my personal experience working with users) agrees with this:
Quote
Looking across a hundred million or so people using Office 2003, here's what we found:
  • In fewer than 2% of sessions, the program was running with customized command bars.
  • Of the 2% of sessions with customizations present, 85% included customization of four or fewer commands.

...
It breaks down like this: in ~1.9% of sessions, buttons have been added, removed, or moved between toolbars and menus...

Of the customized sessions, around 85% of them had only what we'd call minor customizations: four or fewer buttons. Most of these are added toolbar buttons, either from the command well or from a toolbar people don't want to keep up all the time...

So, we took a pragmatic approach and decided to focus on the 99.7% case: people who don't take advantage of customization or only use it to customize four or fewer commands. Out of this goal was born the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Quick Access Toolbar is designed to make it easy to add controls, galleries, and groups from anywhere in the Ribbon: just right-click the thing you want to add and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" from the context menu. We designed the customization model to be efficient but with the goal of "zero customization complexity"; it would be unacceptable for customization to cause the user interface to degrade as it did so often with Command Bars.
http://blogs.msdn.com/jen...ve/2006/06/27/648269.aspx

So, 98% of the users do no customization and aren't affected. An additional 1.7% do very minor customization, which is actually easier now than ever before. Only 3 people in 1000 are inconvenienced by the change in customization behaviors. This seems like a big win to me. If you disagree, you should probably take a step back and consider who the primary audience of this software is.

Nevertheless, even if it's intended to cater to the vast majority of users, there's still the possibility that the manner in which it does so misses the mark. But we should let the game play out and see how users are actually able to interact with it. Convincing them that it's bad, before they ever use it, and based on an argument that's an exaggeration at best, is not going to give us the answers we need to better design our UIs in the future.
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AndyM
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2007, 04:34:21 PM »

So, 98% of the users do no customization and aren't affected. An additional 1.7% do very minor customization, which is actually easier now than ever before. Only 3 people in 1000 are inconvenienced by the change in customization behaviors. This seems like a big win to me. If you disagree, you should probably take a step back and consider who the primary audience of this software is.

I don't disagree because I do understand the software has been (hopefully) engineered to work better for the majority of users.  I'm one of the .3%, so the inconvenience I will experience when/if I upgrade is the time I spend on customization.  I'm sure it will be interesting, and time consuming.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2007, 05:17:08 PM »

Also .3% of the user base is still a hefty number of users (probably over a million) when you consider how pandemic MS Office is on people's systems.

What about other plugin toolbars? (For example how does something like MathType integrate in Office 2007 - in all other versions it adds a toolbar, similarly Adobe Acrobat)
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Hirudin
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« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2007, 03:42:38 AM »

That's great! It's always nice to have some numbers to back up what you believe. Looks like MS hit this nail right on the head here.

If the menus are customizable via XML, here is a perfect opportunity for some intrepid programmer, maybe even someone here on DC, to design an "Office2007 Menu Customizer" program that will display the current ribbon, let people customize it easily, output the XML, and maybe even inject it into O2K7 automatically. Charge $5 a pop and make some quick money, or be cool and give it away for donations.

I wonder how many Office owners NEVER open Excel?
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MrCrispy
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« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2007, 05:17:35 AM »

If Office 2007 were an Apple product, everyone would be dancing and doing cartwheels over the simplicity and the ease-of-use. I want choice as much as the next guy, but there's a lot to be said for a consistent approach that serves 99% of my needs.

Most of the complaints are from people used to their shortcuts and menus from previous Office versions. Give both to a new user, let them discover how things work, and I bet they'll like 2007 much more.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2007, 06:19:07 AM »

BUT ... is Office 2007 really aimed at new users? Where are these new users coming from? If you wanted an Office app you have a choice of Microsoft Office (by far the major player), Corel Wordperfect Suite (long time struggling suite) and Open Office (if you want a cheap/free office app you aren't going to move to MS). There are some others out there but they are all really small fry by cmparison with MS Office !

I suppose it might be but truly new users must be a truly tiny proportion given that Office has been out there since the early 1980s in its pre-2007 format!

The ribbon is more likely to have appeared as a response to really bad publicity affecting ALL upgardes since Office 97 - namely that almost nothing new was added! No one can say there is nothing new in O2007 - whether it really lives up to the hype is another matter.

I haven't spent long playing with the ribbon but I have to confess I quite liked the approach but whether it is worth the proce of an upgrade .... I think I am skipping Office 2007 and Vista and see what happens next.
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jacquesrober
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« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2007, 12:13:42 PM »

There is a possible solution to this question: to cut or not to cut.
This software: http://www.addintools.com...sh/menuoffice/default.htm can rollback the ribbon to give you the classic look of office 2003 and also keep some of the best features of the ribbon.
It is not free and can also apply to excel.
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JR
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« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2007, 05:13:26 PM »

Carol, what I was trying to say is that the Office time took the risk to totally revamp the interface and break backwards compatibility to make it better, after they did a lot fo research to find out what would make the best UI. All the complaints about the ribbon bar are that its too unfamiliar, not about its usability.

The biggest market for Office is business desktops and I imagine all new employees would count as new users smiley But I agree that the majority of people will have to undergo a significant adjustment period for Office 2007 and Vista. Is that a good thing? Depends on how you feel about change!
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wasker
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2007, 09:33:31 PM »

I tried O2007 beta -- Ribbon is fantastic.

About screen real estate: it could be "auto hidden", so I don't see any problems here.
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lanux128
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2007, 09:52:27 PM »

About screen real estate: it could be "auto hidden", so I don't see any problems here.
exactly, that was my point here.. smiley not to mention the 'guided' keyboard shortcuts.. but the ribbon has become something of love-it or hate-it object.. smiley

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zridling
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« Reply #36 on: April 23, 2007, 01:57:58 AM »

MrCrispy I beg to differ. The problem with the ribbon is that it wasn't researched using Microsoft users, only a few Microsoft Office developers. No user called for a big, fat, steaming pile of icons that seem fit for a 1st grader (no insult intended) rather than a computer user. Microsoft Office is the de facto office suite software, and the "problem" they described was that users weren't using enough of Office's features. However, the ribbon isn't the answer. Brian Jones has let it slip a few times that the origin of the ribbon was to lock down Office's interface; to prevent broad customizations by users because it made tech support's job more difficult.

Think about that. Who's doing tech support for the entire world these days? Not someone in Redmond, but "Susan" or "Mark" in India.

I had a contract in 2006 to introduce Office 2007 by beta-testing it among twelve small businesses, and not a single one of them voted to move to it by the end of the year. They all voted to stay with Office 2003 or migrate to OpenOffice 2.x. On the contrary, new users were perplexed on where to find things. Experienced users even more so, because the new UI is just inefficient — if you can type. If you can't type more than a few words a minute, then keeping one hand on the mouse with the ribbon is a really, really slow way to create documents. It's not change people are afraid of, it's screwing up a good thing (as Vista did with so many UI elements) such as Word 2007's keyboard shortcuts!
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« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 02:00:16 AM by zridling » Logged

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JeffK
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« Reply #37 on: April 23, 2007, 02:05:27 AM »

I can't type, and that's probably why the ribbon doesn't appear to slow me down.  I like the improved right click menu in Excel 2007.

However I also have NovaMind mindmapping program which has an Office 2007 lookalike ribbon.  And it does slow me down.  It makes the ability to quickly add branches and subbranches to a mindmap quite slow and counter intuitive compared with similr applications IMHO.

Jeff
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2007, 03:57:03 AM »

I don't object to change (or the ribbon idea) what is daft is that they haven't offered it as an option!

If users could choose the ribbon or trad interface that would be ideal as it would cater for experienced users who like to customise or just find the old ways more efficient for them and also the '1st graders' with the nice pretty piccy interface.

Changing shortcuts is just plain stupid - talk about setting out to alienate their user base ! Good shortcuts become instinctive with use - changing them is like giving users a whole new keyboard with the need to learn to type again from scratch.
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wasker
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« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2007, 06:28:02 AM »

MrCrispy I beg to differ. The problem with the ribbon is that it wasn't researched using Microsoft users, only a few Microsoft Office developers.

Oh yeah? I should check my badge -- maybe I'm 'softie already. tongue
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dhuser
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« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2007, 08:33:26 AM »

The ribbon was a good idea before it was developed and put into practice. I agree that the ribbon might cause confusion and and is wasting space.

Most new ideas are praised, until they are put into practice.

(On a side note, the CompUSA store that it is closing by me, has Windows Vista CDs for 40% Off and is sold out of Office 2007 CDs.tellme)

dhuser
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wasker
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« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2007, 06:05:04 PM »

dhuser: where're you? Maybe I should stop by and shop... smiley
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dhuser
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« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2007, 06:39:04 PM »

dhuser: where're you? Maybe I should stop by and shop... smiley

In Long Island, New York...
Google Map (of CompUSA Store location)- http://www.google.com/map...amp;oi=local&ct=image

(it is about a 15-20 minute trip from my house)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 08:42:51 AM by dhuser » Logged

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Curt
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« Reply #43 on: May 14, 2007, 10:38:05 AM »

Ribbon haters should read Computerwold's article about  pschmid's RibbonCustomizer (Free or $30 Pro versions) and Addintools' Classic Menu (several versions at $15-$30).


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Curt
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« Reply #44 on: May 17, 2007, 06:08:29 PM »

Ribbon haters should read Computerwold's article about  pschmid's CustomizeRibbons (Free or $30 Pro versions) and Addintools' Classic Menu (several versions at $15-$30).

They have been around just as long as Office 2007 itself, but maybe you missed them, or just didn't think of it. But it seems to me, from your wordings, that these two plugins must be very interesting to you, since you "love to hate" those ribbons that much... 
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RibbonCustomizerâ„¢ Professional V1.1, $30 - Feature Tour:



- and the other:

Addintools Classic Menu for Office 2007 $30, "full" version 2.18 of April 15, 2007:





Now; Who is going to try out these plugins, and let us know the outcome?
 tellme
« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 06:22:05 PM by Curt » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #45 on: May 17, 2007, 06:20:29 PM »

Bit bizarre that people have to spend $30 to remove the main difference in O2007 - isn't the simpler solution to stick with Office 97/2000/XP/2003 that you used before? What is the point of the upgrade without the ribbon interface? (That's why I am not bothering).
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Curt
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« Reply #46 on: May 17, 2007, 06:26:41 PM »

Yes, if you are a private user, but most users aren't. They work at the office and don't have a say on what program they are to use, have they.
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Grorgy
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« Reply #47 on: May 17, 2007, 06:49:43 PM »

I s'pose someday i'll be forced to upgrade, but at $500 or $600 to get the basics or around $1000 for the lot, i'm going to put it off for as long as possible, Office 2003 does all i require and a load more besides, most of which i probably dont even know about  embarassed 
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #48 on: May 18, 2007, 02:18:03 AM »

Yes, if you are a private user, but most users aren't. They work at the office and don't have a say on what program they are to use, have they.

And most of those Office workers won't be allowed to install extra plugins to revert to a preferred interface anyway!
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lanux128
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« Reply #49 on: May 18, 2007, 02:27:41 AM »

TechRepublic have this interesting PowerPoint presentation that encourages users to upgrade to Office2007. they also have another presentation that says that "Sticking with Office 2003 is a better choice than Office 2007" but it is only for paying members..


http://downloads.techrepu...ad.aspx?&docid=295809

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