Using the Ribbon in VB.NET

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Using the Ribbon
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A good developer has to be a good user. This means that to build a state-of-the-art user interface in your application, you have to know all about the control suite that you use. Windows 7 comes with built-in support for the Ribbon, also known as the Windows Ribbon Framework. Good examples for the User Interface change that the Ribbon can make are the two Windows built-in applications: Microsoft WordPad and Microsoft Paint. You can compare between the user interface and user experience of these two applications on Windows XP/Vista to the new Windows 7. Figure 11-2 shows the new Paint UI comparing the Vista Paint UI.
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268 Introducing Windows 7 for Developers
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Figure 11-2 The new and old look of Paint.
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Develop with the Windows Ribbon, Part 1 269
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Figure 11-3 shows new WordPad UI comparing to the UI in Vista.
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Figure 11-3 The new and old look of WordPad.
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I encourage you to play with the Ribbon in these applications as well as the Ribbon of Office 2007 so that you can become familiar with the various options they contain. Let's take a short tour of Ribbon land, beginning with Figure 11-4.
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270 Introducing Windows 7 for Developers
Quick Access Toolbar Application Menu Tab Help button
Group
Gallery
Figure 11-4 The Ribbon components.
We ll start from the top-left corner. First you see the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), which is a small toolbar populated with a few tiny icons. The most frequently used commands can be found there.
You can add any control of the ribbon to the QAT by right-clicking on that control and selecting Add To Quick Access Toolbar. You can remove an item from the QAT by rightclicking the control and selecting Remove from Quick Access Toolbar.
The QAT contains a customization menu that enables you to easily add or remove selected items from the QAT. If there is not enough room to show all the icons in the QAT, it can be expanded by clicking the expand button (the double-arrow icon).
Play with the menu options. You ll see what the Show Quick Access Toolbar Below The Ribbon option does. You should also try the Minimize The Ribbon option.
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Develop with the Windows Ribbon, Part 1 271
Below the QAT in the left corner, you can find the main application button. Clicking this button opens the application menu, a remnant of the old menu that contains the most usable menu items that used to be in the top-level menu, especially items from the File menu.
Near the application menu, you find a series of tabs. In the case of Paint, there are two tabs: Home and View. You ll find the same tab names and items in applications as you did with the old menu-based UI. Usually, the Home tab contains the most frequently used commands for manipulating the document, editing, and so on. The View tab handles view settings such as zoom in, zoom out, hide the status bar, and toggle full-screen mode.
272 Introducing Windows 7 for Developers
In addition to the resident tabs, you might also have a contextual tab. A contextual tab is one that appears in a specific context for example, in Paint, the Text tab appears whenever the user chooses the text tool.
When you select a different tab, you switch the content of the body of the Ribbon. The body contains groups of icons, each representing an action or command. You have many group layouts you can choose from: on the View tab, the zoom group has three big icons in a row; in the Clipboard group on the Home tab, there is one big Icon for paste and two small icons for the cut and copy operations. Each icon might also have a ToolTip. ToolTips help the user understand the purpose of the icon, even though a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words. Groups can contain many different UI elements, such as buttons, check boxes, drop-down buttons, as well as the most exciting element, the gallery. In Paint, you can see the Shapes gallery and the Brushes gallery for example.
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