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March 17, 2009


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Sounds like maybe we should stay away from docking it vertically?

For 2010 this was our decision. I acknowledge the newer wide monitors and the trend toward higher resolutions make the feature more desirable. Some stats I will try to get is how many AutoCAD users are running in this configuration. The use case is not exactly the same but similar.

Looking at the screenshot, there are a few different sized buttons, small square, large square, and wide.
If vertical space is an issue then;
1. Why aren't the buttons all small square is size.
2. Why aren't they stacked side-by-side. For instance, there is an awful amount of wasted space beside the dimension buttons.

The screenshot is demostrating a lack of consistency of buttons and optimal space usage.

In this particular instance or in the investigations with Revit, are there implications behind the scenes that we can't see from this image which is preventing a more optimised layout? Clearly if there is less space, then the buttons need to deprecate to account for the smaller amount of space in the same way that it does for the horizontal.

The small icons vs. icons with labels was handled by each application. For Revit we designed for icons with labels at target resolutions as in studies this has been shown to allow for the quickest recognition and greater retention while learning. These labels will drop when the space is compressed which works fairly predictably in the horizontal ribbon. For us it was more the layout that occurred when the available horizontal space in the vertical ribbon was narrower than a complete ribbon panel as well as the visual design when scrolling became present. It was not sufficiently clear when scrolling was required or where to click on the scrollbar.

I liked the dashboard, AutoCAD 2007/8, but found the ribbon just didn't work very well in a vertical format. The arrival of more task sensitive tabs has made it even less likely to be used.

I won't miss the lack of a vertical ribbon in Revit

Sorry, don't have any ACAD experience. I use a 1920 x 1200 screen. The vertical ribbon would be preferred by me. Horizontal just makes the screen that much more oddly shaped. I believe a minimum horizontal size of the vert ribbon could be a way to design around.

I think Chad has a good point. Part of the reason I have stayed away from ribbons in AutoCAD is the inefficient use of space, vertical or horizontal. Our AutoCAD setup has dozens of buttons for various functions blocks and tools. To implement the same amount of information in the ribbon would have taken a huge amount of real estate.

With that said I can see how useful it could be but it doesn't quite seem ready for prime-time as it stands now. I'd love to use a vertical ribbon, but not like the example shown. As Chad stated, there's a lot of wasted space.

I understand your philosophy around sizes of buttons but I think it is too basic. The people buying Revit, in any form, theoretically are professionals who have been doing this for a while. In a certain respect the bigger icons seem to indicate a simpler user. I think you could lean more to the tool bar style of Illustrator or Photoshop and not hurt usability. Granted it can't be nearly as simple but the buttons don't need to be huge either.


The vertical ribbon would be much better suited to the newer wide screen monitors we're using. I understand that there are many challenges in making both vertical and horizontal ribbons.
As a compromise, would it be possible to offer an Auto-Hide option on the ribbon? It's a function that's been in Acad for a while now (perhaps you could steel some code from those Acad developers).


Thanks for the feedback. The large vs. small icon is an interesting topic. In studies there were many times when we found the larger icon helped anchor the panel and increase discoverability/learnability. For expert users this is less of an issue and thus less popular. Inventor did explore a mode where all icons could be small as an expert setting for their release. Tom may post something on this in the days to come so stay tuned. In general code is not easily shared between applications but this should get easier as the company standardizes on underlying technology and shared components.

"It was not sufficiently clear when scrolling was required or where to click on the scrollbar."
So how is this being resolved/handled in AutoCAD? Isn't the idea of similar Ribbon UI to help users migrate from one application to another. So when an AutoCAD user migrates from AutoCAD to Revit, they now have prior knowledge of where and how to scroll a vertically placed Ribbon.
New users to Revit who haven't come from another Autodesk products will learn the vertical Ribbon in the same way a new AutoCAD user does.
If feels like you are leaving out some other information for the absence of the vertical Ribbon in Revit.

"In general code is not easily shared between applications but this should get easier as the company standardizes on underlying technology and shared components."
I think you will find a lot of Revit users will find that getting some common modeling tools between the Revit flavours a more pressing issue than standardised technologies between Revit and non-Revit applications.

How the vertical orientation is working in AutoCAD is reviewed by their designers. In sharing these components there is a lot of two-way collaboration but ultimately we need to ensure all the features work well in the Revit environment. This may lead to a smaller feature set. A migrating user will not see the vertical option in Revit but the horizontal one will work in a familiar fashion.
As mentioned in the FAQ decisions about new features or feature sharing are handled at the product manager level. Tom did state we try to influence this when our research uncovers trouble with a feature or lack thereof.


To take a quote from an earlier blog article;
"This [The Ribbon] is part of a corporate effort to unify the way our flagship products (that is, AutoCAD and it's verticals, along with Inventor®, Revit® products and 3ds Max®) look and behave."

Yet, in this and other articles there is a common theme of changing the UI to suit the software, in this case for Revit.
So far we have differences of having a Vertical ribbon or not, coloured icons or grey, or big icons or small and/or with text labels.
This is getting confusing, the Ribbon is supposed to bring uniformity to the top Autodesk apps, yet the individual development teams still have the right to change things as they see fit. Does this suggest that a one size fits all approach actually doesn't work?

It also sounds as though each development team is performing their own UI usability studies. If the Ribbon UI is supposed to be consistent between apps, wouldn't that suggest that the outcome of said studies would be consistent too?

The 3/23 post is all about this. Consistency can be defined at many levels and one size certainly does not fit all as the paper in the post suggests. Each product had some flexibility to accommodate their specific user and product needs and each product tested to determine this. There was a lot of collaboration so that consistent results in the studies were handled at the right level. Aside from any differences the products share more than before. Prior there were a large number of complaints about unnecessary differences among the products.

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