Ribbon for Visual Studio

Harlan asks:

‘what would you all think of MSFT replacing the Visual Studio UI with a ribbon?’

I’ve always thought the ribbon is a novice interface, although MS disagree. In fact I said to the ribbon team that I would accept it was not a beginners UI as soon as it was incorporated into VS.

As I see it developer/professional tools as far as MS are concerned = SQL Server and VS (C# of course). Amateur/ non pro tools is Office and everything else. Devs get a decent UI that they can customise to improve their productivity, amateurs get the ribbon so they can’t confuse themselves (and the VBAIDE from decades ago!).

I’m assuming Orcas (VS 2008) doesn’t have the ribbon??

The big shame is that MS did not cater for the wide breadth of usage, and user ability, working on the Office platform this time around. I’m still hoping for something useful in SP1.

What does everyone else reckon?




14 Responses to “Ribbon for Visual Studio”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    Actually my formerly unstated belief is that if MSFT foisted a ribbon on developers, especially their own in-house developers, it might just hasten the ribbon’s well-deserved demise as an EXCLUSIVE UI.

    Excel’s ribbon can be hidden. There’s a newsgroup posting (I forget where) that shows how. What’s missing is support for pre-2007 toolbars. Modeless dialogs could be used to approximate them, but that’s a pain. When & if MSFT brings back ‘Classic’ toolbars, I’ll have no gripes against Excel 12 (though I suspect I’ll still point out where their ‘new’ dialogs were preceded by close if not identical work-alikes in Gnumeric and OpenOffice).

  2. sam Says:

    When I first heard that 2007 will have a new UI but no “Classic” option I was shocked.

    I remember that when they changed made insignificat changes to the start button in Win XP there was an option called classic start menu…..and I wondered the wisdom of not putting a similar option when a drastic change was made to the office UI in 2007….

    For people who want to have the benifits of 2007 without the ribbon pain there are products like Toogle Toolabr….but a an extra cost…MS’s loss is antother persons gain….

  3. Marcus Says:

    Hmmm. I recall when Win 95 first came out. It had an option to mimic the Win 3.x interface. We used it in a IT training company so we could have one O/S across the company.

    “I would accept it was not a beginners UI as soon as it was incorporated into VS”
    That sound more like a challenge than identifying a standard.

    P.S. How did Euspring go?

    Cheers – Marcus

  4. Ross Says:

    Yeah I thought the same thing. I suppose the VS IDE does actually work a bit diffrently from an Office UI though, so maybe if anything the ribbion might not be as painfull in VS, still would not want to go near the bloodly thing though. They would still have toolboxs etc right?

  5. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    When I view the Ribbon UI from an end user’s perspective then I see the benefits and advantages of it. I’ve discussed it with a few corporates and they really like it.

    When it’s viewed from a developer’s perspective I can conclude that due to the limitations to manipulate it make it more difficult then previously.

    However, what we need to discuss is wether this is the right approach or not. Perhaps we need to consider a different approach to implement customized solutions.

    No matter what we think of the Ribbon UI it’s here to stay so let us set focus on aspects that we can discuss and benefit from :)

    >>I’m assuming Orcas (VS 2008) doesn’t have the ribbon??
    That’s correct.

    BTW, it was very nice to watch Tdf in London as well as the first stage to Canterbury.

    Kind regards,

  6. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “In fact I said to the ribbon team that I would accept it was not a beginners UI as soon as it was incorporated into VS.”

    So if they put it into VS it’s YOUR fault ??!!

    I really believe (as I’ve said before) that MS is gonna do what MS is gonna do……

    The only REAL beef I have with the Ribbon is the complexity of customizing it. I should be able to maintain the riboon on a document basis, on the fly, using VBA code (or whatever replaces it when the time comes), in a way that’s relatively straight-forward and easily reproducable.

    Customizing the Ribbon should be accomodated for Devs as easily as they can manage Toolbars (excuse me CommandBars) now.

    Then the Ribbon would cease to be an issue for me at all.


  7. Simon Says:

    Dick – you’ll never pin that on me!

    Eusprig is this week, I’m speaking Thurs am, please come and throw rotting fruit. I had to give up a big night out on the Wed so I wouldn’t be too hung over.

  8. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    Minimize the ribbon : Ctrl+F1

    The Excel guy (David gainer) was spotted a number of months ago on his blog with a fairly crowded QAT (quick access toolbar). He had to disclose the fact, that it’s his way to work around the new MS playskool interface.

  9. Simon Says:

    Stephane – playskool is a brilliant description!

  10. Harlan Grove Says:

    Sandboxes, playskool UI. I’m waiting for the automated, randomly scheduled dialog displaying ‘Is it time for this little programmer to take a tactical pit stop?’

    Will VSTA soon come with a GUI ribbon customizer? Or will it take VSTO? How long will it be before the ONLY way to customize the Excel UI will require one or the other?

  11. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    “Will VSTA soon come with a GUI ribbon customizer? Or will it take VSTO? How long will it be before the ONLY way to customize the Excel UI will require one or the other?”

    I think the latest VSTO does that, even though it’s not WYSIWYG. It’s more XML editing, and pretty involved. To the point that I would instead recommend pschmidt’s ribbon tool : http://pschmid.net/office2007/ribboncustomizer/index.php

  12. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Anything I’ve seen, though, involves Application-level customization of the Ribbon. That just doesn’t cut it for me. It MUST be document-level or its useless to me. If you have to read or write XML there is no doubt we will run into problems with corps with standard images.

    Gotta be doc, gotta be run-time !!


  13. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    Biggus Dickus,

    You are absolutely right. Not just document level customizations by the way, I think if the VSTO guys were to realize that they could create a mechanism to embed .NET assemblies right within the new packages, that would fix a number of deployment problems.

    I wonder if that’s cluelessness (don’t think so), or if that’s mere business rationale, where they’ve got to stick to application customizations to ensure that Office 2007 is not undermined by any competition. In other words, that every single Office solution developed out there helps sell Office 2007 licenses.

  14. Simon Murphy Says:

    The ribbon has a strong justification in the user experience program clicks that MS collected as part of XP and 2003 (I think). I don’t know of any intermediate or above user, or any sys admin, or any organisation that did not disable that feature as a potential security issue (information leakage). And of course many serious users are still on 2k.

    So in my mind the Ribbon is the product of utterly skewed, not representative (ie crap) data.

    There is no document level customisations because the tainted sample of users they got feedback from are not the ones who use that. They are the ones who do their shopping list in Excel and add numbers on a calculator and type the total in.

    Shame, because Excel 2007 has some great features.

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