Removing the Ribbon for Message Analyzer

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.

Comments (12)

  1. Thank you for the useful information.

  2. Thank you for the useful information.

  3. Paul E Long says:

    @Koby, thanks for the feedback. It’s something we can consider.

  4. Paul E Long says:

    @Nori, in terms for filtering and loading speed, Message Analyzer should be much faster. If you run into a case where it is not, please let us know the details so we can follow up and determine how we can fix that specific performance problem.

    As for footprint, we get some of our performance by caching and using memory, which increases the footprint. Can you specify what kind of footprint are you talking about? Is it space on disk for the MSI? Is it the total space on disk it takes? Or is it the
    memory footprint? If it’s the later, can you tell me if you are running into a specific problem, like you can’t run MA because of an reported memory error?



  5. Anonymous says:

    Of course thank you for your efforts and for providing Network Monitor and Message Analyzer.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, the problem was a pop-up blocker… Seems there was a change to the Download site that caused both Chrome and IE to block some popup that launched the download. Also sorry for the spam; I can’t delete my comments 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why am I struggling to download Message Analyzer? It should be simple, I click and a download starts. I need Message Analyzer and this isn’t working:

    I have been trying for an hour… I feel I should have just downloaded an archived version of Network Monitor instead of running around to monitor some LDAP traffic…

  8. Paul E Long says:

    Deepak, thanks for your feedback. We have done even more work on performance and have found some scenarios that we are able to improve. But understand that it is very data sensitive. For the tests and data we perform, we are much faster than Netmon, but
    there are so many different cases that we need your help. If you have data and examples you could share with us, we can use that to understand the root cause in your situation. If that’s possible, I would love to have you contact me through Email Blog Author
    link on this page.



  9. Nóri says:

    Very nice change. But what I want first and foremost is the same speed as Network Monitor. And a small footprint for installation.

  10. Koby Kahane says:

    If you’re emulating Visual Studio and insist on upper case menus, at least add a configurable "Turn off upper case in the menu bar" option like in the latest Visual Studio updates.

  11. Deepak R Bharadwaj says:

    Hi Paul, I have been using Message Analyzer for the last year and should be honest that i am yet to get comfortable with it. The tool is just to slow, hogs the memory and opening large files is a pain to say the least. NetMon was a wonderful tool, lightweight
    and fast, honestly you could have done enhancements to that. Please fix the performance issues with the tool for better experience,

  12. Boris Bahes says:

    Stop changing UI with each release.

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