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RibbonX: Customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon Paperback – Jan 10 2008


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From the Back Cover

Microsoft MVPs teach you new skills for customizing the Ribbon

If you like to build custom applications or customize the Office user interface, this book is for you. Written by a team of Microsoft MVPs, it shows you—step by step—how easy it is to modify the Microsoft Office® 2007 Ribbon, how the Ribbon works, and how you can customize it to add functionality. You'll learn to leverage the RibbonX API to hide, create, add, and group controls.

Along with techniques for using XML, VBA, and Access macros, you'll find clear instructions, practical examples, and real-world code you can use. This is the perfect guide for beginners, developers, and power users alike.

  • Explore the Ribbon user interface and Quick Access Toolbar

  • Access the CustomUI Editor and start modifying

  • Learn the essentials of XML and why you need it

  • Write and debug your own code with Visual Basic® for Applications (VBA)

  • Master RibbonX basic controls and create custom, static, and dynamic menus

  • Deploy your Ribbon customizations across files

  • Gain a working knowledge of key aspects of Office security such as digital certificates and privacy settings

Inside you'll also find a handy table of RibbonX tags, a tool to quickly reveal the imageMso references and generate its XML, and much more.

About the Author

Robert Martin is an Excel MVP and Microsoft Certified Professional. With a background in finance, he has worked as an IT director for an investment bank in the UK, and worked on charitable projects in Africa before turning to authoring on MS Office development.

Ken Puls is an Excel MVP and a Certified Management Accountant in Canada. He works as the Controller of a resort, teaches Excel courses, and has authored all of the articles at the www.excelguru.ca website.

Teresa Hennig is an Access MVP and president of the Pacific Northwest Access Developer Group and the Seattle Access Group. She is the lead author of the Access VBA Programmer's Reference series and is a lead on three national committees for INETA. Her company, Data Dynamics Northwest, provides data management solutions and consulting services.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Valuable, comprehensive, authoritative, occasionally frustrating Jan. 27 2008
By Bill Coan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The more serious you are about customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon, the more you'll like this valuable, comprehensive, authoritative, but occasionally frustrating book. The flow of information in the book isn't always from the simple to the complex, and some of the chapters are less well written than others (about which, more later), but the authors have succeeded in giving you everything you need in order to take charge of the user experience within Access 2007, Excel 2007, and Word 2007.

The authors don't merely explain ribbon customizations and then declare themselves done. They recognize that ribbon customizations would be nearly useless if not backed by appropriate automation routines and by deployment methods that comply with Office security requirements. As a result, they go to considerable extra effort to provide introductory and advanced chapters on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming, plus a chapter on deployment of customizations and also a chapter on Office security.

The book devotes a separate chapter to each of the various types of controls found on the Ribbon. These include basic controls (buttons, checkboxes, edit boxes, toggle buttons), combobox/dropdown controls, custom pictures/galleries, menus, and controls that the authors refer to as "formatting" elements (boxes, groups, labels, separators). Each of these chapters is organized in the same way. Element names, attribute names, and allowed values are fully documented, as are the VB/VBA callback signatures for dynamic attributes. Best of all, each chapter includes examples of RibbonX code and VBA routines for accomplishing something useful with each type of control.

One of the most helpful chapters in the book is devoted to working with contextual controls, i.e., controls presented to the user only in certain contexts, such as when a particular type of object is selected within the host application. This chapter covers techniques for controlling the visibility of ribbon tabs, groups, and individual controls, and it shows how to enable or disable these items when their visibility can't be controlled. The chapter even demonstrates how to supplement contextual ribbon controls with contextual command bars (right-click menus). Superb!

The introductory VBA chapter covers the VBA editor, subroutines, functions, object models, branching structures, arrays, and debugging. The advanced VBA chapter provides valuable tips for working with collections, working with classes, working with web services, creating custom properties for built-in objects, and saving and retrieving registry values-all of which can be exploited when customizing the ribbon.

The book's appendices include lists of RibbonX tags, idMso names for built-in tabs and groups, imageMso names for images on built-in ribbon controls, and key tips and accelerator keys. Also included are an appendix that lists suggested naming conventions and another that lists additional resources on the web.

Readers who are new to XML and/or to the RibbonX vocabulary and/or to the new Office XML file formats will experience some frustration when trying to decipher the first three chapters and parts of later chapters. In all cases, the information such readers need is there, but some of it isn't well organized, and some of it isn't well written. The book's first example of RibbonX isn't as simple as it could have been, and some of the simplest customizations (including disabling built-in controls) are held back until Chapter 13, where they are characterized as "advanced" concepts.

The chapter on "Accessing the User Interface Customization Layer" of the new Office XML file formats fails to explain what happens when an Office 2007 application opens an Office XML file. (The key steps are these: The application looks inside the zip-format XML file structure for a folder called _rels, and then looks inside that folder for a file called .rels, and then reads that file to find out where any customizations are stored.) Instead, the chapter forces the reader to follow a tedious example in order to discover the steps involved, and even then fails to spell out the steps explicitly. At one point, the chapter tells the reader to "return to the Custom UI editor to troubleshoot the XML code," despite the fact that the reader hasn't been told at that point what the Custom UI editor is, where to download it, or how to use it.

The chapter on callbacks fails to explain what happens when an Office 2007 application loads a user interface customization into memory. (One key step is this: The application reads the user interface element's "onLoad" attribute and then makes a call to the routine whose name has been assigned to that attribute.) Instead, the chapter simply tells the reader that "you need to specify a value" for that attribute. A reader with previous experience can make the necessary inference, but a reader new to the subject matter might not be able to do so and in any case shouldn't be required to do so.

The chapter on sharing and deploying ribbon customizations is well conceived and well written, but it includes a number of errors. For example, it says that "Any [ribbon] customizations stored in a template will travel with the documents created on the template." (Not true in Word 2007.) The chapter makes a confusing distinction between "add-in" templates and "global" templates in Word 2007. (By design in Word, all add-in templates are global templates. The meaningful distinction is between add-in templates loaded automatically at startup and those loaded later.) The chapter says that you have to quit Word and move an add-in out of the startup folder before you can edit it. (Not so. The add-in merely has to be unloaded.) The chapter says, "You cannot deactivate templates [in Word] as easily as in Excel. Word has no such option." (Not true. On the Developer tab, simply choose Document Template and then remove the checkmark next to the add-in template.)

The techniques described in the book can be employed by any user of Office without recourse to specialized programming tools other than XML Notepad and the Custom UI editor, both of which can be downloaded from Microsoft at no cost. So, if customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon is your goal, and if you have the patience to read and then reread some passages of the book along the way, then you will find in it everything you need in order to accomplish your goal.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
RibbonX Book Gets a "C" May 25 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers the new "Ribbon" interface used in Microsoft Office 2007. The Ribbon replaces the old menus and toolbars in Office programs, and unlike the menus and toolbars cannot be modified or added to easily. The new Office programs have only one toolbar, called the Quick Access toolbar, to which you can add toolbar buttons to run commands and macros; and there are no more menus.

The book teaches you the difficult process needed in order to modify the Ribbon in each Office program. It is not an easy process, as it involves writing XML code in addition to macro programming code. And opening the necessary XML files in order to modify them isn't easy either.

The book does a fairly good job of presenting the process, and documenting the various XML "tags" needed. However, it is not well written, and its explanations of the programming concepts are a bit muddled, especially for novices like me. The constant statements of "we'll explain this later" become aggravating after awhile; its like the authors themselves are feeling their way along with their readers. I guess by the end of the book, they have figured out what they were trying to teach; that should make the next edition a little better!

One thing you should know if you want to modify the Ribbon in the Office programs is that there are programs out there that have been and are being written to automate the process so that you don't really need to know the details in the depth this book attempts to teach. (But having this book could be a help in using and understanding those programs.) There are two programs available now, one of which is called RibbonCustomizer (and is very well designed).

Also, if you are a programmer using Visual Studio 2008, you can obtain from Microsoft a free addin called VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) that contains features that allow you to write your own programs to modify the Ribbon. I'm not sure about this (I'm a novice programmer myself), but I think the free VSTO addin for VS 2008 eliminates the need to purchase the VSTO program separately. You had to pay a hefty price for the VSTO program needed as an addin for VS 2005, but it seems that now it can be added for free to VS 2008.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
What are you waiting for? Jan. 21 2008
By Tony Jollans - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Everything about the Ribbon is new; all serious developers will need, and many others will want, to know how to customize it, and this book tells you how to do it. The authors have done a splendid job of explaining it all without assuming any prior knowledge, guiding the reader through the jungle of VBA and XML in three different applications. It is a huge subject and different people will want different things from it; the book is packed (but not cluttered) with clear cross-references so that you don't have to read everything to get up and running with the particular thing you want to do. No matter what your ability or experience you will learn from this book, I already have. As computer books go, it's better than most, it's cheap, and worth far more: buy it!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Embrace the Ribbon Jan. 30 2008
By Robert Larson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you are ready to work with Microsoft Office 2007, and make it your own, the book "RibbonX, Customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon" is the book for you. I started out with no XML knowledge, and no experience in customizing the new Office 2007 Ribbon, and within a very short time I had created my very first customized Ribbon. The book goes into some XML and VBA basics and is comfortable reading for a true beginner as well as those who may have more experience. In this past year, which I have been working with Office 2007, I have been intimidated by the thought of venturing into Ribbon territory. After reading this book, I no longer fear the Ribbon. In fact, I embrace the opportunities that are awaiting my use of it.

So, I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to be able to customize their own Office 2007 experience, or the experience of the users of their creation. You won't want to be without it.

Bob Larson
Access World Forums Super Moderator
Utter Access VIP
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
RibbonX Wow Factor Feb. 23 2008
By Doug Y. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While the new user interface of Office 2007, the ribbon, added some confusion in the beginning, the power behind customizing it definitely tips the scale toward "wow". This book helps developers harness the power behind the ribbon, and walks you through the steps to create your own custom ribbons.

I liked discovering the ribbon customization for the three applications discussed in the book (although I focused mainly on Access); and, the tools mentioned in the book, XML Notepad and the Custom UI Editor, made the process easier. While the book is also geared to users with little or no experience in ribbon development, if you are new to XML and VBA, it may not be as smooth a read as it would be if you already have some basic knowledge under you belt. However, if you are determined to learn the new techniques (and looking up this book is an indication that you are), you will end up gaining a solid foot in the custom ribbon development arena with the help of this book.


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