Reality Check

It was with a bit of surprise that I read a flurry of stories on Friday with breathless headlines like “Microsoft backs off the Ribbon in Office 2007!” and “Microsoft Cuts Office 2007 Ribbon!” Part of working at a company like Microsoft is that people are interested in what we do. This means that even…

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Giving You Fitts

One of the most well-understood and salient principles underlying the ergonomics of graphical user interface design is Fitts’ Law. Named for Paul Fitts, a psychologist at Ohio State University, Fitts’ Law is a mathematical model of fine motor control which predicts how long it takes to move from one position to another as a function…

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Recently Used Documents

One of the efficiency affordances added to Office over a decade ago is the Recent Documents list. At the bottom of the File menu in Office 2003, you’ll see your four most recently-opened documents listed; you can click one of them to open the file directly. Looking at customer data from Office 2003, it becomes…

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Which Color When? (Part 2)

On Thursday, I wrote about how Office 2003 renders the user interface using a table of several thousand colors. Some of you commented that we’re crazy to do so much work. Perhaps, but keep in mind that I’m not just talking about the menus and toolbars; every color used in the interface of every program,…

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Which Color When? (Part 1)

As you probably know by now, each of the Office 2007 programs (both classic UI and new UI) have the ability to render themselves in several different color schemes. What determines which color scheme is used when, and what are the defaults? Before discussing Office 2007, let’s jump back and talk about Office 2003 for…

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On Writing

Some of you have noted that recently I’ve been writing a little less frequently than in the months before. For a long time, I did five articles a week; recently, I’ve been doing three or four most weeks. One reason for this is that I’ve been trying to write longer, more detailed articles rather than spreading a…

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Running With the Popular Crowd

I’ve written in the past about the approach we took to organizing options in Office 2007, including a misguided detour in creating an “expert mode.” Today I want to start a discussion of some of the options available in Word 2007 by sharing those settings you’ll see on the first page as soon as you…

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Evolution of the PowerPoint Home Tab

A few months ago, I made an attempt to give you a sense of the kinds of changes to the user interface you’d be likely to see between Beta 2 and the final product. In particular, I guessed that we had made over a thousand individual tweaks to the contents of the Ribbon, although now…

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