MS Office, Ribbons, and you

Devin Asay devin_asay at
Fri Feb 2 14:10:13 EST 2007


I'm trying to get my head around this. It is either simpler or more  
complicated than I think. How is this different from a template  
approach, as used in Apple Keynote or iDVD or Apple's Pages  
templates? I don't have VISTA or the new Office to see how it works.


On Feb 2, 2007, at 9:22 AM, Richard Gaskin wrote:

> Last year Dan Shafer shared this URL with us:
> <>
> That's a blog by the UI lead for MS Office, and most of it  
> describes Office's new Ribbons interface.
> If you haven't been following the story, the Ribbons UI is worth  
> learning about, and the blog is a great read.
> Dan also shared this background article from Jakob Nielsen about  
> the new Office UI:
> <>
> In a nutshell, the Ribbon UI breaks away from the primacy of menus,  
> expanding the concept of the toolbar with a smart use of  
> progressive disclosure to provide more visible access to a  
> program's features.  It's arguably one of the single most  
> significant innovations in UI design since this industry first  
> standardized on GUIs.
> It also represents a welcome return to the practice of having UI  
> designers from an OS vendor publicly discuss their usability  
> research methods. Tog used to do this with Apple back in the day,  
> but Apple no longer has any regular public communication about  
> usability research, at least none that I've seen since Jobs came  
> back to Apple.
> Another interesting aspect of Ribbons is that it's possibly the  
> most significant innovation Microsoft has implemented which didn't  
> merely copy an existing Apple feature.
> But for all the commitment MS has demonstrated with rolling out  
> this new paradigm in Office, the absence of Ribbons from Vista is a  
> curious omission.  Is Office merely a test case, and MS intends to  
> use Ribbons in a future version of Vista?  Or do the higher-ups at  
> MS doubt the efficacy of the research that led to the design?
> And for Apple, we wonder whether something like Ribbons will find  
> its way into their designs, or do they doubt the research or have  
> had a relapse of their NIH syndrome (Not Invented Here).
> For us developers, it also raises the question of whether we'll  
> take Microsoft's lead and adopt something like Ribbons in our own  
> applications?
> I've been prototyping a major upgrade for one of the apps I develop  
> which is strongly influenced by Ribbons, but I'm not going all the  
> way with it and will still have a full menu bar.
> Any of you thinking about Ribbons-influenced designs for your apps?
> What do you make of this shift?

Devin Asay
Humanities Technology and Research Support Center
Brigham Young University

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