The Ribbon UI
This page is my attempt to pull some of the ribbon debate off the main thread of posts. Its clearly an emotive issue with strong views both ways. I think it would improve the blog for us all if we could try and focus ribbon related content and comments on this page. Post the full comment here, and link from a post if you like.
Here is my view:
- Its too big
- its too inflexible (how do I remove a button once I’ve learnt a keyboard shortcut?)
- It wont dock at the side, yet widescreen format was already becoming the standard before it was imposed
- No tear off toolbars to relocate where they are needed.
- Inordinate focus on formatting for a software development tool
- the right click menu blocks sight of way too much spreadsheet.
- The blob is a UI embarrassment
- Its too hard to pick up for experienced 2003 users
- Its very hard to work in 2003 and 2007 because of the UI
- It kills performance
- Take up is slow because of it, and that has a knock on effect for many service providers
- Its inaccessible to xlls – no more single file deployments
- The shuffled commands are not more logically grouped
- The shuffled commands are not easier to find
- There is no classic alternative to allow people to transition when it suits them
- No credible justification has ever been offered
- A whole pile of unrelated stuff has been swept behind the blob making it hard to find and access.
- I havent mentioned code and customisation as I havent had need to do any, I understand thats as poor as can be expected.
- It gives nothing back for all these negatives
And on the plus side:
My real concern though is this:
We are knowledge workers, we combine domain knowledge, IT (eg SDLC) knowledge and system/application (eg Excel/VBA) knowledge to provide meaning. To needlessly deprecate our learnt skills in any area is to strike at the very heart of the knowledge worker model. Thats a bad more for a company that targets that market with most of its products.
Time will tell how serious a mistake this was, my feeling is its a defining one.
I could live with it better if there were pros and cons, give and take, etc. But really its takes so much and gives absolutely nothing. it has no new useful functionality for interacting with Excel. Its just such a monumental waste of everyones time and effort. (Google twatdangler for the nearest other thing)
Oh and the other thing that really frustrates, is the ribbon really devalues the work the product teams did. Whilst E2007 may not be perfect, my view is there are a lot of good things there, but we are locked out by this inane barrier some ignoramus imposed.
Here is what I have done:
I’ve complained _discussed_ long and loud by blog, newsgroup, email and face to face, to the Excel team, to the ribbon team and the office planning team. And of course to the delightful Mrs Smurf, (FWIW she thinks its a disaster too and won’t use it). I have never kicked the dog because of it. I haven’t started an online petition (or a crusade btw), I haven’t written to my MP. I did warn them it would drive customers away which it has.
How can they fix it?
Well just enabling a classic option would solve most issues, or even just opening it up a little so we can write our own UI.
One of the Ribbon team asked me what it would take to turn the ribbon from a negative to a positive, or at least neutral for me. I put 2003 on the projector and said ‘that’ -flexible, programmable, familiar to 400 million existing users.
Why do I think they did it?
I honestly have no idea, I don’t believe anything I have read could justify the turmoil this UI is having on the market. Apart from the biggest marketing blunder of modern times that is.
Do I think it will go away?
No. At one time I thought they would hold their hands up and make it right. Now I think people who stay with Microsoft Office will bump against some form of it eventually. I think there will be a lot less of them going forward.
Are there other names for it?
The ribbon is just the fat clumsy toolbar bit, the whole thing is officially called the Fluent UI. I like(d) to shorten that to the effluent UI. I quite liked the Calamity UI too, currently I’m just calling it the FAIL UI ™. Don’t I think calling it names is a little unprofessional? Nowhere near as unprofessional as devaluing 400 million customers’ investment in learning your (prior) product.
I’m not campaigning or crusading here, I’m not trying to change anyones mind. I’m just calling it as I see it. Feel free to agree or disagree as strongly as you like, preferably in comments on this page.
I am now going to try and refrain from moaning (much) in the posts. (I might add stuff here instead)
Please add your comments, highs and lows.