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GUI Mozilla Windows Technology

Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon 1124

Barence writes "Mozilla has announced that its plans to bring Office 2007's Ribbon interface to Firefox, as it looks to tidy up its 'dated' browser. 'Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away,' notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. '[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too.' The change will also bring Windows' Aero Glass effects to the browser." Update: 09/24 05:01 GMT by T : It's not quite so simple, says Alexander Limi, who works on the Firefox user experience. "We are not putting the Ribbon UI on Firefox. The article PCpro quotes talks about Windows applications in general, not Firefox." So while the currently proposed direction for Firefox 3.7 involves some substantial visual updates for Windows users (including a menu bar hidden by default, and integration of Aero-styled visual elements), it's not actually a ribbon interface. Limi notes, too, that Linux and Mac versions are unaffected by the change.
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Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:14PM (#29519823) Journal

    In my opinion this is a really, really dumb move. While its all eye-candy and nice, it brings down the usability a lot. If you want to get to the menu, you have to find some button from somewhere obscure location and then the menu will be vertical to begin with, like right-clicking. On top of that its one extra mouse click. I hate the same thing with Office. Another good example is MSN Messenger. I can never find the menu button, and when I do the menu looks just retarted.

    The ironic thing is that a menubar is the least intrusive UI object on the screen. It's small, it doesn't get in the way and it goes nicely along with title bar. And you still find everything easily and fast from it.

    This doesn't "tidy up" 'dated' browser. There a lot more issues to look at, like UI responsiveness, fast drawing of loading websites and better & smoother scrolling, in which Firefox is actually lacking behind (still wins IE tho, but thats not much)

    Another sad thing about this is that it forges Windows UI style to Linux and other OS, and stops being consistent with the rest of the system.

    Gladly I'm not Firefox user, and even less so with this. It seems Firefox is going more and more to the way of grandma-understands-too. While I myself more and more like the approach Opera takes; feels like a complete suite for browsing. Maybe it'll gain more marketshare for Opera in power users, who still value usability and the simple efficient things like menu bars.

    • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:18PM (#29519891) Homepage Journal
      I agree.  Thankfully, I'm sure there will be a theme or add-on to fix this GUI abortion.
      • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:04PM (#29520801)

        Thankfully, I'm sure there will be a theme or add-on to fix this GUI abortion.

        Yes. I imagine it'll be called EpiphanyForWindows, WebkitFF3Theme, FirefoxLite, or something similar. Chances are though, that the Firefox project itself will just plough ahead with this stupid idea, and ignore everyone who disagrees. Any project that fixes it is likely to be a third-party effort.

        Whatever. I'm just waiting for a stable version of Chrome that has adblock support.

      • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:06PM (#29520827) Homepage

        There already exists one: http://vimperator.org/trac/wiki/Vimperator [vimperator.org]

      • by Bovarchist ( 782773 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:33PM (#29521327)
        The screenshot in TFA would seem to indicate that what they are calling a "ribbon" is simply the same interface that Chrome and Safari are already using.
        • by msclrhd ( 1211086 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:18PM (#29522161)

          Yes. And TFA is taken initially from https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Sprints/Windows_Theme_Revamp/Direction_and_Feedback [mozilla.org], which is discussing the direction of *applications* written for Vista and Windows 7 that don't use the menubar, but use a contextual strip (Windows Explorer) or Office Ribbon (Paint and Wordpad). That paragraph is about the rationale for not showing the menubar on Vista and later in Firefox, not on adding a ribbon to Firefox (it is under a Hiding of the Menubar section).

          It seems as though a blogger misread this paragraph, and everyone on the interweb has been taking this as fact, without actually RTFOA (Reading The Friendly Original Article).

          From the pcpro article referenced in the /. summary:

          "Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away," notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. "[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too."

          From the Mozilla page:

          "Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menubar is going away. To be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon(now in Paint and Wordpad too). Many apps still retain the menubar as an option to be pinned or to be shown briefly by holding the Alt key."

          Note that here they are talking about Vista and Windows 7, not Firefox (and also note the "Many apps ..." bit in the last sentence).

      • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:00PM (#29522781) Homepage Journal

        It can't be any worse than an inappropriate use of monospaced font on a web site.

    • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519931) Journal
      Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability. The problem with menu style systems is that it is not intuitive. There is resistance to the change because of 'menus are the way we are used to doing things' not necessarily the way things should be done. Putting features in front of the user rather than 3 to 4 deep in a menu system is far more intuitive. In fact I think the office ribbon layout is due to a massive amount of consumer research on Microsoft's Behalf. (I cant find a reference for that right now).

      However, I will believe this change when I see it.

      • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:24PM (#29519997)

        You know what you are?

        You're a ribbon bully!

      • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... hoo.com minus pi> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:25PM (#29520023) Journal

        Good point. However, Microsoft Bob was also the result of advanced research into user interface design. So was Clippy. Microsoft has a way of taking very innovative ideas and stripping them of all sanity and usefulness.

      • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#29520051) Journal

        However Ribbon's "contextual" system is horrible to user too. People get used to where things are, even more so with computers. That is why static, normal menus and buttons are good. When the system is trying to contextually offer the "best" options to user, in seemingly random places it thinks are most relevant, they just get confused.

        I use browser and I I've learned where things are. I know better myself what I'm looking for than some algorithm that will just mix things up.

        • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#29520211) Journal

          Not to mention that once you have learned menus in one app you can apply much of that to the next.

          Computers are complicated because they are complicated.

        • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:39PM (#29520323) Journal
          Exactly. We need consistency for usability. When something shows up inone spot, we need it to be in that spot the next time we look for it. For things used a lot, it makes sense to have a quick launch icon for one click access, and that is good enough.
        • by keithius ( 804090 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:48PM (#29520493) Homepage

          There is no "algorithm" in the ribbon, unlike in earlier (menu driven!) versions of Office.

          Unlike the menus in, say, Office XP or Office 2003, where some items were "hidden" until you used them, in the ribbon EVERYTHING is there. It doesn't try to "adapt" to you. Sure, you have to re-learn where a lot of stuff is, but that was often the case before the ribbon came out as well (because more features kept getting squeezed into a menu-driven UI that just wasn't made for a program with that many options).

          The only thing that changes in the ribbon are some contextual tabs that show up at the end, e.g., when you have selected a picture or a table. These tabs are meaningless normally, so they are hidden. But they don't re-arrange themselves based on your usage patterns - they are static and don't change.

        • by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:37PM (#29521417)

          Another important thing to remember that menus hide unused and rarely-used features. In most modern software that's actually a pretty good thing, as very few people need or want to leverage every single feature of an application in one session. It makes it harder to discover those features, but once you learn where they are the first time around, it's a solved problem. By presenting the user with large blocks of mostly unwanted toolbars, the ribbon scheme steals valuable vertical space without offering any usability savings over the initial discovery. You still have to switch between ribbon states to find half the features you want, and select from drop-down lists of icons insted of drop-down menus of options.

          This will mesh better with Microsoft's vision of a modern application, for what that's worth. It might make some features easier to discover (I know people who are still surprised to learn about Firefox's keywords feature). Even so, I doubt it will be more popular than the current design, lead to significant changes in the way people use Firefox's features, or be worth the loss of valuable vertical real-estate. The only good thing I can say about it is that most people don't need to use menus in Firefox as it is, and the ribbon can probably be hidden like the URL bar, menu bar, and toolbars can already be hidden.

      • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:31PM (#29520149) Homepage

        The problem I have with the ribbon, and the reason I'll download an add-on to replace the menus in Firefox or just switch to Safari, is that it's a disorganized mess, with everything getting roughly the same amount of visual play. Worse still, some things get more play just because they take more space to show.

        With the menu, some things may be buried a few levels deep, but at least it's highly organised and I can quickly figure out where to find things using common sense. In the long run this works out much better for me. Maybe it's different for users who are just encountering a computer for the first time or something.

      • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#29520221)

        Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability. The problem with menu style systems is that it is not intuitive. There is resistance to the change because of 'menus are the way we are used to doing things' not necessarily the way things should be done.

        The way things "should be done" is the way people want them to be done and are used to them being done.

        All this "intuitive" BS is nonsense. What is "intuitive" about looking at a screen and picking something off a "ribbon" at the top of a bar over a bunch of text and images? There's nothing in human instinctual behavior that would guide that. We know to do something like that because we have learned how to do it.

        And there is just no reason to have to learn a new system when we have all already learned how to use menus. I still can't get anything done beyond the most basic tasks in Word because of the stupid ribbon, and I've basically given up on the whole app because of it. I used to use it for everything, now I use it as a last resort - I use Wordpad for most other things that I can't use Notepad for. (My version of Wordpad still has menus; I didn't realize there was a version with the ribbon. Now I know to avoid it.)

        You know what I wish people would stop doing? Assuming I'm too dumb to use menus, but smart enough to learn a whole new system that I've never seen before. And I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way.

      • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:41PM (#29520365) Journal
        I know the argument, but with people going with wide-screen laptops and the like, screen real-estate is at a premium, especially at the top of the screen. The menu-bar is small and compact, The ribbon is not. Even if the ribbon goes on the left or the right, it still eats up pixels. I much prefer right clicking for context, but that's just me.
        • by R.Mo_Robert ( 737913 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:37PM (#29524483)

          Good thing that the ribbon takes up the exact same amount of space as the old toolbars and menu did, then: http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/17/577485.aspx [msdn.com]

          The document viewing area by default in Word 97 and Word 2007 is literally the exact same, except 2007 actually gives you slightly more space horizontally. PowerPoint is the exact same. The only significat difference is that you do lose a row with Excel, but as someone who works with Excel on a daily basis, I'd gladly take the ribbon over the menu any day. Additionally, you can collapse the ribbon (double-click a tab or hit Ctrl+F1) to save space. I'd guess this would save at least as much space as collapsing the old two-row Word toolbar into one, if not more.

          Space, my friend, is not an issue. (Not to mention that Mozilla isn't really going to the "ribbon," anyway, but that's another story.)

      • by keithius ( 804090 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:41PM (#29520367) Homepage

        The link you are probably looking for is this one:

        http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/11/10/the-office-2007-ui-bible.aspx [msdn.com]

        It's a link to Jensen Harris's Office 2007 blog, where he collects all the articles he wrote about the Office 2007 UI (the "ribbon"), explains WHY it is the way it is, provides (IMHO) rather insightful comparisons against the old menu & toolbar paradigm, and generally does a good job of explaining why they chose the ribbon over the "status quo" of toolbars and menus.

        That said, a ribbon-based UI is not always the answer - like toolbars and menus, it can be abused by people who don't think UI design through carefully enough, but it is a clever and intuitive answer to "option overload."

      • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:42PM (#29520373) Journal

        Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability.

        True, since large menu hierarchies like those found in Office 2003 may end up as cumbersome and hard to find what you're looking for.

        But simple applications like Firefox do not actually suffer from this problem, and I think MS only did this in Windows 7 for Paint and WordPad to showcase their new Ribbon API in Windows 7, much like WordPad was earlier written in MFC to exemplify the MFC C++ library on MSDN.

        Stupid, stupid, stupid, IMHO. :-(

        Guess why MS isn't releasing the bulk of their apps using the Ribbon UI?

        • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:06PM (#29521957) Journal

          But simple applications like Firefox do not actually suffer from this problem

          Which is why Firefox isn't adding Ribbon. They're just remaking their interface to work more like IE8 (in that menu bar is hidden by default, but shows if you use Alt to activate it). Please have a look at the actual screenshot [mozilla.org], and I dare you find any resemblance of Ribbon there. Also read the actual primary source [mozilla.org]. The only place where it even mentions Ribbon is this bit:

          Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menubar is going away. To be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon (now in Paint and Wordpad too). Many apps still retain the menubar as an option to be pinned or to be shown briefly by holding the Alt key.

          which is not a statement of intent regarding Firefox, but rather an assessment of the present state of affairs in Windows UI design guidelines. Where TFA has gotten the idea that Firefox will have "Office 2007's Ribbon", I don't know, but it's simply bullshit.

      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:51PM (#29520549)

        Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability.

        This is actually a point of contention among usability engineers.

        The problem with menu style systems is that it is not intuitive.

        Intuitive is a rather subjective term. Rather the question is how learnable it is and how functional.

        There is resistance to the change because of 'menus are the way we are used to doing things' not necessarily the way things should be done.

        The learning curve for new interfaces can be problematic. Any change will meet some resistance. MS's ribbon will probably meets more than most because of vocal minorities and because the coupled it with a switch that temporarily eliminated some features. So power users of Word were frustrated partly by a new interface but also because they assumed they could perform a task and the interface was preventing them, when in truth the task had become impossible coinciding with the new interface.

        Putting features in front of the user rather than 3 to 4 deep in a menu system is far more intuitive.

        The problem is if the needed feature is in front of the user and determining what is needed where. If a menu system is more than three levels deep, you've failed as a UI designer.

        In fact I think the office ribbon layout is due to a massive amount of consumer research on Microsoft's Behalf.

        The consensus I've seen seems to be that it is based off of the the U of W's Decision-Theoretic UI project, but where MS was unable to get it to work properly so they scrapped the fundamental adaptive nature and just kept the UI style. The underlying concept resulted in mixed results for UI designers in the first place, so maybe that isn't too terrible and the design of the elements they copied were at least sensible and obeyed fundamental principals of UI design.

        MS does not seem to have published their usability testing (if they did it and followed the results which is always a question with MS) but have published PR pieces claiming that user studies show improved usability; of course not publishing that underlying study either. Scholarly works to date seem to contradict their claims, but some of those were a little less than methodical in implementation. I think MS managed to piss a lot of people off and introduce a new UI scheme which is questionable but not terrible in and of itself.

      • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:06PM (#29520839)
        With a menu, I can click on 'File', then drag my mouse across to try and find a relevant item reasonably quickly. All menus drop down into a small area allow for easy scanning of choices, all menu items and menus are in a single, vertical, left-aligned column showing keyboard shortcuts. The ribbon bar is spread across the entire top of the windows, and the various options don't even line up. Some are across the top, some are across the bottom. Some have vertical options. Unless you put the mouse on something and hover over it, the keyboard shortcut doesn't even display. Intuitive?? If by intuitive someone means that you can click on an icon or picture that you don't understand and it will do something then yes, it is intuitive.

        Many users see the alt key combos on a menu and know how to use them for things they need the most, so they don't even need the menu. My wife used to be surprised when I would do something without the mouse, like bold an Excel cell, and then she would try it herself and often comment on how much easier it was.

        The ribbon bar does offer more capability for displaying options than a menu does, but it takes up more space -- it's HUGE when compared to a menu. Why they don't offer a 'small icons without text' option I don't know. It does provide a better interface for people who aren't afraid to click on something to see what it does. Which is the minority of computer users.

        For the minuscule amount of time it might save later, it's all lost while spending minutes trying to find out there the 'Pivot Table' option is now (it used to be under the data menu, but they moved it to the insert ribbon). But Microsoft and Apple are all about dumbing down the computer so any moron can use it without any skills or knowledge. Just point and click. That's why Grandma can't find files after she downloads them, she has no clue about what computers do, how they work, or what file systems or directories are. It's not that she isn't capable of learning, it's that it's all hidden and she can't find out even if she wanted to. I'm always amazed at people who have used computers for years and have no concept about files and directories, the very basis for almost all programs on a computer. Instead, they use organizers that put files who-knows-where, then they get all upset when they run out of space because the 'C' drive is full and they can't figure out how to put new files on the new hard drive I just installed.

        I don't mind offering the ribbon bar as an option for the new user, or for those that truly like it better. But if Firefox or Office is already installed, please keep the old settings and then ASK me if I want to change to the new ones. It would be really nice to have something that says 'You've been using ribbons for a couple of days now, want to make it permanent?' rather than hiding the option to change it 12 layers deep behind some obscure reference.
    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#29520037)

      It really isn't about the elements that they use but how they implement it.

      Ribbons for some apps can greatly improve the UI.
      Menus for other apps can do the same.

      Bad Ribbons can make things really bad.
      So can bad Menus.

      I like to compare Ubuntu vs. OS X.
      Ubuntu has all the GUI tricks and a lot more then OS X. However OS X still gets praises for being an excellent UI outside the Linux Zealot range even outside the Mac Fanboy range. Why because Apple spent a lot of time, much more the most Open Source Projects dedicate to. For using the right element to portrait the right job.
      Now Firefox is going to use Ribbons. Ill wait until I see if before I pass judgement.

  • How time flies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:16PM (#29519849)

    I had no idea it was April already.

  • by alain_delon ( 1361705 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:18PM (#29519897)
    Please, don't.
  • Dear god, no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:19PM (#29519917)

    Why take away a perfectly good, easy to use menu and replace it with that shit-tastic ribbon concept?

  • Repeat after me, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkonc ( 47285 ) <[moc.neergcb] [ta] [leumas_nehpets]> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519919) Homepage Journal

    I can understand having it as an option for those few people who actually like the ribbon (which, IMHO reduces usability, while taking up way more space), but forcing that garbage on the general public seems like a waste of both energy and goodwill.

  • Windows-only? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XanC ( 644172 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519923)

    There's some argument to be made that Firefox should fit in to Windows, if that's where it's running.

    My question is, will this abomination also be applied to other OSes?

  • Ribbon sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519927)

    Menus exist for a reason (they are useful and organized), and the "Ribbon" takes up more space than the menus. The Ribbon's "Contextual" interface just means that things aren't in the same place all the time. It means that action A is not always in action A's spot, and sometimes action B is in action A's spot. It's just terrible. I guess that's the last I'll be using of Firefox.

  • Ecchhh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519939)

    I despise the ribbon more than MS itself. What is it in the human psyche that insists on breaking things that work? There are so many other issues to address -- why screw up a perfectly usable user interface, by replacing it with an illogical hodge-podge that, if nothing else, requires user retraining? What problem is being solved? And is it really being solved?

    If you don't believe me, ask a collection of users to perform a task with the existing UI, then change to the ribbon and repeat the process. If not convinced, give the users a week to adjust to the ribbon, and repeat the test. I think you'll find that users burdened by the ribbon will perform their tasks significantly slower than those using the more efficient menu system.

  • why??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519941) Homepage
    The point of the ribbon was to consolidate many complicated context sensitive (in this case i mean, menu items disable and enable based on current document context) menu items/tasks into a more readily available context sensitive toolbar (making a menu bar obsolete).

    However, a web browser doesn't need that many context sensitive too bar elements. Chrome, Safari and even IE 8 already has a very simplified and usable tool bar (with one or two drop down menus for more detailed options - hardly requiring a ribbon).

    i just don't really get this...
    • Re:why??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:30PM (#29520131) Journal

      See, I get it for Microsoft Office. Its alot user intuitive for users to find the save and print and formating buttons with the ribbon system they've got set up. Good for that.

      But seriously, when was the last time I used the menu bar in any browser? I enter a URL... I browse... I close it when I'm done...

      I hate clutter at the top of the sceen, eating up valuable viewing space for bigger pictures and such. I was upset when IE snuck a Search Toolbar in there without me really asking - since its automatically set to search if the URL doesn't resolve to anything... But whatever, removed it and got over it.

      Now they want to take that less than an inch menu bar and make it take up 2 inches of my screen so that I can NEVER use it. Besides the fact that I never find a need to go in there, everything will be relayed out and I probably won't be able to find what I'm looking for when I do need to.

  • Neat! (Score:4, Funny)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:21PM (#29519947)

    No, wait, I mean that other thing -- lame!

  • Clever. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by malevolentjelly ( 1057140 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:21PM (#29519957) Journal

    That's really clever. The Ribbon is fully available to any application that doesn't compete with Office... I would have never thought about a web browser as being within that fold, but it most certainly is. IE is not part of the office ecosystem. This is smart move towards integration and a clever way to utilize the platform. However, there likely will be some backlash from purists. Might I suggest a branch of Firefox not unlike Camino for Mac? Perhaps a Windows-centric version of the Mozilla browser would be in order to better provide for the range of needs and interests in the community.

    The Office 2007 ribbon is very effective for exposing contextual functionality, but it's also capable of being a lightweight interface. I am curious to see how Firefox implements this. I wouldn't anticipate it being nearly as wide open as Office's ribbon, with much of its functionality likely hidden in the globe.

    Alongside some Windows 7 integration, these features could go far towards making Firefox more of a native browser and less of a competing visual element in Windows.

    • Re:Clever. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:28PM (#29520095) Journal

      Interesting. My only experience with a ribbon-style interface is in a technical program that just upgraded to it (I'm still in XP and office 03). So far, it's been utterly confusing and ridiculously unproductive. Commands which were second nature now require direct attention to find. I've resorted, in some cases, to looking up the keyboard shortcuts in the manual so that I can avoid having to hunt through the ever-shifting menus.

      I can see how the interface might be useful to someone who has never run the program before - it limits your selections to the immediate, common tasks. For the experienced user, though, it slows down the process. If time is money, it's a very costly interface.

  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:22PM (#29519965) Homepage Journal

    It was my understanding that the ridiculous license Microsoft chose for the "Office Ribbon" prevented competitors from using the office ribbon concept unless they paid a hell of a lot of money up front. Does that apply only to competitors of Office? That seems remarkably narrow-sighted for Microsoft's contract lawyers.

    I assume the Linux versions of Firefox will continue to use the "messy" menus.

  • by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:27PM (#29520073) Homepage

    Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon

    Many To Replace Firefox With Opera

  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:46PM (#29520461) Homepage Journal

    The screenshot [pcpro.co.uk] in TFA looks nothing like the Office ribbon. The purpose of the ribbon is to make apparent the options the are usually buried within expanding hierarchical menus. In the screenshot it looks to me like they just replaced pulldown menus with pulldown buttons.

    I love the Office ribbon and would be very happy to see this standard propagate into more user interfaces. I'd love to see it implemented in Firefox, but I see no such thing here.

  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#29520589)

    The context sensitive ribbon... what 'contexts' are there exactly? I'm viewing a webpage or.... viewing a webpage. That's it! It's not like Word where I might be editing text or drawing a table, or manipulating an inserted image.

    Most of FF's menus are related to the configuration of the system. And configuration of the addons. This could be a little better organized but it's certianly not broken or a priority for redesign.

    Imagine trying to tell your grandma over the phone how to set an option: "Click on Tools, then click Internet Options"... oh wait... there's no more menu. "Click on the icon that kind of looks like a toolbox with a wand over it... er".

  • by wicka ( 985217 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:03PM (#29520785)
    The quote verbatim from Mozilla's wiki (found here: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Sprints/Windows_Theme_Revamp/Direction_and_Feedback [mozilla.org])

    "Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menubar is going away. To be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon(now in Paint and Wordpad too). Many apps still retain the menubar as an option to be pinned or to be shown briefly by holding the Alt key...Firefox isn't the type of application that necessarily has contextual actions in the same way Windows Explorer does. So how to handle the functionality of the menubar if it is hidden?"

    They are just using the ribbon as an example of an interface that has eliminated the menu bar. If you read further they have mockups of the 3.7 and 4.0 interface, it looks absolutely nothing like the ribbon.
  • by slack_justyb ( 862874 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:18PM (#29522159)
    Apple has a look and feel that screams Apple. Most vendors comply with the look and feel. That Aqua, gray and blue like look.

    GNOME has a HIG that they really would love for everyone to follow. You're not forced to but, you can almost spot the applications that don't follow the GNOME HIG. That makes up a lot of the look and feel, add Ubuntu's wonderful brownish / orange; Fedora's blueish; or SuSE's green everywhere and you have a look and feel that screams the distro's GNOME.

    Microsoft has the Aero glass and wonderful (*snicker*) ribbon. Microsoft is slowly getting everyone on the glass and ribbon theme. There is no absolute rule that you must use glass and ribbon styles on your Microsoft application, but people notice when it doesn't match up. It gives Microsoft that Post-XP look and feel.

    In the end, operating systems are trying to make a look that defines them, that people can easily recognize. Much like Google has their own look and feel of blue and flat that they've got going on. People identify readily with a unique look and feel and that is, in a nutshell, cheap advertising. There is nothing wrong with developers not going along with the look and feel an OS uses, Winamp comes to mind as a big one, but it automatically points out that the user is using something different, something not part of the OS; and if the OS is using a really slick look and feel with all kinds of neat effects, not going with the OS look and feel makes you look dated, or posing (if you're trying to do your own slick look and feel effects.)

    For 90% of us here on Slashdot, this is all just a bunch of useless eye candy. However, it's a real important factor for the other whatever percentage of the general population who just buy into marketing hype.

    Chrome looks out of place on Windows sans the glass effect. It looks like a giant blue rubber browser. However, that doesn't mean that it is silly, just looks exactly not like a Windows Vista/7 application. We can debate the merits of looking like a Windows application till the cows come home, point being it looks out of place.

    Whatever your take is on the ribbon UI, I won't argue you there, but that's where Microsoft looks like they're heading for general UI, just like Mac OS X puts the menu bar at the top of the screen. It's just part of that look and feel and companies are very geared to have a distinct look and feel so that people can instantly recognize that the product in use.

    So are we going to toss stones at Mozilla for actually going the with the look and feel of a Windows program, when they try to achieve the same on Mac OS X and Linux? I think the better answer for all the people who are heading down to the rock quarry is: If you do not like the glass/ribbon look and feel, maybe you should change to an OS that matches the way you want it to look?

    I can almost hear the angry replies, but I will say this in my defense. The look, feel, and usability of a given OS is a marketable thing. I ditched Windows when I saw what they were going to do with Windows post-3.11. I couldn't stand it, but I understood that this was the way Microsoft was going (start buttons, browser like file navigation, etc...) I can not fight a war with a company that is trying to market stuff. So, I switched to an OS where I could dictate how things are going to work, Linux. I've not looked back since.

    We just need to understand that Mozilla is bringing their application to look like a Microsoft application, just like they did with the Linux version of Firefox when they added GTK+ integration. Just like they are trying to do with making Firefox look like a Mac OS X program. So, come on, if you don't like the direction MS is taking with their look and feel, stop waiting for more applications to break ties with the Microsoft look and feel. Instead, switch over to an OS that matches what you want. It's not that hard really, and after a few weeks, you won't notice the difference. Let's make peace, not cast stones.

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