Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering

The official blog of the Microsoft Office product development group

Minimizing the Ribbon: Exposed

Minimizing the Ribbon: Exposed

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It’s Jon again from the Office User Experience team. I started at Microsoft a little over 2 years ago and one of the things that inevitably happened is that I instantly became the IT guy for everyone I know. The nice part about this is that every now and then I get to show off something that’s really cool to impress everyone in the room.

When I get asked about Office 2007, an interesting trick I like to mention is the ability to minimize the Ribbon by double clicking on the active tab, pressing Ctrl+F1, or using the Ribbon’s right click menu.

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Word 2010 with the Ribbon minimized

Minimizing the Ribbon is great when I know I won’t be making many changes to the document and just want to focus on the content that’s already there. It’s helpful when I’m looking at a spreadsheet with lots of data to absorb, reading a very long document, or working on a laptop with a small screen size.

We thought minimizing the Ribbon was a useful feature for more than just the intrepid power users who discovered it in Office 2007, so in Office 2010 we’re bringing the functionality front and center (well, a little off-center). We’ve added an easier to find arrow widget next to the Help button in the top right of every Office 2010 application.

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Click the arrow to minimize the Ribbon so only the tabs show. Once the Ribbon is minimized you can click on the tabs to use them like menus. When it’s time to do some more serious editing, click the arrow a second time to expand the Ribbon so you can more efficiently get to all of the Ribbon’s commands.

Increasing the discoverability of minimizing the Ribbon is nice because now lots of users will be able to enjoy it. The only downside is that I’ll have one fewer cool trick to show off to friends and family.

Comments
  • In general, I love the Ribbon interface. Others are less enthusiastic, however. The main complaint I hear is that it takes up too much room. Almost everyone is using widescreen monitors these days, and vertical real estate is at a premium.

    Why not allow for a vertically-flowing ribbon option, along the left- or right-hand side?

  • I like that idea too.  

    I'm a big ribbon fan, but some people just don't like change.  Several coworkers refuse to like the ribbon, even when I can point out cases where it has greatly sped up their workflow.

  • That is indeed a nice little improvement.

    But overall I do have some questions for some specific changes your team has made to the UI:

    Why did you decided to remove the little arrow from the File menu button? It now does not fit in with menu buttons in the Scenic Ribbon in Windows 7 and the Command Bar in Windows Explorer and Windows Live Essentials apps. I think it now isn't clear that pressing that button will open a menu and not a new ribbon tab.

    And why does the user have to click on the items on the left side in the new Backstage menu? Like "Recent" or "Save As". It is usefull that I just need to hover over such items in the Office menu in 2007. It also works different to what people are used to now with the file menu in the Scenic Ribbon apps and the Windows 7 Start Menu.

    At the end I wanne add my personal opinion about the new branding of Office 2010: The new splash screen animation in the beta looks odd, the one in the TP was perfect! And why did you changed the logo of the whole product family to a orange one? Isn't there already enough orange branding in Microsoft products like Bing, Windows Live, Windows 7 apps? It does make the Office app family look less valuable. My suggestion would be to only use it as the new logo for Office Starter, because it does look younger and like a growing bloom but nothing like "collaboration" or "diversity".

    Thanks.

  • Hi,

    I agree with Matt's comment (the first comment) and would like to add that it is beyond my comprehension why wide screens had to force the "normal" 4:3 aspect ratio out of the market. While wide screen may be good for watching movies or playing games, for anyone who actually works with their computer, it's just a pain. They promise more screen real estate in the horizontal, but in fact they actually take away screen real estate in the vertical. Compare a 1280x800 widescreen to e.g. 1280x1024 that we have at work (ok, that's actually 5:4, not 4:3).

    Sorry, a bit off topic.

    Daniel

  • This is interesting, because the #1 problem I am currently asked about by users about Office 2007 is that the ribbon isn't showing up any more. The reason is that they've accidentally double-clicked the ribbon, hidden it, and don't know how to get it back because they didn't realise what they'd done to hide it in the first place.

    The new widget is a start, but I actually think it needs to be MORE obvious. Perhaps via a balloon tip that appears from the widget when you minimise the ribbon saying "You've minimised the ribbon. Click here to get it back..." or similar. This would of course need to be suppressible for those who know what they are doing.

  • @Daniel...

    Because what you lose vertically can be made for horizontally-- especially in Windows 7-- by tiling the Windows. At least, that's the theory. I still prefer good old 1280*1024 as my all time favorite resolution, but 1440*900 has really grown on me in the past year or two.

  • How about making the size of the ribbon adjustable? By making the icons smaller, like in IE, the ribbon would take up less room. Likewise, an option to include or not include text labels would save room. That way everyone can customize their ribbon to their liking.

  • This feature is cool. Having it officially available is even cooler.

    I would suggest one more feature: It would be nice, if the configuration of all these great programs could be locked, once they are suitably configured for the user.

    This would be very precious for less experienced users who like using the programs, but have a important risk of unintentionally breaking the config.

    This includes senior users and users in general which are not so fit with IT solutions.

    Of cours, unnecessary support would be greatly reduced :-)

  • @AngryTechnician: what you're basically describing is Clippy dressed like a balloon.

    "It looks like you've hidden the ribbon. Do you want me to help you get it back?"

    Let's not have any of that!

    @Chris, doesn't the ribbon automatically resize icons depending on the width of the window?

  • @JustPassingBy,

    Yeah, some Ribbon icons hide or shrink when you resize the window horizontally, but the real issue here is vertical space. The Ribbon devours about 85 up-and-down pixels no matter how you adjust your window.

  • I would prefer to have a Office 2003 style menu option. Stodgy and old it may be, but I could get what I needed to be done, much more efficiently.

  • I really like the idea of an option to make the ribbon vertical. I could see myself getting used to that. I am one who liked the ribbon right away as compared to the old menus. Being able to customize the ribbon to lesson it's height a bit would be very helpful. For example, in the home tab, I rarely use STYLES and could probably get my FONT and PARAGRAPH icons down to one row... I must say I am enjoying the Office 2010 Beta overall especially Outlook and Word, which I use most often. Good work.

  • I really the new ideas for microsoft 2010. I think that it will been a good experience to have new icons that we can work with that can help us out more with our projects.

  • I don't like the interface changes introduced in MS Office 2007 at all. The ribbon is a major productivity bottleneck. And dialogs like Format Cells are STILL modal, which in my opinion, is inexcusable. Office 2003 will be the last version of Office I will use. Subsequent versions are just too difficult and confusing to be of any use to me.

  • I have NOT upgraded to 2007 because of the robbon and I am just now trying the 2010 Beta.  I was up to 4:30AM 2 nights ago unloading 2010 and reloading 2003 Outlook to get my mail running again. I could not function in the new Outlook.  In case anyone is considering running both 2003 and 2010 Office your Outlook WILL be replaced. I missed that discailer. Also where is the Word option in saving my email?  I don't want to save my mail in a .msg format.  I want to save them as documents.

    What is it with MS that they can't hear the users.

    I am glad MS has made 2010 available to try before buy but unless they add some method of users to migrate slowly they are going to miss some big corporate sales still with 2010. 2003 works and MS has put too high hurdels to overcome the productivity loss to make this version worthwile unless they make changes before release.  

    PS Please don't suggest I get an aftermarket menu. 2010 Outlook crashed too many times with my PST for me to pay for some 3rd party software that can only make it more unstable.

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