What’s on the menu?

Thinking about it, the Ribbons in Excel 2007 are not that revolutionary. They’re horizontal, visual representations of what were the dropdowns that appeared from the menu bars; re-organised allegedly to be more logically grouped. For some reason, I felt that they were marketed as something more than that in the run-up to the launch of Vista and Office 2007.

It’s the re-organisation that troubles me, possibly because the grouping is still not fully logical, possibly because it’s different from the File | Edit | View | Insert | Format | Tools | Data | Window grouping of its predecessor. I read a very short article on Daily Dose of Excel recently that said nothing more than if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Excel 2007, you’ll find it on the Insert menu.

Apologies: I’m rambling, but I’m allowed given the title of the blog. (I’ve never really considered after naming the blog whether it lives up to its name. Another segue.) Basically, I still don’t quite know where to look for stuff in Excel 2007. My preconceptions are obviously still there, formed by 20 years in Lotus 1–2–3 and pre-2007 versions of Excel. But when I can’t immediately find something now, I try to ask myself “where would it logically be” and often fail to come up trumps. The Home menu doesn’t seem right to me, combining lots of formatting stuff with content movement (Copy/Cut, Paste and its various offspring, insertion and deletion of columns and rows), and sorting and filtering.

To me, it would make more sense to have a Format menu item and an Operate item, the latter to cover the likes of insertion and deletion, clearing, filling, finding, selecting. (Shit! I’ve just realised that almost nothing in the Edit sub-menu within Home has anything to do with editing. Sort, Filter, Find, Select, Sum, Fill have nothing to do with editing!) All of your filtering and sorting should be firmly in the Data menu item.

And why the fuck PivotTable/PivotChart button is under the Insert menu and not the Data menu beggars belief. (If everything inserted goes in the Insert menu, then why don’t Insert Function and Insert Row/Column join the party?)

I like the concept. However I believe there was a set of workshops held by Microsoft (some of the most important workshops in Excel’s history) in which Post-Its containing all of Excel’s functions were arranged into areas on a whiteboard. But the wrong people turned up. (I didn’t get an invite.) So the result is OK, but it’s not quite right.

As an aside, I’m wondering whether things should ever appear in more than one location. Or should everything have one and only one home?

BTW, I’ve held off on writing such a post until a month after starting to use Office 2007, to allow my opinion to mature.


4 Responses to “What’s on the menu?”

  1. Tom Viner on June 28th, 2008 00:18

    In the physical world objects can only be in one location at any given time. Eg in a library each book can only be in one shelf position which represents a specific narrow category on the Dewey decimal system. But books can be about more than one topic (or be written by more than one author for non-fiction).

    On the internet we are free of these physical constraints hence Google’s inspired decision to use labels instead of folders to categorise emails in GMail. And the growing use of tags instead of categories as means of organising content on web2.0 sites.

  2. Tom on June 28th, 2008 10:14

    *(or be written by more than one author for fiction).

  3. Tom on June 28th, 2008 22:17

    Are you going to roll back to previous version of Office then if it’s that bad?

  4. Dan on June 28th, 2008 22:31

    Nope. Persevering

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