Monday, May 16, 2011

Would You Like A Ribbon On Your GUI?

I know this is kind of a tired subject, but I have been trying to remain totally objective for a while….
The introduction of the ribbon in AutoCAD’s graphical user interface back in version 2009 caused a big fuss amongst many users, probably more of a fuss that Word & Excel users gave when the ribbon was added to Microsoft Office.

Word 2011 Ribbon Interface

I believe that working fast is more important to CAD users than your average word processor or spreadsheet user, plus I would imagine that there are more commands to use in CAD.  Switching between commands in CAD happens more often too.
AutoCAD 2011 Ribbon Interface
I have remained neutral on the ribbon vs. toolbar battle since the battle started.  But I’m starting to lean on the non-ribbon side of things.  I spent a good amount of time learning how to program the ribbon menu in AutoCAD via the CUI editor.  Once I figured it out I really enjoyed doing it and it looks cool too.  But I still feel the interface without the ribbon is faster.
AutoCAD 2011 Toolbars and Pull-down Menu Interface

To be fair the ribbon is much more dynamic than just toolbars.  With the later version of AutoCAD the ribbon changes automatically according to the current command.  But it is just not quite right yet and it does not save clicks.  I wonder if the ribbon should be considered the “beginner interface”. 
Once you know where everything is in both interface types, I believe the non-ribbon route is quicker.  Fewer clicks equal faster, right?

It reminds me of another interface change back when the digitizer and puck was replaced with the 2 button scroll wheel mouse.  Granted, the scroll wheel is essential now, but we lost the insanely quick command progression that the 9 or more buttons on the puck could produce.

No comments:

Post a Comment