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February 22, 2008



The "Ribbon" exposes more features but in some cases destroys accessibility. I train persons with disabilities on a variety of accessibility and ease of access is a major consideration in recommending software

Without having used either of these products (I use Freemind and Inspiration), as long as they retained the keyboard access (OFFICE 2007 has), they can still be accessible by assistive technology programs.

Jim McDaniel

As a MindManager user I find the ribbon reduces my efficiency significantly. In the previous version of the product I was able to customize my own toolbars and group the icons I use most often, then locate the toolbars in convenient places around the work area. I use MindManager because I am very visually oriented in my work habits so that worked quite well.
Microsoft's new ribbon does do some of the things you say, but then I have to live with a rather stock grouping of items.
I've been using the new Ribbon for many months now, but no matter how you cut it I have to make more mouse clicks and pause more to think about how to get at what I want to do than before. In addition, they have limited the color schemes which I find frustrating because the stock schemes either aren't pleasing to me or don't have enough contrast for the tiny icons to be quickly identified.

Stéphane Bergeron

I'm the opposite of Jim in that the Ribbon in both Office 2007 and MindManager (As well as JCVGantt Pro) have all increased my productivity. I will take a well organized and logical grouping of controls over a mess of toolbars with barely recognizable icnons on small buttons any day.

I like to customize my applications' UIs too but, in the case of the Ribbon, the real research that went into choosing what to make most prominent and accessible really shows IMO.

And if you want specific "old style" buttons, just add them to the Quick Access toolbar. I thinkl the reason you have to pause more to think is a matter of habit. You are used to how you placed things around before. It doesn't all that long to break habits and make new ones but of course it's harder if you resist the change every step of the way.

I can understand your frustration about the limited themes but I cannot see how anything on the Ribbon is more tiny than the regular buttons on toolbars we had before (I'm speaking from my Office experience here as MindManager Pro 7 is the first version of that app I've used). In Office, going back ato any version prior to 2007 feels like a step backwards and it is there I have to pause, think and find my bearings again.

Chuck Frey

Jim raises an important point that I forgot to include in my blog post: MindManager 7 enables you to customize a Quick Access Toolbar, which can be located between the Ribbon UI and the workspace. This gives you the best of both worlds: Efficient access to the advanced capabilities of the program using the various Ribbon tabs, plus immediate access to your most frequently-used commands from the Quick Access Toolbar.


I'm personally one of those who can't stand the Ribbon -- it's just not compatible with how I work. The fact that there is so much debate over it proves that Microsoft should have provided the ability to switch to a "classic" mode, which allows those of us who are more productive in the proven menu-and-toolbar interface to continue to be productive, and those who prefer the Ribbon can still have that.

I have been accused of being resistant to change, or of being stuck in the old ways... but that's not it at all. I don't mind change if it is for the better. But when that change actually reduces the usability of the software for me, because I can no longer arrange the application's environmnt in a way that works for me, how is that an improvement? It's not.

For example, when I start with a fresh installation of a previous version of Office, one of the first things I do is arrange the toolbars the way I like. I often prefer my toolbars on the left side, especially on a wide screen, because I look at things from left to right, and except for at the very start of a document, most of what I am doing tends to be on the left side, and in the middle downwards vertically. It's nice to tear off a toolbar, especially a custom one I have built containing my most used commands and buttons for custom macros, and keep it near the area I willbe working.

Office 2007 takes that away,and I am forced to hunt for the things I want, and my custom toolbar commands are now banished to the Add-Ins tab. Extra distance for the mouse to travel, extra clicks to access the commands, extra time wasted trying to find things. That all equals reduced productivity, and reduced usability. The Quick Access bar is useless too -- too small and far from where I need the commands.

If you prefer it that way, fine... but it doesn't work for me... it works against me. I don't want it.

In fact, if other software I use implements the Ribbon in a future version, and does not provide a classic mode (and I understand that they are not permitted to under the licensing model for the Ribbon), that will be enough to convince me NOT to use it. That's how bad I think the Ribbon is.


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