Simon Palmer’s blog

August 24, 2009

Office 2007 Ribbon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — simonpalmer @ 11:55 am

I know I am a bit behind the rest of the world with this, but I just switched to Office 2007 (still on XP, I have seen nothing about Vista that I like or need). The really big change is the ribbon, which was a bold UI step given that you have to completely re-learn how to use the Office tools.

I’m not sure whether I like the ribbon or not, but I can see how I will get used to it. Truth be known, I can’t really claim to like the “classic” office menus either, it is more that I am familiar with them. If the ribbon had appeared before classic menus then the switch in the other direction would probably feel worse, so I don’t want to bash the ribbon – I just need to get used to it and I’m sure I will.

However, what I really don’t like is the amount of space that the ribbon takes up. I wouldn’t mind so much, but you can’t customise that element of it, so you are stuck with a good portion of the screen taken up by a bunch of controls you probably will never use.

I took the time to read a bit about what other people say about the ribbons as I was looking for ways to customise it. I think most of the reasoning was somewhat specious and self-serving since it ignores the fact that the real change is in the degree to which you can customise the ribbon bar and recover the real estate that it takes up. Pretty much all the hard-core Office users I know, particularly Excel users, have customised their toolbars to maximise real-estate and remove clutter, so, sorry, but I don’t buy the argument.

I just switched to a netbook with a 10.1″ screen and I really care about screen real estate. I was rueing the fact that I lost all the control I loked with the old classic toolbar and beginning to curse the ribbon when all was redeemed by mistakenly hitting CTRL-F1.

What CTRL-F1 does is shrink the ribbon so it only shows when you press on the menu item. Maybe I’m just attuned to this because I have a small screen, but it looks like a much better default setting to me…

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