Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

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Please take a look at a snapshot of my re-vamped UnderTheHood toolbar. I have compressed the eight-inch wide menu bar into a typical (for me) one-incher, almost.
It is an experiment, to see how I feel about one extra click to open up this new level of menu, and to see if it is a stop-gap solution to my problem with the AddIns ribbon in Word2007.

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.
This step is retrograde for me; it is more boring and repetitive manual work, and I’ve spent years trying to avoid just that. It is why I write macros and programs!

I have circled my new Under toolbar in the snapshot above.

Here is a snapshot of my new Under toolbar in Word2007:

Compare it with an earlier snapshot when Under had its screen-wide menu bar:

What do you notice?

My old method wasn’t handled very well by the AddIn ribbon. It displayed my broad Under toolbar, but compressed/hid the other eleven one-inchers off to the right, forcing me to click to locate them.

The AddIn ribbon didn’t appear to be smart enough to locate smaller toolbars in the unused space above and below my Under toolbar.

Maybe I should push Microsoft to use my BestFitToolbars macro!

Quick Access Toolbar

This is relevant.

The Quick Access Toolbar is where most users will probably place their toolbar buttons for home-grown macros.

The QAT can be placed either above, or below the ribbon.
“Above the ribbon” shares space with the application title bar; “below the ribbon” take sup more valuable screen real-estate.

Back it goes!


I’ve been asked to make a presentation next Thursday.
What better way to spend a quiet Friday evening than testing PowerPoint2007?
In my normal fashion, I fired up Word2007 and keyed in my text in Outline mode.
I figured a quick Alt-Tab to PowerPoint and I’d be done.

I think I have to learn about slip-streaming.

Maybe, maybe not.

I don’t have the CD required – I have the d/l files from Microsoft’s web site.
I drop PowerPoint2007 and revert to PowerPoint2000.

It’s a slide show from a text outline, right?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ribbon & Keyboard commands

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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.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

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Enough with counting the ways I love thee! Let me maintain a diary for each day and publish it at day’s end. Or wit’s end, whichever comes first.


I click my Quicklaunch icon to fire up my little contact database, Access2007 intervenes, but my customized “Find” control on my customized form won’t execute. It’s time to travel the same route as I took in Word and Excel.

To the “pearl”.

Access Options, Trust Centre, Trust Centre Settings, Trusted Locations, Add new Location.

I browse to the folder that holds my contacts MDB, check it and all subordinate folders on, conform out of there.

I find it necessary to exit Access and reload the beast in order to get the use of my customized buttons, but once that is done all appears well.

Later I realise that Access didn’t launch automatically into my startup form. In Access2000 I nominate a startup form:


I am using both the 2007 beta and a regular copy of 2000.

I notice that when I have been using Word2007 and then load Word2000, I go through a brief re-initialization period, perhaps five seconds.

When I flip from Access2000 to Access2007, I go through a longer re-initialization period, perhaps thirty seconds.

Worse, a “2003” box pops up:

with (image)

I watch three repetitions of this box, and manage to cancel it out of my life, for the time being.

The next time I load Access2007 I get the same warnings, so I yield my Office2003 CD to the computer …


Another proposal to be built. I open an existing one and unthinkingly tap the F12 function key to save it with a new name.

It works!

I am optimistic that all the inbuilt keyboard assignments will function as before.

One of my biggest disappointments to date is probably rooted in Windows rather than Office, but it is a disappointment none the less.

I’m spending some time in what was the old Tools, Options area. It is easy enough to get at – except that I can’t find a keyboard sequence, so in place of Alt, O, I must reach for the mouse, slide to the pearl, click, slide and click on Word Options, navigate to the panel.

The dialogue pops up with a stretchable interface – mouse in the bottom right-hand corner.

Why oh why couldn’t Office have let me use Alt-space X, or even double-click on the title bar, to maximize this dialogue and let my eyes do the walking.

It is probably a WinXP limitation, but oh! It is so sad to be forced to navigate more slowly than is really necessary. The stuff is all in there, once I can get my eyes on it!


This might be Office2007, but I’ve been in Word2007 today, so I’m telling it here:

I can’t help myself; I’m just too used to switching title case with Alt-O, E, T; I’m just too used to inserting a two-column table with Alt-A, I, T, 2. Word2007 pops up a small window saying something like “If you a serious about using the keyboard, er, carry-on, I guess. But you can always escape”, which leaves me feeling like a second-class citizen.

What was wrong with leaving the old keystroke combinations in place – especially if Word2007 decides it can recognize them (as it can, evidenced by the pop-up box).

I understand that we should all execute a 2007º turn and use the new features, but some of us will need a bit of time to change, and “the report has to be ready for noon today”.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Third Look

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I created a new document in Word2007 using one of my Under-The-Hood macros “TypeDateConst”. The macro ran (a good sign!) and I saved the document.
The document was saved with a DOCX extension.
Examining the file in Notepad I see the give-away initials of Phil Katz. PKWare.

Sure enough, I can view the file with PKZip version 2.6:

Word2007 documents are XML-based and are stored in compressed form.
Can I open a Word2007 document in Word2000?
Yes I can. I execute the docx file from within Windows Explorer, and since Word2000 is open, Word2000 receives it.
Office2007 must have placed cunning interceptors to obtain the document, and roll it back to the standard of the open word processor.
Now, this may work only as long as I have Office2007 installed.

Second Look

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I have changed my settings as best I can in the various options dialogues. Now it is time to restart Word2007 and see if I can create and save a document using my custom macros.
My toolbars can be seen in the AddIns ribbon, but not all of them are visible.
Here is what I see in Word2000:

Each of my application toolbars has been marked with a splodge of red paint.
Thirteen of them.
Two of the toolbars are quite wide, the remainder are about one-inch wide. Each toolbar expands into its own menu tree.
When I try to run my “Best fit toolbars by name” macro to re-arrange the toolbars to occupy the minimum amount of space, the macro crashes. I’m not really surprised.
Time to take a look at what has happened to VBA.

First Look

(You can view the text with images at

Can I run Word2000 and Word2007 simultaneously?

Yes. I’m typing this in 2000 while playing around in 2007.

That is a good sign.

The old toolbar is replaced by a “ribbon”. At first glance it has the appearance of a simple menu system that has taken over more of my monitor real-estate to offer bloated toolbars.

I am accustomed now to searching for favorite items in a reorganized release of Office, and true to form, File Locations isn’t found anywhere on the “menu” area. It is found by going to the “pearl”, top left-hand corner, ignoring the prominent items displayed on the left-hand side of that dialogue, choosing “Word Options” from the bottom border of the dialogue, “Advanced” within that, “File Locations” within that, and waddyaknow! Here’s the regular plain-looking File Locations dialogue box.

Lest you are thinking “It didn’t take long for him to start complaining”, be assured that I mention this here, this early, to warn you that many familiar actions will appear unchanged. Once you can find where they have been put.


(You can read the full article with images at

19:03 started installation

I need the product keyt that arrived in the email message "Microsoft® Office 2007 Beta 2 Confirmation & Product Keys"
I read the EULAID:012.0_B2_PRE.2_BTA_EN
I accept.
I elect to Keep all previous versions
I change the installation folder to C:\Program Files\Office2007 (I already have C:\Program Files\Office2003, C:\Program Files\Office2000, C:\Program Files\Office97)
19:10 I confirm my user information and choose Install Now.
19:16 I don't register for online service.

I Close the dialogue box
19:18 Activation kicks in ...
19:19 ... and here I am in Word2007.

A rather painless process. Sixteen minutes from Go! to Whoa!

I double-click on my web site Index.doc so that I can write up this article, and 2007 kicks in. Without my opened document. And without my customization. In fairness I have not touched the 2007 equivalent of Tools, Options, locations, Startup folder.
When I load Word2002 it runs through its own re-initialization routine. I notice that my customised Standard toolbar is missing. Wonder Why.

Obtaining Office 2007

If you don't yet have a copy (we are still in beta-release), you can obtain a beta release from Microsoft’s web site at

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Virtual Machines

I Love them. I have been building virtual machines, faking computers out of software, since 1970.

The latest publicly available VM include Windows-based products.

I am not using them. Why?

I am not using them because I want a fair appraisal of Office2007 on my system.
VMs protect me from vagaries of a product, but they run slow, and their graphic output leaves much to be desired.

I want this to be a real-world trial.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Original Installation

I will start with a brief description of my system.

I run a home office with several computers. The installation of Office 2007 will take place on one computer which is connected to a second computer by a standard 4-port router. Two networked computers, both running Windows XP (automatic updates).

The Big Beige Box is an older machine with Office 97 and Office 2002.

The Laptop in a newer machine with Office 97, Office 2000 and Office 2003. It is on this machine that I’ll install Office 2007 Beta.

The laptop has 2 GB RAM, 100GB hard drive, and hosts a 2GHz CPU

What do I have to lose?

At the worst I’ll be in for a complete re-install of Windows and three versions of Office, but with today’s hands-free installation from CD, it is not the time-consuming problem that it was a few years back when I had to shuffle twenty floppy diskettes.

And yes, what about Virtual Machines? A VM would help isolate harmful after-effects, but I am especially interested in how 2007 conflicts with my other versions. Trust me, if it goes berserk I’ll pull the plug, lick my wounds, and contemplate a new career in Kitchen Ecology.

Otherwise, I’ll plod along from one mistake to the next – and you will benefit from my experience.

I am a TrailBlazer!