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 Le 2010-10-15 14:38, Graham Lauder a écrit :
Just use plain text in your email client, switch off the HTML
Or use another email client like Thunderbird.  Pegasus can be problematic


Here is a resend of the message I sent earlier this morning. I am using Thunderbird, just like this morning. It seems automatic detection to see whether the message was using HTML or not did not work. Let's see if it works better when I expressly set the message as text only.
(I generally don't have any problems with other text-only lists).


I wonder what is the interest of Microsoft and others
in replacing menus with a ribbon-like interface.
I think it brings the worst in terms of usability. Why?

- We have grown to use a certain menu organization.
File, Edit, Format, Tools, Windows and Help are, in that order,
fairly standard menu items in all applications,
and even the basic list of menu items is even fairly standardized.
The ribbon interface changes that to a certain extent and requires a relearning process.

-There are a few menu items that are easily displayed with icons,
but most icons are either very hard to read or require a lot of real estate or both.
Look at Microsoft Word or at WordPad on System 7 and look
at icons used for page or paragraph margins, or for search and replace
(very similar to the one for spelling). Because of that, Ms Office 2010
and WordPad adds text below many icons (more real estate)
and a tool tip which is basically the former menu item.

- Because of real estate requirements, there are a limited
number of buttons that may be displayed on a screen,
whether it is with a traditional set of buttons a la Office 3.2
or with a ribbon a la Microsoft Office 2007-2010.
So there is a need for multiple menus that call different
ribbons like Ms Office. or buttons that need still another
action like custom margins.

- Using a typical menu item requires one move with the mouse:
move it to the top to select the menu and slide it
 toward the menu item, then release.
Sub menus require a little more dexterity.
On the other hand, using a typical ribbon "menu"
item requires a move and two clicks:
a first click at the top to select the proper ribbon,
then a click on the proper icon.
And because of the limited real estate,
it is more likely that one then falls
onto yet another dialogue box.

- A traditional tool bar is always there;
so its commands may be accessed very quickly.
But it works only because of its limited number of icons.

So what would be the best approach?
Probably a mix of both systems.

 - A traditional menu system for structured commands.
In a word processor, I see comprehensive commands like Page setup,
Paragraph setup, Font setup, Style setup (with a dialog box
like that of Office 2003), Table setup, etc.
Simple commands like "Align to the left" could either be
in a submenu or even forgotten altogether because they already are
accessible through the Paragraph Setup dialog box.
Displaying them in a submenu makes learning
and training easier : the command is seen, its shortcut is seen, etc.

 - If a ribbon-like approach is used,
there should be shortcuts not only for items,
but also for each of the ribbons. For instance, I should be
able to press alt-F for the File ribbon, alt-E to show
the Edit ribbon, etc... and each of these shortcuts
should become as standard as control-Z, X, C and V
for the basic cut and paste possibilities.
Of course, control-C for Cut and control-shift-L
(or control-L) for Align-left should also exist
for a direct access to menus.

- Icons are good when the graphic is obvious to all
and when clicking on it has a direct result.
One of the major pitfalls I currently see is that most
are non-configurable (same problem with Microsoft Office
and OpenOffice). So for me, the Left-Align and Bold icons
work (but the keyboard shortcuts are so quicker),
but the bullet icon doesn't work for me
because it does not use my preferred settings:
I would like it to apply my "Bullet 1" setting
(usually a hanging indent of 1 pica with no further indent,
but some documents have a different style definition).
Ditto for the 5 or 6 different Page Setting icons that
are defined in Ms Word 2007: none of them
have the margins I need for my documents,
therefore I can't use any of them!

How would a mixed system work?
One way to do it would be to have the menus first, followed by ribbons.
For instance, the new LibreOffice would have
File-Edit-Display (maybe)-Insert-Format-Table-Tools-Window menus,
then Basic (file and edit ribbon items)-Insert-
Format (document, paragraph and text items)-Table ribbons.
The menu could appear either on a single line or on two lines
if/when the window is too narrow.

Finally, should a ribbon sit on the right or at the top?
Why not have it either way?
The ribbon is a glorified toolbar
and traditional toolbars have worked in either position,
either docked or undocked.
So why not have the "ribbon menus" call a toolbar anyway?

By the way, since we talk of a new interface, one aspect
I don't like of OpenOffice 3.x are the toolbars that appear
and disappear according to paragraph styles or other random options.
For instance, when bullets are chosen (or a bullet style),
the bullet toolbar appears (by default at the top)
and shifts all text down 1 cm. Go back to a standard
paragraph and it shifts up again. Why not have a user
interface made with one or two user-defined toolbars
like we currently have on OpenOffice 3.x and Ms Office 2003,
plus one toolbar that would be always there,
albeit with variable content (a.k.a. the "ribbon").
Users would decide where they want that big grey box
and LibreOffice would fill in the proper icons.


Michel Gagnon
Montréal (Québec, Canada) <>

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