Microsoft Ribbon for WPF RTW!

Yesterday, we announced the July release of the Microsoft Ribbon for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). You can download the installer for this release here.

WPF ribbon sample application, RibbonWindowWord

This is great news for Windows developers looking to build rich, fluent user experiences. From the MSDN documentation:

The ribbon is a command bar that organizes the features of an application into a series of tabs at the top of the application window. The ribbon user interface (UI) increases discoverability of features and functions, enables quicker learning of the application, and makes users feel more in control of their experience with the application. The ribbon replaces the traditional menu bar and toolbars.

In short, this control library gives you the ability to incorporate a ribbon user experience in your applications today.

A Quick Background About the Ribbon User Experience

The ribbon was first introduced in Microsoft Office 2007 as a replacement to its traditional menu-driven design. At that time, customers were telling us that it was becoming difficult to navigate through the expanding features and commands that had been added over the years. This resulted in a non-optimal user experience as users had trouble finding what they were looking for. Even worse, the “cacophony” of options made it difficult for users to discover new functionality. Today, the ribbon has provided users of applications like Microsoft Word 2010 with a contextual and task-oriented user experience, allowing them to focus more on their work and less on the application itself (AKA, a big-time win for user productivity).

Microsoft Ribbon for WPF

For Windows developers, the ribbon provides a rich experience that you can incorporate quickly and easily for your WPF applications. What’s particularly cool about the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF is that it’s a control library that’s built 100% in pure WPF goodness.

File → New Project...

After downloading and installing the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF, you’ll find the WPF Ribbon Application project template listed for both Visual C# and Visual Basic:

New project templates for WPF Ribbon Application for both Visual C# and Visual Basic
New project templates for WPF Ribbon Application for both Visual C# and Visual Basic

This project template provides you with a very simple example to help get you started:

MainWindow example showing the Ribbon, RibbonTab, RibbonGroup and RibbonButton controls
MainWindow example showing the Ribbon, RibbonTab, RibbonGroup and RibbonButton controls

For a deeper examination of the XAML and control library that’s used to build this application, I strongly recommend that you read Pete Brown’s excellent summary of this release in a post entitled, Announcing: Microsoft Ribbon for WPF RTW. Pete also provides an important point (with emphasis added):

The new ribbon control is compatible with WPF 3.5sp1 and WPF 4. This is a 100% WPF implementation, not a wrapper around native code. That means you get all the great WPF styling capabilities for the new control.

This fact cannot be underscored enough. A true WPF implementation means that you can incorporate styling and rely on assumed WPF functionality (i.e. RibbonButton support the ICommand interface – wahoo!). Having built my fair share of WPF applications in the past – in some cases, wrestling with control interop and styling issues – I love this news.

So, what are you waiting for? Download Microsoft Ribbon for WPF today and start incorporating it into your applications!

Related Links

PS: If you building applications with Windows Forms, check out Windows Ribbon for WinForms project on CodePlex.

UPDATE: The WPF team has posted a great overview of the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF here along with a series of blog posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Comments (10)

  1. Plazeor says:

    I have to ask, how does this compare to the Fluent Ribbon Control Suite?

    I will be able to check out the official one within a week or two, it would be just nice to know which one works better.

  2. JH says:

    Looks pretty feature incomplete in my opinion. Styling isn't in line with what you see in MS Office. Not sure if you can integrate it right into the window itself?? Even beyond that, the lack of a different shade on the grouped icon sets (Group 1, Clipboard, Font etc. in the samples above) make it look unfinished.

    I've been using the XamRibbon from Infragistics (…/xamRibbon.aspx) It has some of its own quirks… but it's a LOT closer to what users want OOTB from the office look and feel than this control. If you want to spend the client's money having a developer spend time trying to re-model this to look the way the ribbon does in Office, it's cheaper to simply buy the control suite of from a vendor other than Microsoft, in my opinion.

    This control is underwhelming.

  3. <3 DaVillaL0/3R <3 says:

    This control is best in world at ribbon navigation! When will Great Josee DaVIlLA make his accordian song for it?!


  4. Joey deVilla says:

    re: "<3 DaVillaL0/3R <3"…

    …and I <3 my fan club!

  5. Plazeor says:

    Re JH:

    Not all of us can buy control suite after control suite to get the job done.  As well the free Fluent Ribbon does all the things the control you mentioned does but for free.  My client is much happier that I spent the time looking for free ways of getting the job done.  Having another free way of getting the look and feel I want is always welcome.

    My only hope is they don't drop the ball like the Office 2007 ribbon.  In Vista the thing never looked right and they never addressed it, maybe this is why.

  6. JH: The WPF team has published a number of blog posts on the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF. (I've updated this blog post with links to those posts.)

  7. JH says:

    @Plazeor: Waiting 2 hours in line at the gas station to fill up for $0.10/L cheaper, saving you a total of $8, is not worth it if your time is worth > $4/hour. It's an illusion. Only a perceived savings.

    You're forgetting that your time is worth money too. The time you spent investigating, learning to use, styling to make look closer to the Office environment (aka the experience that anyone who suggests using a ribbon is trying to sell to the end user and which any end-user would complain about when they see this control [see my original comment on this thread about this control being underwhelming]) _all_ cost, so "free" (as you say that "Fluent Ribbon" is) isn't exactly "free".

  8. @JH: Thanks for your feedback. The current release of the Ribbon library emulates the Windows 7 appearance, similar to what you see in Paint and Word Pad applications. This has been priority because WPF is part of the .NET platform that ships with Windows, and it is our premiere goal to enable developers to emulate built-in Windows applications. As for the sample we shipped, I understand that the poor quality of the images in it may be misleading. But be assured that it is the low grade images and not the underlying rendering that is at fault. To further allay your worries, I would like to point you to WebMatrix, a web development tool from Microsoft (…/download) that has been built using this same Ribbon library. All that said your feedback about the missing Office 2010 appearance is well taken. It is certainly one of the top candidates amongst the forthcoming work for the WPF Ribbon. Thanks again for reporting this. Ah and about the Groups and highlighting, I am not sure I understand you right. Office 2010 does not highlight Group headers such as 'Clipboard', 'Font' either, if that is what you meant. What am I missing? Could you please clarify? A screenshot with a pointer, would be great.

  9. Plazeor says:


    The time that is spent investigating which control to use is time that would have been spent anyway.  Using the first ribbon control you see is just plain foolish.  I investigated components from Sandock, ComponentOne, Microsoft 2007 ribbon as well as the Fluent Ribbon before making my decision.  Your argument about time spent learning the control is invalid as I would have to learn how to use the control for any of them by going through the documentation.

    I have to admit I did not play around with the XamlRibbon from Infragistics when I saw the $995 price tag, I just moved on to the next control.  As I assume your argument is still that this 1 control justifies paying at least $995 to use it.

  10. Stefan says:

    This control is really great. The only limitation is the window style in XP.

    With XP the classic look is only available – which is bad.

    How can I do a manual re-draw of the window frame as Varsha mentioned?

    Many thanks.

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