We are currently making a major change in the UI for Message Analyzer, based on your direct feedback and usability studies. The ribbon menu UI, similar to Office, presented new features and commands to users in a visual way and helped make them more discoverable. However, we’ve started running into challenges with the Ribbon UI. As we added more features and tackled complex user scenarios, we decided to switch to a menu/toolbar UI, similar to Visual Studio.
One of the biggest challenges with the ribbon UI is that it can only show commands for the selected viewer. For instance, in order to click the Clear command for a Grouping view that is not in focus, you have to select the viewer first.
By having separate toolbars for each viewer, similar to Visual Studio, the commands for each viewer are always visible, closer to the content, and always a single click away.
Note: this is bound to evolve before we release, but the basic ideas won’t change. Also be aware, stuff like Asset Manager, Tool Windows and Options are under the Tools menu now.
In the example above, the top toolbar is reserved for the most common global commands. We also attempted to expose some features like Aliases, Shift Time and Unions to make them more discoverable. And like Visual Studio, the drop-down menu at the very top exposes every command through submenus.
Then per visualizer, we have toolbars that are contextual. The Analysis Grid has commands related to it, at the top of the window, which follow it when you drag the window around or let it float. The Grouping View to the left, has a different set of buttons that relate to actions for Grouping.
You also get more real-estate in actual use. While you can minimize the ribbon, it seemed the contextual visualizer buttons required you to keep it open.
What do you think?
Feedback is always a big focus for us, and we’ll continue listen to improve. In fact, we do a lot of external prototyping, you can explore and help us refine, using the File->Options->Features tab to enable. Based on the positive feedback we’ve received from user studies with prototypes and early development builds, we’ve made the decision to part ways with the ribbon and switch to menus and toolbars. However, we would like to hear your feedback in the comments below on what you think and if there is a way to ease the transition to the new UI.