mini ribbon dig

Some choice search terms that brought people here this week:

  • get rid of Excel 2007 ribbon
  • 2007 excel clasic mode
  • Excel 2007 no good
  • Excel 2007 clunky
  • revert excel 2007 interface
  • excel 2007 rubbish

Obviously its completely self selecting, still its reassuring to know I’m not the only person who thinks the Ribbon UI is pants.

Maybe we should start a petition ? (hehe – joke)

Maybe I should write a couple of positive posts about the ribbon (that would mean dripping sarcasm of course!) and see if the millions of ribbon lovers turn up and show the love. I assume there are millions of ribbon lovers? (apart from the massive User Experience Astronaut space stations staff of course)



17 Responses to “mini ribbon dig”

  1. Ross Says:

    I was looking though the windows API’s recently, I have some code that adds menus to a whnd, via an API, but I could not find one for toolbars – i was thinking of bugging some code together to try and provide a “classic mode”, – no dice.

  2. Simon Says:

    I’ve tinkered with the same sort of stuff – subclassing and SendMessage. I also tried hosting 2007 in a VB6 app, but didn’t finish.
    Maybe they are dragging their heals with SP1 cos they realised it needs a classic UI?

  3. Gary Says:


  4. Jon Peltier Says:

    As much as I don’t like the inefficiencies of the ribbon, I find that the dialogs which have been redesigned for Excel 2007 are particularly frustrating. The designers of these dialogs have dispensed with common sense and have actually violated Microsoft’s published guidelines for good user interface design. The UI parts for editing charts make me crazy, to the point that I’ve considered redesigning my own dialogs and a single charting ribbon tab as my first 2007-specific utility.

  5. Harlan Grove Says:

    Shame about the poor chart dialogs. Suppose it comes from making one charting engine to rule them all, so maybe the charting UI was redesigned by committee of developers from all the different Office apps.

    I’d stress that the new dialogs are independent of the ribbon. It would be possible to improve the dialogs or add support for new features to them (or screw them up) while also providing both a ribbon and a classic UI.

  6. Simon Says:

    I’ve had a vague look at some of these ribbon replacements, but they all seem to take up a lot of space.
    To be blunt the 2007 UI is so messed up the product is unusable for me. Paying a few extra quid to make it marginally less broken strikes me as a bit futile.
    Could I work with it? Of course I could. But I havent seen any compelling reasons to go through the pain. Especially when they’ll probably mess it up again/further in O14.
    If Microsoft Office’s strategy is the forced deprecation of the skill sets of their expert users for no payback then some of us may prefer to invest our efforts elsewhere in future.

  7. Harlan Grove Says:

    I think the current UI problem along with several other lingering problems is due to Microsoft’s lack of focus on Excel or any other particular Office app. Excel is just part of Office. Office is the product. Making it easier for the average Word or PowerPoint user to use Excel would seem to be the goal.

    The Toolbartoggle product Gary pointed out looks more interesting than the other ribbon/classic menu products I’ve seen since it appears to provide floating toolbars and toolbars that could be docked elsewhere than the top of the application window. If it could display docked toolbars *AND* hide the ribbon, then it’s the classic UI replacement for which world & dog have been waiting. Hide the ribbon. Dock the classic Worksheet Menu toolbar and the standard toolbar at the top. Actually, the classic status bar would still be missing, but I suppose it might be possible to kludge one together as a toolbar.

    Now for a rhetorical question: why is it necessary to use XLM or the OM’s ExecuteXL4Macro method to hide the ribbon? What does it say about how Microsoft views VBA that there are things one can only accomplish with XLM? If they do ever drop VBA, I hope they don’t drop XLM. If they ever do deprecate XLM, we’re sunk.

  8. Simon Says:

    XLM is allegedly on the way out soon, but I’ve read somewhere on-line of assurances that before it goes all that functionality will be available in VBA. (no mention of performance though – pagesetup anyone?). And I can’t remember if it was ‘VBA’ specifically, or some other, as yet undefined language.
    The XLM toolbar thing looks like an accident really, there were worries it might be ‘fixed’ in SP1, no idea if it will or not.

  9. Harlan Grove Says:

    More re my other point. In the following article on desktop Linux,

    there’s the quote

    ‘As long as the machines prove to be reliable, “the only real issue is the software people are accustomed to running, meaning Office,” Sterling said. Actually, meaning Word. “Most people don’t use Excel or PowerPoint,” he added.’

    If the ribbon is good for Word, it must be good for Excel.

    Then there are the implications for how much effort the OpenOffice developers will devote to Writer vs Calc if the key to competing with MSFT Office is the word processor. Thank God the Gnumeric team is separate from the Abiword team.

  10. Jon Peltier Says:

    Harlan –

    I think the chart dialogs were designed by someone without much dialog design experience, and with even less charting experience. Making the dialogs modeless seemed like a great idea at the time, but that decision pretty much killed F4 (Repeat Last Action). The dialogs are independent of the ribbon, but an equal sign of the change-for-change’s-sake that seems to have driven design of the overall new interface.

    It also seems that the Office UI design was not focused on the average user, but on the minimal Office user. Like public schools pacing classes to the slowest in the class, and ignoring the good students.

    It’s not XLM that hides (or customizes) the ribbon, by the way, it’s XML. Seems like a simple typo, but these are vastly different technologies. XLM is being slowly deprecated (i.e., smothered), and supposedly things we still need XLM for are being moved into VBA. Hopefully the things that VBA already does, but poorly (like page setup), will be fixed. However, judging from recent Office 12 experience, making things work is secondary to making things look pretty.

  11. Simon Says:

    how ironic, to customise the ribbon we use xml.
    to remove it completely we have to use xlm:
    Application.ExecuteExcel4Macro “SHOW.TOOLBAR(“”Ribbon””,False)”
    guaranteed to confuse!
    Try the above code – its pretty aggressive – removes the whole ribbon and blob window and all their functionality – Ideal if you have a replacement in mind.
    I wonder if the SHOW.TOOLBAR ribbon removal abilities will be migrated to VBA before XLM is end of lined?

    I totally agree on the form over function approach in 2007

  12. Harlan Grove Says:

    Off-topic, but there seems to be another Excel 2007 recalc bug, this time affecting tables and the calculation setting Automatic except for Tables.

    This probably doesn’t affect any of you, but if one of Excel’s selling points is that it’s taught in schools, minimizing nasty surprises for instructors should be a goal.

  13. Johan Nordberg Says:

    Am I the only one that really likes the ribbon? I think it’s far better the the classic UI. I really like the galleries and the Office button. I like the clean separation that the tabs is for the content and the office button is for the file. I thinks it’s much easier to guess where a command is located now than before.

    However, I do agree that the new charting dialogs are worse. Why can’t we still double click of the thing we like to change?

  14. Jon Peltier Says:

    Johan –

    I don’t mind the *idea* of the ribbon, just the implementation. I think they sacrificed a lot while designing it.

    One strength of the old command bar system is that some commands appeared several places, where they made sense. The Office people have come down with a decree that, except in rare instances, each command only belongs one place in the ribbon architecture. This makes it harder than necessary to find something by context.

    Last night I started building my replacement charting UI, which will consist of a ribbon tab and a handful of dialogs. Stay posted….

  15. Harlan Grove Says:

    I don’t have anything against the ribbon AS A MENU aside from the omission of some BUNDLED means to customize it from VBA (other than using VBA Open, Write, Close statements to write XML files). I lived through the menu makeover from Excel 4 to Excel 5 (and DOS to Windows versions of 123). HOWEVER, back when Microsoft had effective competition (when Excel 5 came out), they provided an Excel 4 menu as an option. [And, FWLIW, 123 always provided its classic menu.] These days they seem to be able to do whatever they damn well feel like.

    I have a LOT against the ribbon as the excuse to eliminate floating toolbars and toolbars docked elsewhere than at the top of the application window.

    The ribbon galaries COULD have been implemented as dialogs that could be accessed through a classic menu. IOW, the ribbon is NOT essential for most of the new functionality in which the ribbon expands to take up most of the application window.

    As for the Office button, what can I say? Opinions are purely subjective. To me, IT REALLY SUCKS! But I have the same opinion of most ‘classical’ music composed from the 1950s on.

    Consider standards. Microsoft has a well-deserved reputation for not giving a rat’s backside for standards. The Office button is a fine example of that. How many other Microsoft software products are afflicted with it? If it’s such a wonderful idea, when will it become part of Visual Studio? Or the admin tools for SQL Server?

    Then there are the inconsistencies. For example, is saving the current workspace a file operation or a content operation? Seems like a file operation to me, but it’s accessed through the View tab. OTOH, the old Edit > Links command is buried in the Office button when it arguably belongs in the Formula tab, ESPECIALLY since the old Data > Consolidate, VERY CLOSELY RELATED TO IT, is included in the new Data tab.

    Or how about inserting/deleting worksheets being accessed via Home > CELLS > Insert/Delete > Insert/Delete Sheet?

    Any menu, ribbon included, will have some screwy command placements under certain menus/submenus. Maybe the ribbon corrects some of the classic menu’s, but it adds a few of its own.

  16. Johan Nordberg Says:

    Hehe. Well. I really hate floating toolbars, so what can I say. :) I think task panes are OK since you can still dock it between the app window and the document. But panels like in Photoshop is just even. I don’t want the toolbars and pallets to float on top of my document.

    What do you guys think of the Office 2008 for Mac UI?

  17. Mike Says:

    I really hate the Ribbon. I actually went back to Office 2003 and because I can get things done without spending hours looking for where Microsoft hid a command that used to be easy to find.

    It’s also way too big, and you can’t dock it at the side (which would have been useful, given that there tends to be a lot of unused space on the sides, especially on a widescreen monitor. Of course, there are those who will argue that the ribbon doesn’t take more space than the old UI, and then they try to justify that assertion by telling you to turn on all the toolbars in Word 2003 and compare it to the ribbon. But come on! Who really turns on all toolbars at one time?

    When I saw a few screenshots of Visual Studio 2008, I saw a ribbon and thought “Oh no! They’ve ruined it!” but on closer examination I saw that it was just a control on the example project, and that VS2008 still contains real menus and toolbars.

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