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Friday, 12 March 2010

The Ribbon Interface, love it or hate it?

My recent post over on my Windows Live blog concerning the new screen grabs that  posted of the Wave 4 version of Windows Live Mail and its ribbon interface has prompted a very heated discussion regarding the merits (or lack of) of using the ribbon interface  in any applications and particularly its usage in Office 2007.

Cropped Ribbon for Windows Live Mail Wave 4Most of the complainers were  obviously very adept at using Office 2003 and  have resisted the usage of the new interface for mainly that reason.  As I am a computer user who is an advocate and champion for anyone who is either new to computing or using any application, then I am all for the ribbon. I applaud the reasoning behind its use and consider that it’s one of the very best ideas to ever emerge from Microsoft.

Word ribbon in Office 2007 I have requested that those who are complaining about it take a look at this video, where Jensen Harris explains the reasoning behind the introduction of the ribbon in Office 2007. If you take the time to watch the video, then try and imagine exactly what Office 2010 would be looking like now that even more features have been added, and also how difficult it would be to learn for any newcomer without the use of the ribbon interface then I think you will agree that it would be an absolute nightmare to get to grips with.

 I never attempted to learn to use  Office 2003 (thank goodness!) but I did beta test Office 2007 and was amazed how someone like me who hadn’t used Office previously could so easily create some very attractive looking documents so quickly and without having to ‘dig down’ numerous menu’s and toolbars in order to do so. It was all so intuitive.  How can anyone disagree with the aim to make any program or application easier to use? For a business using that software,  it saves you time when training  any new staff and it also helps to  increase production.  The other side of the argument is that it must be an annoyance to find that users don’t know about or ever use lot’s of the features that you have included in your program simply because its so hard to find them.

Writer ribbon I use Windows Live Writer to post to my blogs. I have used it from the very beginning and find it essential. However, I have been amazed at how many use it but aren’t aware of all the features that it contains and therefore don’t fully realise its potential.  The main reason for this is that I don’t think that they know certain features are available to them because you simply have to dig down into the menu’s/taskbar to find them.  The same can be applied to any program or application that contains lot’s of features and choices inside it, such as Windows Live Mail and also Live Photo Gallery.

The other advantage of course is that using the ribbon for your user interface then enables you to ‘do away’ with any  sidebar usage that is necessary without the ribbon,  thereby gaining real estate for your actual ‘work area’  a big plus in my opinion.

What do you think of the ribbon interface? Best thing since sliced bread or do you dislike it and if so, why?


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