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March 23, 2009

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Tom,

That's what I'm talking about. I can understand the point raised about consistency for its own sake is misguided at best. But ideally the icon should tell you enough. The option of a "compact" or "expert" ribbon would be perfect. For the folks learning the program you can have all the different sized icons, for the more experienced, the smaller and more efficient small buttons.

With that said, don't rule out consistency as a teaching method. If you use multi-size/shaped buttons the differences should convey some information about their function. For example, common functions are one size, alternate functions slightly smaller. I think you mentioned that was the goal previously in the example that was posted. But it wasn't clear to me that the different button sizes meant anything. I looked at them as fairly equal in use and how often I'd use them.

My 2 cents, your mileage may vary...

Thanks again,
Tom

Now that's the goods!! Compact and accessible. But why stop there? Why not apply the same principle to the horizontal ribbon too, so the user can grab the bottom of the ribbon pane and drag it up and all the large buttons shrink to small icons. http://myfeedback.autodesk.com/cs/forums/thread/297540.aspx

Designing the ribbon for expert users as well (not just beginners) really should have been part of this release already. The lack of an expert interface is really going to slow these users down, or decrease their visible workspace which expert users try so hard to avoid, in order to regain some lost productivity.

Just on a side note, those Inventor icons are fantastic. They are consistent and 'pop'.
Can you get that same icon designer onto the Revit team to inject some colour into those depressingly monotone grey icons that you are about to release with?

I agree with Chad about the inventor icons - they are so clear. I've never used Inventor but I know what half those icons will do just by looking at your screen snapshot. I would not find such a colour scheme distracting from the main window/model - the eye gets used to such things very quickly.

I also think that a compact horizontal ribbon makes a lot more sense than the partially collapsed ribbon we now have.
Incidentally, are you guys looking at our posts on the Beta forum as there are a lot of great suggestions there - do we need to replicate the best of them here?

Thanks for the feedback on the icons. And yes, we have been actively reading and logging all of the comments on the beta forum. See my original forum post announcing this blog.

Two things:
1) As stated in previous comments, color and shape are supremely important. Peripheral vision plays a very large part in a successful workflow, especially when working in Revit Architecture (or Inventor). Experienced users are thinking ahead, several steps, as they go about completing a given task. Any "need" to actively focus on the UI, in order to accomplish these steps, results in slower workflow and a loss in productivity.
2) It appears, from the Inventor screen shot, that the icons are arranged in a "palette" configuration. This is a much more usable paradigm than a Ribbon that hides the necessary tools and keeps jumping around and re-shuffling them.

One more thing:
3) Any predetermined contextual arrangement of tools assumes that there is, or should be, one way of accomplishing a task... and that "the way" is linear. This is a false assumption. The beauty of a palette is that all of the tools are visible at any given time. The user is then free to choose their own path to the desired result, and can change that path, on the fly, without having to backtrack through several Ribbon tabs and panels.

Think of the floating toolbar that pops up when you highlight text in any application in Office 2007. That would be a really powerful feature. I'd pick an object and something blinks ever so slightly, and if I hover on it, will reveal the modify tools right there for the picking. No swithcing panels needed and will be CONSISTENTLY where users expect it to be (move, mirror, trim, create similar, properties, etc.), resulting in a heck of a lot less mouse travel. That seems to be an unexploited avenue that needs to be seriously considered.

I don't find the collapsed ribbon very useful. An "expert mode" of sorts would be welcome. I think a vertical ribbon of some sort would also be more useful because pretty much everyone is moving to wide screen. No sense resisting it.

Stacked Tools should also work differently. Instead of always leaving the same tool, it should default to the last picked tool (or somehow give us the option to change that behavior). So if I want to playe 200 Structural Columns, I can click once to reveal the available tools (arch and struct columns) and then pick the Structural column. Now that tool is my default until I need something else, which saves me double the amount of clicks. Alternatively when one hovers over those buttons, they should reveal all tools without requiring a click.

For some power users, the new UI won't present much of a hindrance because we use shortcuts a lot. So even if we disagree over tool placement, the keyboard doesn't move ;)

This is a late in coming comment but something which struck me as a was stuck drawing in Revit 2010 a bit today. Being in the upper left corner, the most used tools are the farthest from the majority of the work area. Since I have a large monitor, the least used tools end up being in the center of the screen and are actually more convenient to reach... which adds to the ribbon hunt. I start by going up to the ribbon and then I hunt across the ribbon for what I need (adds frustration). Since I rarely draw in the upper left corner of the work area, mostly working along the center axis' (both vertical and horizontal) I always approach the ribbon at the wrong tool.

If I could change the justification of the ribbon to centered it would help A LOT. Perhaps thinking of the ribbon more like the Apple dock and placing it in the center (of the top, bottom, left or right side, we choose) would be helpful.

Incidentally, since I also work on a 1024x768 tablet screen, the size of the 2010 ribbon is wonderful, but I think it's important to have the vertical option in Revit, even if it takes up a bit more space than the horizontal option in order to keep all the tools on screen.

The Apple dock (and dozens other like it) are a good example but just in case you get any funny ideas, the scaling icons of the Apple dock might be fun for the QAT but definitely not for the main ribbon.

Thanks

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