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Today what we have is the "Ribbon War". Some are disgusted about this "revolutionary" UI while others are welcoming it warmly. But rather than fighting over whether or not the ribbon is good or bad or whether it kiss its buttons goodbye, why not discuss where or how the ribbon should be implemented.

Here is my take on the Ribbon and UI in general

It can be safe to say that the Ribbon UI has worked out great in software like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, and the like. The main reason for the ribbon for being successful in those software is because the ribbon is serving its main purpose. The ribbon's objective for being is to make large software more feature accessible. This means that as some software gets larger and larger, it has so many features that organizing them into traditional toolbars and menu bars becomes a mess. Not all features are easy to find. Before Word 2007, many people, for example, requested that future versions of Microsoft Word should hve certain features even though Word had it for years. Those people didn't even know that feature because it was hidden somewhere in the large menus. The ribbon fixes these problems: it makes features easier to find and groups them in a way that can quickly tell the user what that features is about. As a bonus, the Ribbon is touch friendly. But there are places where the ribbon simply fails.

The ribbon was meant to be implemented in large software. Software like MS Paint or Wordpad isn't large! Here's the problem with feature limited software using the ribbon: It wasts resources. The ribbon, bu design takes space. It isn't a problem at all when the ribbon is full of interactive objects, but when it is just a nearly blank bar using hundreds of pixels of your screen, it looks ugly and poorly designed. Just open up Paint and switch to the View tab and you will see what I mean. Software like Nitro PDF reader uses the ribbon, but it too shows almost a blank ribbon bar. When I am running Nitro PDF reader on my laptop screen it takes almost 1/3 of my screen (I always have to hide the ribbon).

An example of a "Good Ribbon UI" Good Ribbon

An Example of a "Bad Ribbon UI" 95alt text95

When designing a software, it is very important to pay attention to the UI and the UX. I switched to Chrome on simply because of its browsing speed, more so because of its smooth UX and an UI that is great for browsing the net.

The Ribbon isn't and shouldn't be replacing the traditional menu bars and toolbars in all software. (Many software, like Visual Studio, or the simple Windows Calculator works best with the menu bar.) There are some software that utilize the ribbon better than others. I think mid-sized software like Nitro PDF reader should create a "hybrid" between a ribbon and a minimalistic UI. While paint is now better with the ribbon than those menu bars. But wouldn't it be nice if MS figured out a way to have a smaller, ribbon like experience for small, ribbonlike UI that looks just right for Paint, and the like. Many of the best software has a custom UI that fits it best.

What do you think?

What are your thought on the Ribbon UI? Do you think that many software is starting to use it even though the ribbon doesn't clearly work for it? Is UI concept like "minimalistic (aka chrome like) or "ribbon" (aka office like) becoming a fad, in that developers use it because its the cool rather than whether the UI works with the software? Post your comments below.

asked Oct 06 '10 at 22:02

Nazmus%20Khandaker's gravatar image

Nazmus Khandaker

edited Oct 06 '10 at 22:11

yes, I totally agree, simple save the breath to use it.

answered Oct 22 '11 at 14:20

tomatosoft's gravatar image


Personally, I like the ribbon. When I first started using Office 2010, I hated it, but I gave it a week or so. Now, I'm fairly sure that I'm more productive with ribbons than file menus. That's just me, of course. I hope Microsoft gives the option of either a ribbon or file menu in the future, that way, everyone can use whichever they prefer and can stop complaining.

answered Oct 24 '11 at 20:32

Data's gravatar image


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Asked: Oct 06 '10 at 22:02

Seen: 2,163 times

Last updated: Oct 24 '11 at 22:41