Barney's Blog

Blog archive

Doug's Mailbag: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ribbon

Another reader comments on why the negativity towards the ribbon is counterproductive:

You know, sometimes you just have to accept change -- even if it's more painful, at first, than not changing.

I was once employed by a brick-and-mortar retailer. We used an OS/2-based point of sale (POS) system that was essentially 100 percent text-based. You pressed function keys to engage specific tasks, like ringing in a sale or a return. I was eventually tasked with writing a new POS, in-house, and entirely from scratch -- for Windows 95. Unfortunately, the main business goal was to minimize impact -- so I essentially had to eschew this great GUI-based environment and resort to having people press function keys. 

The moral? Sticking with an old paradigm for too long holds back functionality. It was years later than a successor developer was able to break the mold and finally create a real GUI-based POS, which was easier to use, easier to train new associates on and so forth. It also offered better transaction models, making for faster checkouts and happier customers, and the ability to more easily integrate new initiatives like gift cards and whatnot.

A new UI like the Ribbon can obviously be painful. Windows was painful for its first DOS-accustomed users. The Start menu was painful for Program Manager adherents. But, as readers Mike, Randy and Heidi point out, once you get used to it it can be easier and more productive. Heidi, in particular, is dead-on: Office's old toolbars had grown entirely too cumbersome as Office's functionality began to require an increasing number of them. Office was overdue for a fresher UI concept, and as professional technologists we should really just get on-board.

Personally, I'm not a big Ribbon fan myself. My next version of Office (Office Mac 2010) is Ribbon-ized, so I'll just have to get used to it. I'm sure once I do I'll be just as happy with it as I am with the current "Inspector" UI approach.

¬†Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected] Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/12/2010 at 1:17 PM


  • Microsoft Warns IT Pros on Windows Netlogon Fix Coming Next Month

    Microsoft on Thursday issued a reminder to organizations to ensure that their systems are properly patched for a "Critical"-rated Windows Netlogon vulnerability before next month's "update Tuesday" patch distribution arrives.

  • Microsoft Nudging Skype for Business Users to Teams

    Microsoft on Thursday announced some perks and prods for Skype for Business unified communications users, with the aim of moving them to the Microsoft Teams collaboration service instead.

  • How To Improve Windows 10's Sound and Video Quality

    Windows 10 comes with built-in tools that can help users get the most out of their sound and video hardware.

  • Microsoft Offers More 'Solorigate' Advice Using Microsoft 365 Defender Tools

    Microsoft issued yet another article with advice on how to use its Microsoft 365 Defender suite of tools to protect against "Solorigate" advanced persistent threat types of attacks in a Thursday announcement.

comments powered by Disqus