Friday Rant - The Office Ribbon

Friday Rant - The Office Ribbon

Summary: OK, it's Friday, time to vent the frustrations and anger built up over the week. This post is the first of what I hope will become a regular series of rants. Some will relate to hardware, others not (and some, like this rant today, will touch on some hardware issues).

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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OK, it's Friday, time to vent the frustrations and anger built up over the week.  This post is the first of what I hope will become a regular series of rants.  Some will relate to hardware, others not (and some, like this rant today, will touch on some hardware issues).

My rant today relates to the new Ribbon user interface that is used by Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007.  I've been in contact with the Ribbon since early Office 2007 betas and while time has softened me to many things, this is one aspect that continues to be a major irritation to me.  I mean seriously, who thinks that this is is any better than the old-style menus and toolbars.  In fact, in my mind the design combines all the things that were wrong with menus and toolbars, such as small, ambiguous icons and the burying of features that you need regularly, and makes the situation worse by not allowing users to customize the ribbon.

I think the thing I dislike most about the Ribbon is that it's obviously been designed and implemented based on committee decisions as to where things should go.  At the same time as introducing Office applications that are obviously meant to be mouse-driven rather than keyboard-driven (if not, why get rid of the menu bar?), things that you want quick and easy access to (such as spell-checker and document properties) are now more clicks away than they were before.  It's pretty obvious that the Office developers think that there's only one way to do things - their way.

And another thing.  In an age where most people are running at screen resolutions of 1024 x 768 or greater, the icons on the Ribbon (and the toolbar for that matter) are getting too small for comfort.  I'd rather see a situation where I could remove all the unnecessary clutter off the Ribbon and choose to have larger icons.

And why get rid of the menu bar only to replace it with those new tabs?  The old "File ... Edit" menu bar had been around for years and was far from perfect, but at least it made sense, and even if it didn't, it had been around long enough for us to get used to it. 

Personally, I'd have been happier if Office 2007 had shipped with both the Ribbon and the old-style menus and toolbars.  (OK, it did, Word, Excel and PowerPoint have the Ribbon while the other apps still make use of menus and toolbars).  That way people could have made a choice as to which suited them best.  But failing giving the user a choice, how about a customization tool?  I mean, a fixed interface is so last century.

(BTW, if the new Ribbon does give you too much indigestion, there is a way to get back the menus and toolbars - for $29.95 Addintools have an add-in that brings back the classic interface.)

Does the Office Ribbon annoy you or do you find it a pleasure to use?  Happy with Office (or don't use it!) then feel free to rant about what else makes you mad or angry!  Go on, it's Friday so it's OK to have a rant!

Topic: Microsoft

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