Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I miss my handy Alt-Tab.

It is still there, but the new Access 2007 interface seems to have taken over more of my real estate and forced me to do more through the keyboard/mouse. I don’t see this as being any benefit to a user.

I will explain.

Under previous versions of Access I would open up the data base and be at a navigation screen:

From which I could Alt-Tab and back to my data screen – table, query, form or report:

As far as I have been able to determine, Access2007 implements this with a run-time switch through the Options pages (Pearl, Access options, Current database, Navigation) which forces me through a series of taps or clicks to achieve what used to be a simple Alt-Tab.

And yes, I’m whining again, but not just about change; I can’t see why this could be considered a forward step in any way.

Excel 2007

The new interface may make sense to new users, but I am not at all sure that it will make sense to anyone else. Not at first.

Here is how you insert a new sheet into a workbook.

You do it from the HOME ribbon:

Here is how you do not insert a new sheet into a workbook.

You do not do it from the INSERT ribbon:

Now my understanding was that the new interface would be intuitive, would guide the user, and for all that is holy, when I want to Insert something my eye is attracted to the Insert menu.

Maybe I am missing something here.

Maybe I am supposed to be thinking that Insertion is something I do all the time, so it ought to be in the Home ribbon. But that’s not what I think, and when my eye explores the user interface, a word like Insert is sure to leap out and attract my attention.

Excel 2007

I consider the interface for data Sort to be a retrograde step.

In the old Excel, Data Sort brought up a dialogue with, always, a spare key placed below the latest key:

In Excel2007, Data Sort brings up a dialogue with the requirement that I indulge in yet another tap/click to augment my set of keys. See that “Add level” button there? That is an extra step that appears needless to me.


Tables this time.

Once I am “in” a table, an extra ribbon tab appears at the right-hand side. Titled “Layout”, rather than the intuitive “Tables”. Intuitive to me, at any rate.

I can’t see anything but tables in there. Perhaps Microsoft has grand plans for Office 13. Sorry. 14.

I feel as if I have done little else but whine the past few days. It may be the pain of changing from what I know to what I don’t know, but if so, Microsoft ought to know that they will have an awful lot of unhappy migrators out there.

It gets worse.

Having found my way to Layout, and being happily ensconced in a table, I select the table and tap the right-arrow key to place myself between two tables.

The Layout ribbon disappears.

I tap the delete key to remove the paragraph mark between the two tables, joining them and placing myself back in a table, but Word2007 sulks at Home.

It would have been nice to stay in Tables, sorry, Layout for one more keystroke.

If not, it would have been a nice touch for Word2007 to recognize that I had placed myself inside a table and activated the Layout ribbon.

Finally (we hope!) if I want to wander around the old Conversion (Table To Text, Text To Table), it won’t be found in the Layout ribbon, where is found stuff dealing with tables. It will be found in the Insert ribbon.

What to make of this?

I could believe that Microsoft was absolutely stupid and had drawn the ribbon and command sequence name and location assignments out of a hat.

Or I could believe that Microsoft had spent years and millions of dollars with focus groups seeing what made sense to users. And acted on it.

In which case I would have to believe that the average user is not intuitive at all.


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