Friday, July 21, 2006

Ribbon & Keyboard commands

(You can view the text with images at


Please take another look at the Ribbon, from an earlier snapshot.

My first take is, no matter how Microsoft have re-engineered the interface to make it easy for 99% of the users, it is at a significant cost in real-estate.

I am strong on real estate, because I know that my eyes/brain can search a large area faster than my hands/wrists can move things around. “A six-foot wide plasma screen fed from both computer systems” (if my budget could manage it), since you ask.

I have labeled three areas in the snapshot above.
1. What used to be the title now contains a QAT a.k.a. Quick Access Toolbar, if I got that right. Users can customize this by dragging icons to it. You want the old full-page view up there? It is yours!
2. What used to be the first line of many toolbars is labeled “2” in my snapshot. Depending on the versions of Office you have been privileged to use, you will remember the Standard and Formatting toolbars being squashed together, meshed, or mish-mashed in this region
3. The new stuff, “3” in my snapshot, occupies 4 lines or rows of my turf. (an early typo had this as “line sorrows ”!)

You click on a tab in the “2” area, and a new set of doo-dads opens up in the “3” area. That is. The old menu area serves to bring in what we would have called a set of toolbar/menu/buttons. Overall Microsoft’s approach seems to be to introduce an extra level of menu-ing to accommodate the increasing number of user-interface options.

So far so good.

As I understand it from my as yet limited reading of “ribbon” in various developers forums, the good thing about ribbons is that the contents do not change. You saw it here yesterday, you will see it here tomorrow.

I see this as good because I like to know where I can find something when I want it.

Looking for a tool is an extra problem, not part of the solution to the original problem.

I see this as bad because my screen real-estate is now committed to stuff I may never use.

So, I thought about the good old days, and a snapshot appears below:

What do you notice?

That is right! I was yielding 5 lines of turf anyway.

The screen snapshot above looks odd to you because there is almost nothing left of my Standard Toolbar (thanks Woody Leonhard!) and a large part of the first two rows of my area three are taken up by my Under-The-Hood toolbar and my MRUse drop-down list of the files I have worked on over the past 15 days. The remaining toolbars ) “WbWrd”, “Preci” etc.) have been cozily re-arranged to occupy minimum space by my BestFitToolbars macro, and each toolbar is a menu system. Compact.
The bottom line, is that yesterday I was hogging 5 lines of turf, today I am hogging 6.

Without my appetite for add-in applications, the score would probably have been “Yesterday 3 Today 6”, a doubling of space, a significant reduction in turf.
My time-saving toolbars are arranged in an “add-ins” ribbon, and I will more to say about that later!

Word 2007 Keyboard commands

Irk! Irk!

This is annoying.

In Word 2007 I am using my old keystroke mechanisms. They work, sometimes.

Sometimes they don’t.

I’m trying to switch to Normal View so that I can see my styles margin.

I type Alt V and the little box pops up.

Word2007 has recognized “Alt V” and invites me to type in the next letter which, in my version of Word2003 (and Word2000 and Word97) is the letter “N” for Normal.

Won’t take.

I’ve tried several times and I can’t get it to recognise my request.

Oddly enough Alt V P switches me to Page mode. That’s good.

On a whim I tried Alt-V D and it switched me to Draft mode, which is what Microsoft appears to have renamed Normal as. If you’ll pardon my exasperated syntax.


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