Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Access 2007 Pain: RibbonBar

I was never a fan of the RibbonBar gui in Office 2007, but was ready to accept the need to work with it.

But at each step in the learning process , there is nothing but frustration. And I am not alone: read the comments to a post on the Access Team Blog.

A partial random list of annoyances:
  1. There is no way to build or even review RibbonBars natively in Access 2007.

  2. The XML for a RibbonBar does not parse in MS XML Notepad or by using the MSXML dlls - the XML needs to be modified to be read.

  3. Using more than one period (.) in a row in a label breaks the XML.

  4. There is no easy way to get the ImageID of a native image: you have to download an obscurely located Excel file.

  5. The MS Custom Office UI Editor returns malformed XML errors by referring to the line and character number, but - you guessed it - the Editor screen has neither.

  6. There is next to nothing on customizing the RibbonBar in the Access Help file. The only articles where you can get any coherent information have been written by third parties.

  7. If you want to preview a native RibbonBar image in an Access form, you can't use the Access image control - you have to use the MS Forms image control, which is not fully supported in Access.
In one of the comments to the above-mentioned post, well-known Access writer Mike Groh, said:

"Without intellisense and without an Object Browser view of the ribbon hierarchy, it's very, very difficult to make headway on ribbon customization."

A correction: The RibbonBar gui does not have an object model, so the hierarchy has to be viewed in some other way.

On 20 Sep I posted my Custom RibbonX Reviewer BETA, for free download. The Reviewer loads a custom RibbonBar into a treeview to show the full hierarchy, and all attributes and values for each item, as well as displaying the actual RibbonBar. There are also extensive reference resources incorporated into the GUI. The next stage in the project is to deploy the app as an add-in that will work inside the users' ACCDB, and provide in-place editing of RibbonBars using a pseudo-object model.

I sent an email to the Access Team Blog on this app, in the hope I would get some support or feedback. The email has been ignored.