The ribbon tabs are not automagically context sensitive, nor could they be.
But what they actually end up doing is just screen litter.
You have the home tab showing, perhaps doing some of this formatting that Microsoft is so convinced we spend so much time doing.
Next of all you actually do some work – perhaps import a text file, from the data tab. All good so far.
But then you go off and flick through the sheets to check something out – now the UI is just showing a bunch of irrelevant data commands even though you are doing some sort of informal review. And it will keep showing 100% irrelevant commands until you click another tab to try and find a command you need. 100% screen litter, easily cleared by using crtl F1, unless you are using Reuters, in which case you have to double click a tab to sweep that litter under the carpet.
In a proper UI, accepting that the software can’t know what you will do next, the UI should make few common activities from a range of scenarios instantly available – like for example, oh, I don’t know – Excel 2003?
Lets say you are unable to remember that find is crtl H and you use it regularly. You will probably eventually remember that it is right over on the right of the home tab. (you will never learn the keyboard shortcut from 2007) Over time time perhaps your mouse will move in that direction as you think about looking for something. But if the Home tab is not visible the route to find is not up and right, it is up and left, because you have to select the tab first.
Menus in Excel Classique are a bit like this – they only unveil themselves one step at a time. Lucky then that the toobars are stable so we can learn where on the screen a commnd will always be.
So in summary 2 problems with the tab nonsense
- It leaves irrelevant stuff on your screen most of the time
- It makes the navigational direction of commands unstable
- its HUUUUGGE!
Are you a tab fan?