Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Office 2007 Ribbon Portal

The Office 2007 Ribbon feature now has its own portal at the MSDN Office Developer Center, where you will find technical articles, code samples, developer documentation, and multimedia presentations on customizing the RibbonX user interface in the 2007 Microsoft Office release.

Fom an interesting post on Office 2007 from's, A. Russell Jones, at Tech-Ed 2006:

Microsoft provided all attendees with Office 2007 Beta 2, which replaces Office's familiar nested standard menus with a set of tabs and "ribbons". Microsoft claims this change—along with context-sensitivity that displays special functions when you select objects such as images, graphs, etc.—exposes more of Office's features to users. Perhaps so, but (at least in the beta) some of the features I commonly use weren't available from the ribbon, or at least, I haven't found them yet. For example, to run a Macro (formerly available through the Tools—>Macro—>Macros menu), you now have to first display the hidden-by-default "Developer" tab, a feature which is itself hidden under a button on the "Office" dropdown menu—which doesn't look like a menu at all. But other hidden features are welcome. For example Word Count is now always-available from the status bar. Despite some initial frustrations, I suspect I'll eventually like the new layout better.

And, of course, it's both customizable and programmable. Better yet, it's programmable through configuration. By writing some relatively simple XML, you can add your own custom tabs and tools, or control the built-in features. For those Office developers who want to restrict users' actions, a single command called "StartFromScratch" removes all the built-in ribbon features. You can build from there, re-enabling the built-in commands and tools you want users to have, overriding their default actions with custom code, providing a completely custom set of tabs and tools, or giving them a mixture of any of these options.

Users can even customize the ribbons you provide, creating their own preferred feature collections in exactly the same way they customize the built-in features. And this all works the same way across all the Office products.

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