Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Vista and Menus

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http://daringfireball.net/linked/2006/september#thu-21-menu_bars_windowsAssuming you’ve used either Windows Vista or Office 12, you have probably noticed a distinct lack of menus (in the traditional sense, at least) in any of these applications. John Gruber of Daring Fireball mentioned this a few days back on his blog, and mused about what it might mean for Adobe:

While the candy-colors-and-lots-of-transparent-effects cosmetic look-and-feel of Vista is quite obviously inspired by Mac OS X’s Aqua, at a deeper level, Microsoft’s and Apple’s UI design patterns are diverging.

This all stems from a post on Shell Revealed (remember that site?) by Dave Vronay:

One of the first things people notice when they start using Vista is the absence of menu bars. Explorer, photo gallery, media player, and IE all don’t show menus by default and just use the so-called “command module.” What is up with that? Do we hate menu bars? And more importantly – what is the guidance that third-party developers are supposed to follow?

Read all the way down into the comments on this one. There are quite a few interesting and insightful notes added in by Dave’s readers.

And as for my opinion? I hate menus. I really do. They’re just dumb, especially as implemented in a lot of Mac OS X apps. Take a look at Xcode, where you have to pick your way through tons of menu items that are disabled in most cases. It’s really annoying, and not very friendly to your users. (of course, I am biased on this…)

Visual Studio, at least has a notion of removing menus and menu items on a contextual basis; if you’re not in the web designer portion of VS, you’ll never see commands for checking your web page’s WCAG compliance, for example.

I’m not quite sure what we could do to rip out menus from Visual Studio; it would be a daunting task. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe we could simply drop the Ribbon into VS and expect it to work beautifully :-) (if you’re curious as to why, feel free to ask and I will elaborate).