A while back, ok several years ago, I took a look at the new (at the time it was new) ribbon. I was interested in porting my Custom Toolbars into the new and improved format. At the time I spent hours trying to digg up information on the subject.
To put things bluntly, MS messed up good on the implementation!
This is not to say that the ribbon is not a powerful tool and all the rest of that.
That said, it has been implemented in what I consider an incomplete form. MS provides no tool, to develop custom ribbons, no built-in callback routines…, no access to the ribbon built-in images, and so many more flaws I don’t even know where to start! It is a mess.
Then they still support old custom toolbars, but you have no way to edit, delete or work with them directly. You have to revert back to using 2003 or prior, or develop your VBA own code to interact with them.
The whole situation smells bad.
So what is one to do. First off, you have to realize, that the entire Office suite Ribbon is fully customizable and to work with it you can use a Custom UI Editor, EXCEPT for MS Access. That’s right, as usual, MS Access is in a category of its’ own. What a surprise!
Firstly, get ready to do a lot of reading, before you are even ready to tackle creating a ribbon. Here are a few places to start:
For MS Access, try http://www.ribboncreator.de/en/ The ribbon creator is a graphical interface to create the required XML and VBA code. Basically, what MicroSoft forgot to include in its’ own software!!! At the very least it will speed up development and you can tweak what it generates.
All in all, the ribbon, because of the way MS has choosen to implement a half baked technology, is a miserable failure (from the developer’s perspective)! Actually, even from the end-user’s perspective also. Where I used to be able to load 6 toolbars containing 50 icons (or more) where I had all the commands I needed at my finger tips, I now have 1 ribbon containing 10-20 commands. You end up spending your time flipping back and forth, all day, between tabs! It is never ending and teadious after a while. This is MS’ idea of empowering the end-user? Come on! But hey, it looks cool dude! This is the best that the best minds at MS could come up with; seriously!!!
That said, I believe MS has other plans for the ribbon, probably a way to introduce the end-user to the new layout, flow to be expected in future releases of their OS or other programs. Let use not forget the fact that MS is playing a major game of catchup with MAC.