Things aren’t moving backwards

No, things aren’t moving backwards at all!

Let’s look at some of the awesome new features of a couple of current-gen Microsoft products:

Windows 7: One of my FAVOURITE features is the way it assumes that I, as a user, am too stupid to know how to resize a window: apparently, if I want to move a window mostly off the right-hand side of the screen, what I actually want to do is resize that window so that it takes up half the screen! Apparently I’m too fucking retarded to know that I can achieve the same result by simply moving my mouse to the top-left or bottom-left corner of the window and just resizing it. Of course I’m not sure how it thinks I intended to resize the window, given that the resizing corners at the right are off-screen.

Similarly, if I want to move a window to the top of the screen, that means I want to maximize! Apparently, I’m too fucking retarded to know to just press the maximize button like people have been doing for about 20 years. Apparently, after moving my small scite window to the top of the screen, I planned to use the resize corners to resize it so that it filled the whole screen, rather than just pressing maximize. It’s really great that I have this software to do my thinking for me: I’d been struggling with that whole ‘maximize’ notion for years.

So we’ve established that Microsoft thinks my intelligence lies somewhere between that of Mac user and an inanimate carbon rod.

However, when I want to access the New-And-Improved(TM) ribbon interface and add a button to it programatically via VBA – you know, so that my (retarded) users just get a new button they can click to make things happen, I find that:

(from A Blog Post):

You cannot create ribbon elements dynamically in VBA

It is not possible to create ribbon elements dynamically via code as 
with Office 2003, where you could manage your own CommandBars and 
CommandBarButtons.

In Excel 2007 each ribbon element (Tab, Group, Buttons, etc.) needs 
to be defined statically and embedded in the Excel document using a 
specially crafted XML file and with quite a few manual steps, 
including renaming and modifying contents of the Excel document —
factually a ZIP with the XLSM or XLAM extension.

And:

(from This Book):

In previous versions of Excel, it was relatively easy for end users 
to change the user interface. They could create custom toolbars that
contained frequently used commands, and they could even remove menu 
items that they never used. Users could display any number of 
toolbars and move them wherever they liked. Those days are over.
	
The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is the only user-customizable UI 
element in Excel 2007. It's very easy for a user to add a command to 
the QAT, so the command is available no matter which ribbon tab is 
active. The QAT can't be moved, but Microsoft does allow users to 
determine whether the QAT is displayed above or below the ribbon.

The QAT is not part of the object model, so there is nothing you 
can do with it using VBA.

So, to boil it all down, there’s no way for me to programatically add a new toolbar button using this wonderful new interface, which means that my users (who, as previously established, are assumed to be about as clever as sponges) are expected to add a toolbar button themselves by following a set of instructions which I have to put together for them. Never mind the fact that this will inherently create a bunch of issues just in terms of support (e.g: morons calling me up asking what I mean by ‘right-click’ in step 6; users choosing a different icon, or giving the new button a different caption, ruining the uniformity of the interface), how I’m supposed to convey a concept as complex as ‘add a toolbar’ to a retarded grasshopper is strangely ommitted from the documentation I’ve looked through.

No, things aren’t moving backwards at all…

Watch out for the next installment of this series, where we’ll analyse why it’s a good thing to remove features from your program so that the interface isn’t cluttered anymore, because having a complex interface is a terrible, terrible thing, and menus are so unintuitive.

I hear that next year Microsoft is going to help the people at NASA Mission control replace their hideously complex systems (sometimes people have to TYPE THINGS at mission control!) with a (touchscreen) button (with round corners, of course!) that says “Launch Rocket” (in the tooltip, which you can’t see, because it’s a touchscreen – The icon will simply be a cartoony V2 rocket). It’s expected that this will lead to huge efficiency gains in the rocket launching process, and will probably only cause a 20-30% increase in catastrophes.

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