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Microsoft Ribbon for WPF

by Jonathan Allen on Aug 04, 2010 |

Microsoft has released a new preview of their WPF-based Ribbon control. The Ribbon is a replacement for the traditional menus and toolbars and was first offered in Office 2007. Microsoft spent millions on usability research and it so proud of their results that they only allow others to imitate it when the follow strict design guidelines. Though royalty free, any violations of the Ribbon guidelines must be fixed within 6 months or Microsoft will revoke the license on the associated patents.

Given the daunting task of implementing the whole Ribbon design, some developers have turned to commercial vendors or open source projects. Others have simple waited for Microsoft to produce an official version for .NET applications. One such version was demonstrated last year, but with serious bugs and a clumsy API.

On Monday an updated version was finally released that appears to have fixed all of the bugs and API design flaws. Breaking changes include removing the need for adding a RibbonCommand to every menu item and explicitly setting the button resizing. Making the necessary changes doesn’t take long and the use of standard ICommand bindings is much welcomed.

Sample code for both traditional and MVVM style applications is included with a separate download. That download also includes source code for the Ribbon control itself, but this is not an open source project. The license states:

We have also included a reference copy of the source code for the RibbonControlsLibrary. This is not sample code. You may use this source code form of the RibbonControlsLibrary within your company as a reference, in read only form, for the sole purposes of debugging and maintaining your products to run on a Microsoft Windows operating system product.

The binaries and samples are available on Microsoft Downloads.

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This is not a preview... by Paul Lunt

According to MS, this is now a proper release and it is no longer available for download via the CTP Codeplex site.

UI leadership by Robert Sullivan

Is this from the Office UI folks? because one of the funnier comments out there, pretty much sums up my feelings about the "innovation" at MSFT currently:


"And it would seem that OpenOffice can't use the ribbon interface. I have nothing against OO but it makes me feel good that they can't just rip off the interface like with previous versions."

Detroit Muscle writes in reply "Not using the ribbon UI is one of the major selling points of OpenOffice right now."


Too funny. Basically, I'm stunned at how bad the new Office UI is. And while "Cyronix" at the post above says everyone he knows, even his "mum", likes it, everyone I've talked to doesn't. Cyronix demands some examples, here's one: For a long time Office user, where in the blazes is the "save as"? So I'm supposed to know that that goofy but slick windows icon is a hidden menu? That is simply nuts. I find myself having to use the help constantly to figure out how to do the simplest stuff, that used to take two menu clicks, now not only can I barely find the option, but sometimes it's very complex.

They blew it. This makes it all the easier to switch to the Mac, since users have to unlearn everything anyway. And the Mac has it's faults, but at least I can always find the menu bar - unlike IE7 (now I'm using IE 8 and have found where to turn the thing on, but now it's under the URL text box, bizarre, what sort of new standard is this? I'm sure there's a good explanation, I just don't think this is cutting-edge stuff.)

So count me as not impressed, nor looking to MSFT for UI innovation, that's clearly in the realm of Apple right now, everybody else is playing catch up.

Re: UI leadership by Robert Sullivan

More reading here:

redmondmag.com/articles/2010/04/01/the-great-ri...
Is this from the Office UI folks? because one of the funnier comments out there, pretty much sums up my feelings about the "innovation" at MSFT currently:

Re: This is not a preview... by Jonathan Allen

That's strange. I was told last week that it would just a release canidate with a go-live license. Would you happen to have a reference on that?

Re: This is not a preview... by Paul Lunt

Well, I installed it and license agreement had no redistribution restrictions to suggest it wasn't a full release.

Also, the CTP on Codeplex is no longer available for download.

Update: This is not ready for production use. by Jonathan Allen

Upon further review, I cannot recommend this product for production use. It is causing rendering problems. For example, after scrolling in a data grid I find that the row I click on isn't the row that gets selected. When using a tab control in the content section, selecting a tab does not always cause it to display that tab's content.

Using a small test application...

* This does not occur in the older version.
* Resizing the screen will cause it to rerender correctly.
* This behavior is not consistent
* Removing the ribbon does seem to correct the issue

Re: UI leadership by Saied Khanahmadi

Hi Jonathan,

If you look through our EULA, there is no mention of the Office Fluent UI guidelines. The WPF team heard a large of number of complaints regarding our licensing approach and we addressed it in this release. The Microsoft Ribbon for WPF release is NOT bound by these guidelines.

The design change to move to an ICommand-centric model was mainly to support the MVVM paradigm, which WPF developers and designers are already familiar with. It's great to hear that it's much welcomed.

We've included sources as a separate download. This is not an open source project, it's for reference purposes. That particular MSI also includes two sample projects that you can modify, copy, and distribute. They are specifically marked as "sample".

Thanks for trying our Ribbon,
Saied Khanahmadi

Re: UI leadership by Jonathan Allen

Thank you for the clarification Saied.

Re: UI leadership by Robert Sullivan

I'm rereading my e-mail and, since there's no way to delete it (classic mistake), I'd like to take a moment and apologize for the negativity present in these e-mails. Apparently 3 years of working with the new version of Word and Excel, and probably much more angst due to time pressures in getting various documents out seem to have culminated in this little vent. I'm sure there is quality work put in to this library and so my comments were in no way directed at that, more at the fact that I am fully aware that msft puts great effort into designing their UI (I'm pretty happy with Windows 2000-XP), so I'm just a little surprised at this new UI. There are probably a few general items (as mentioned originally) that I wasn't crazy about, but, undoubtably, it will continue to improve, and let's applaud Msft for being adventurous, and for their continuous improvement.

Re: UI leadership by N C

Thats funny. I've used office since 97... well on and off. I did switch to OO for a while untill 2007 when I was forced to use it at work. After a week of hating it, and getting used to it. It's far superior to OO. The ribbon is amazing. Anyone who hates it has no reason to hate it other than to hate MS for doing something good for once.

For the record when Office07 came out, everyone i knew hated it. It's 2010 now, and I don't know anyone who hates it. Have fun living in your little MS hating world.

Re: Update: This is not ready for production use. by Varsha Mahadevan

Hi Jonathan,

Would you please send over the simple test application that you've used? I am unable to reproduce the symptoms that you describe in a rudimentary sample that I tried with a Ribbon and TabControl/DataGrid in the content section.

Thanks
Varsha

Re: Update: This is not ready for production use. by Jonathan Allen

Sure, just send me an email at jonathan@infoq.com.

Jonathan

Re: UI leadership by andrew mcveigh

> I'd like to take a moment and apologize for the negativity present in these e-mails

I didn't read the comments as negative, more like an honest view. It's certainly the way I feel about the new UI and i'm not alone. It's bold and pretty, but takes up a lot of screenspace and constantly confuses people. Heaven knows how we are going to get the traders in the inv bank i work at to migrate to the new UI.

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