The ribbon component that Revit inherited from AutoCAD includes features that were optional for each product. Once such feature is the capability of being docked at the sides of the screen, known as the "vertical ribbon." The image at right shows the vertical orientation in AutoCAD Architecture 2010. During design we evaluated each individual feature separately to ensure it met our previously stated design goals and did not introduce major issues specific to our Revit implementation. In our evaluation of the vertical feature we found reduced vertical space created a tighter constraint on the ribbon contents and in many cases caused portions of the UI to be hidden and accessible only through additional scrolling. Throughout the design of the content organization we were careful to ensure the contents would fit within the target 1280x1024 resolution. This was to ensure a consistent and predictable location for the common top level tools. The horizontal ribbon has a fixed height but the vertical ribbon does not have a fixed width so the need for scrolling could be exacerbated further if the width is reduced manually. Commands also re-shuffled in a different manner than with the horizontal ribbon.
Ensuring that content always fits in the viewable space was challenging given the nature of Revit's contextual UI. This UI is made up of hundreds (322 to be exact) individual pieces that are dynamically placed when creation or selection tools are active. As an example, the options displayed for a curved attached wall differ from a straight unattached wall. The different permutations are larger still. Our approach was to maintain this system but ensure, as best as we could, that options would appear in a consistent order and always be visible when they were active. In the case of modal commands such as Roof and Floor, the vertical ribbon would have often placed the critical Finish and Cancel buttons past the fold making them difficult to locate without scrolling. In the end we opted to forgo this feature, investigate it further, and concentrate on fine-tuning the horizontal ribbon layout in the time we had for the 2010 release. If anyone has any used the vertical ribbon in AutoCAD we would like to hear about your thoughts and experiences.