I did promise myself I would not use this blog to moan about Office 2007. But Jon Peltier brought it up over on DDOE and I couldn’t resist. And really my only issue is the ribbon, or rather Microsofts deliberate (and unnecessary) decision not to provide a compatibility mode. In fact technically in using 2003, I am using 2007 in ‘compatibility mode’, according to Jensen Harris.
I just think they asked the wrong question and so the ribbon (which is little more than a fat clumsy toolbar after all, don’t let the new name mislead you) is not the right answer.
Their question seems to have been: is the ribbon better than menus and toolbars? and maybe it is, I neither know nor care, that question is soooo irrelevant.
What they should have asked (IMO) is : is the ribbon better than menus and toolbars for all those people who have been using menus and toolbars for years, and have menus and toolbars in almost every one of the other applications they use? probably not.
In the UK we drive on the left, most other places drive on the right. Would it be better if we drove on the right too? or maybe everyone else moved over to the left? Probably so in theory, but does it make sense to convert?? no probably not, just like the ribbon.
Automatic cars are easier to drive than manual right? not if you’re used to a manual they aren’t (unless that’s just me (kangarooing down the road, unclear of what to do with my spare foot)).
To be frank I find Microsofts willingness to throw away my investment in learning their product quite alarming, especially as it is becoming a bit of a trend – anyone for classic VB?
One final thing; I think ‘Office’ is ruining Excel. Most people I meet are heavy users of only one (or maybe 2) office products, this senseless conformism is diluting the power of the individual applications. I’d love to see Excel (and maybe Access) broken free from the rest of office (except for these 2 everything else is a glorified typewriter anyway). Instead of the current 7 (seven!) 2007 versions they could have 2: Office WP – for word processing (word, powerpoint, outlook and all that other new stuff) and Office IW for information workers (Excel and Access). what do you reckon?
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some great new features in Excel, for all types of user (maybe not much for developers). For me though the pros of the new features are outweighed by the cons of the ribbon interface. Whats incredible is most people seem to be going through the same process: good=new features, bad=ribbon. I havent seen anyone I respect put the ribbon in the good category [Edit: but I havent actively searched for positive comment either] , its just for some the pros outweigh the downside of the ribbon. I could have a skewed view of course [Edit: There are after all lots of places I do not participate].
I suppose I should be looking at Office 2007 as a real opportunity, unfortunately I’m a bit too cynical for that, luckily I think my clients are too.
What about you?