Friday, 22 January 2010

The Ribbon Control

Now I’m not a major fan of Microsoft’s ribbon control, and our clients have for the most part stuck with Windows XP, and Office 2003, so there has been no real call for it in our applications. However, with the advent of Windows 7, we are getting more and more calls for our application to look more like a Windows 7 and more specifically an Office 2007+ application.

To that end I have been experimenting with the ribbon control in Delphi 2010. And my am I frustrated. This is the buggiest component I have ever used out of the (Delphi) box. I add ribbon groups that disappear (I have found a workaround, by opening the form as a text file and back to form again) Icons initially appeared non-transparent, then started working. Sometimes actions would not have a caption. I’d delete the group, re-add the action, and the caption magically appears. It just seems so fragile. Has anyone actually managed to get anything but a hello world application, using a ribbon control, to actually work. and more importantly, not go nuts in the process.

This is why I protest so loudly at the Delphi pricing. Delphi 2009, touted the ribbon control and generics as two of it’s major plus points. Generics were barely useable until update 3, and then abandoned in Delphi 2009, with new fixes going in Delphi 2010. The ribbon control, I assume, was just as bad in Delphi 2009 as it is in Delphi 2010, if not worse.

Stop releasing new versions every 5 minutes, and fix the outstanding problems. Why should I have to get Delphi 2010 to fix the generics I paid for in Delphi 2009? Why should I now have to find a third-party ribbon control to fix what I paid for in Delphi 2010?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have learnt long ago, with ANY software, to expect announced features only to work one major version number further on.

In Delphi, I have also learnt to avoid many of the supplied components. Actions, back in the day, were a costly blind alley.

I have so far never been disappointed.

Having said that, I'm surprised the ribbon controls are still not mature for general use. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll avoid them.

Perhaps Toolbar2000 might be a starting point for a Win7 look-alike version?

http://www.jrsoftware.org

On second looks, it seems to have been abandoned. :(

Warren said...

Thanks for the heads-up.

I will steer clear.

Personally I think that the built-in toolbar components are not very good either, for those of us still trying to stick to an Office2003/OfficeXP look and feel.

W

Thomas said...

There are a few Fixes at the Site of the Developer of the VCL Ribbon Control available: http://jed-software.com/blog/ and http://twitter.com/jedsoftware,

Please email Jeremy at support@jed-software.com.

Fletch said...

Ribbons are a bad interface metaphor. I have been using MS Office for the past 3 months and I hate it! Ribbons take valuable screen space while, IMHO and experience, not adding any usability improvement.
Judging by this moronic video put out by some marketing dimmed-whit at Microsoft Ribbons seems to have missed their goal (Surprise!) - http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/archives/191539.asp.
Just give me back the menus, and the wasted space at the top of the screen, not a stinkin' game to teach me where they've hidden a formerly easily found setting or
property.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the notes. The more I hear about Delphi 2009/2010's problems, the less inclined I am to move from Delphi 7 (which is beautifully stable, has marvelous documentation and compiles perfectly). Oh, and is already paid for ;)

Steven Hook said...

Agreed. If you have it, TMS Software has a much more enterprise ready component set for ribbon controls. I have been using them for about a year or so. The initial configuration it quite time consuming but once you figure out how to use the stylers and what properties do what, TMS ribbons are quite impressive.

Azeroth said...

I won't discuss D2010 or your points because I'm _still_ using D7, but for Ribbon controls look no further: http://www.devexpress.com/products/VCL/Exbars/ribbon.xml

Rick said...

I second DevExpress Ribbon components. Do not waste your time with Delphi's in-built or any other (sorry TMS, yours look good too but we are a DevExpress house). They are simply awesome and even come with a menu/toolbar converter.

x-ray said...

i've found the D2009 TRibbon control to be frustrating to work with.

Ron said...

I do database apps and just haven't found a layout I like for it yet. I've gotten used to it in Office and do think it works pretty well for document based apps. But I haven't seen a database application layout with it that I've been happy with so far. To me the "Outlook" style layout is just a more natural layout.

Byron said...

Agreed. The D2009 and D2010 implementation of the Ribbon is awful.

The implementation by DevExpress is exceptional.

Jolyon Smith said...

Yep - the ribbon control in Delphi 2009 was nothing short of completely unusable. It didn't even function correctly in the sample/demo app!!

The fact that Embarcadero had the temerity to even release it in that state let alone make a BIG DEAL of it in many ways marked the beginning of the end of any credibility in my eyes.

(they talk about prioritising resources to deliver to their users/community and use this to justify/explain the continued slippage of 64-bit, yet waste time on half-assed implementations of controls that already exist in a far more professional state IN that community - meaning DevExpress in this instance).

Sadly Embarcadero == epic FAIL'age

SoulIntruder said...

Omg this is the first time I'am hearing that clients actually care about looks of their application.

I hope they will pay you for all the hassle ;-)