You doubtlessly heard about the GTK# Ribbon implementation by now. If not, here is the scoop: someone develops a GTK widget using Mono. Is this awesome? Y/N Personally I think this is a bad idea for several reasons.
Firstly, we should not all be jumping on the ribbon bandwagon. Let’s remember the golden rule of software engineering: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fucking touch it!”. Unless majority of your users wants the ribbon there is no reason to spend time and resources implementing it. And it’s definitely not worth making it the one and only UI the way MS did in Office 2007.
Drastic changes in UI are only justified if the said UI “sucks balls”. I’m not kidding. That’s the politically correct term for “completely unusable piece of shit”. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Either way, if your UI is anywhere close to acceptable, you should rather concentrate on gradual, incremental improvement rather than drastic redesign. Let’s face it, the good old Toolbar + Menu Bar scheme has worked for years now.
I really don’t see such a drastic usability gain, or an emerging new UI paradigm. It’s just a plain old case of “hey, let’s just move everything around and add tabs, and make it… I don’t know, context sensitive!” Unnecessary, counterintuitive, and confusing. Some people may like it, but it’s hardly something we should be copying all over the place.
Secondly, implementing ribbon at the moment is problematic from the legal standpoint. Currently MS is licensing the ribbon free of charge pending an NDA, and a promise that your product will not compete in any shape or form with any element of the MS Office suite. Also MS puts some redistribution licensing restrictions in there which may or may not prevent you from using certain licenses for your product. Yes, we live in day and age where someone can license and police an UI design that a single grad student can re-implement from scratch on the weekends. Sad but true.
Not to mention that MS is seeking a patent for the UI design which may or may not be granted. If it is, then the vacuous license gains legal weight and may become a deadly weapon. Especially if you are a linux productivity tool or component. We already know that Balmer has a big war chest in his office where he keeps “hundreds” of patents that Linux allegedly violates, and that he strokes it affectionately for 15 minutes each morning. If we all start implementing the ribbon en-mass we not only get linux products entangled with the MS licensing, but also add potential patent violations to that war chest.
[tags]ribbon, microsoft, microsoft office 2007, ms, microsoft ribbon[/tags]