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One of the Pillars of the Word 2010 vision outlined in Scott's post on Framing the Release was "Polished User Experiences". This pillar represents a desire to dramatically improve a set of scenarios that define Word's core user experiences in terms of polish, ease of use, and responsiveness – basically, setting and holding a high bar for user experience excellence. Work that we did in support of this part of the vision isn't necessarily all new features, but is rather about looking at the experience of performing some common types of activities in Word, and evaluating not just whether you can be successful, but is the experience a good one – does is feel polished and seamless.
One such core scenario is working with long or structured documents, and the simple tasks of reading and moving around in the document, searching for content, or manipulating the outline and headings. Word 2007 and other previous versions of the product had a variety of relevant features or tools available, some of which date back many releases – in particular document map, find, and browse objects. The new Navigation Pane is an attempt to bring these features together in a fresh, cohesive and polished experience.
One of the new pieces of functionality you'll find in Word 2010 is something we call the "Navigation Pane". This pane hosts a set of related features for getting around in your document, searching for content, and manipulating the structure and organization of headings. Essentially, this task pane replaces and improves upon the old "Document Map" and "Thumbnails" panes, as well as integrating Find and even some aspects of the little known Object Browser.
By default, the pane is docked on the left (as shown above), but can be moved to the right, or even floated independent of the document window. You can show or hide the pane on the View tab of the ribbon.
The primary bits of the navigation pane are called out in the following figure, and then described in more detail in turn.
The headings view of the navigation pane, shown below, is the updated replacement for the document map. It is basically a series of nested "tabs", each of which corresponds to a heading in the document.
There is a wealth of functionality available here…
Clicking on the "Browse the pages in your document" tab gives you a view of all the pages in the doc. This is very similar to the thumbnails pane in previous versions of Word.
Clicking a page's thumbnail takes you to that page in the document, as always.
There are really only two big improvements in this part of the pane, when compared with the existing one:
Finally, the navigation pane hosts a search results list, as shown below.
This list contains and item for each of the matches in your document. In the example above, you can see I searched for "navigation", and it found 3 instances of the term, each of which is represented by a clickable item in the list, with a brief snippet of the surrounding text to give a bit of context. Clearly I took that screenshot early in the authoring process for this post, because there are now over a dozen hits, and I'm still writing… J
Clicking an item takes you to that location in the document.
In my next post, I'll discuss the new find experience in more detail.
Well I think that's about it for the basics of the new navigation pane. Based on early feedback, I'm pretty confident it is going to be useful for a great number of customers, in a variety of scenarios. There's a lot of room for additions in the future, but I think this is a super solid start that enables a lot of functionality.
There are a number of design decisions we made along the way, and I'd be interested in whether any of them will pose any problems for you. For example, as you can see in the images of the navigation pane, each heading takes up more vertical pixels than the old document map entries did. They're way more useful, but it's undeniable that you see fewer headings at a time without having to scroll the list. Similarly, you could configure the look of the old document map items by tweaking the doc map style, but now each heading is essentially a UI control, and so uses the default UI font. This also means that you don't see things like tracked changes or other formatting within the text of a heading as displayed on the heading tab. We also don't guess about things you might have intended to be headings, such as lines of text in bold or all caps – we strictly pay attention only to content with an explicitly applied outline level (unlike the old doc map, which would use autoformatting logic to add those levels). I do think we've found the sweet spot on all of these issues, but would be interested in feedback if you feel strongly to the contrary.
Thanks for reading, any comments or questions are welcome!
--Scott Walker, Lead Program Manager, Microsoft Word
These are great improvements. Reorganising the structure of a document this way is something I have been after for a long time. Can this same structure be used to insert cross references into text (which I do a lot) or do we still need to use that clunky - 1990's style - dialog box for that?
Hi Scott There is much to like about the new Document Map. > it's undeniable that you see fewer headings at a time without having to scroll the list I think this is a big problem. Your screen shot shows a document with 5 headings. Users rarely need to use Document Map in such a short document. Document Map comes into its own with big documents and dozens or hundreds of headings. The Word 2010 Document Map shows barely more than half as many headings as the old Document Map. This seriously reduces its usefulness. I'd really like to see the visual display tightened up so we can see as many headings as the old Doc Map showed us. >now each heading is essentially a UI control
I can see how the Word team thinks of it that way. But when creating a document, each heading is my text in my document. Heading text isn't a UI control from the user's point of view. >We also don't guess about things you might have intended to be headings This is a good move. Users found the old Doc Map confusing because they could not understand how text came to appear there. Now it's 100% clear. This is a big change for the better. Shauna Kelly
Will 3rd-party Office developers be able to add functionality to the Navigation Pane?
I second this question: "Will 3rd-party Office developers be able to add functionality to the Navigation Pane?" Will this be possible?
Wow. This change is radically different from the views we can get now with 2007. I am looking forward to the new version already.
Shauna - Thanks for the feedback Shauna. I'm glad you think the nav pane is generally a good step forward. When I said that each heading was a UI control, I was referring to the new tab-like control that represents the heading, not the actual content in the document. I totally agree with your statement. How many headings per inch would you want to see? I have been using the beta and other interim builds for a long while now, and most of my documents contains a significant number of headings (certainly more than the little demo doc I used to make screenshots for this post). While the number of headings I see in the navigation pane at any given time is smaller than in the old document map, I find that the 40 or so that do fit is usually sufficient. Generally (but not always) documents we see that have large numbers of headings have them organized in a hierarchy, with more subheadings the deeper you go. This means that when you're looking at level 1 or 2, they tend to all fit, and when you drill deeper you're localizing your focus, and again they often fit. Does that match your observation? How much do you feel we'd need to shave off of the button height to hit your ideal?
Paul, Bryan - No, the navigation pane will not be extensible, at least not initially. I can imagine a lot of great scenarios here though, so it is definately on the list of future enhancements. Specifically, what type of functionality would you like to be able to add (custom buttons in an existing view, controls around the views (below the scroll list), more top-level tabs, context menu commands)? All of the above, I suppose. :) Even without developer extensibility, I'd love to see it evolve to support something I guess you could call author extensibility, where one could use bookmarks or some new type of flag to add custom "heading tabs" or other landmarks in the heirarchy. --Scott (MS)
Hi Scott There are two design issues that determine how much of my text displays in the Document Map, and I think both need attention. 1. The new fixed elements at the top of the pane ("Navigation Pane", the search box, the tabs)take up considerable space. At 1024 x 768, I can see 41 items in the document map in Word 2007. The fixed elements in Word 2010 take up 5 items. So I've just lost 12% of my visible text. 2. Turning text into buttons takes up the space of another 14 of my headings. That's another 34%. So I've gone from seeing 41 items to 22 items. That's a big difference. >How much do you feel we'd need to shave off of the button height to hit your ideal? All of it. I don't understand why my text (read: *my* text ) needs to be turned into buttons. What was wrong with displaying just the text? It is an efficient use of space; people are used to clicking text (like hyperlinks in web pages); people are used to dragging text (as one can drag text around in the face of a document). So I think you should keep the new features of Document Map. But ditch the buttons! And tighten up the vertical display of the top of the navigation pane.
[Second response on a different issue.] You suggested that, because large documents tend to come with headings in hierarchies, people tend to be either (a) looking at level 1 or 2 or (b) have drilled down and are localizing their focus. I think that's true in the very early stages of creating a big document. But I don't think it's true as one gets into more detailed editing. As a real-world example from yesterday: I have a document of about 120 pages. In section 7.4.2 I'm writing about issue x. I know it relates to something I wrote in section 3. I want to ensure that what I say in the two places is consistent. So I go digging around in section 3 to find the earlier reference to x. It's in section 220.127.116.11. So I now have 3 levels of section 7 displayed and 4 levels of section 3 displayed. I want to be able to go back and forth between them. The other time that your scenario doesn't apply is in a document with appendixes. The only sensible way to create appendix headings is to use levels 6, 7 etc for heading appendixes. So users often have to display 6 or 7 levels of headings in order to see appendix headings. And, we have to allow for combining those two scenarios. For example, I'm writing in Appendix 6.2 (heading 7). I want to ensure that the content is consitent with the material in 7.4.2 (heading 3). So I need to display a lot of headings to swap back and forth efficiently.
Shauna - Thanks again for the input. As we finalize the visuals we'll keep your feedback in mind, though I’ll go out on a limb and say we won't be reverting all the way to plain text in the navigation pane hierarchy. From a usability point of view, it just doesn't fair as well.
From a design point of view, we really set out to make these feel more like buttons or even tabs like you’d have on the edge of a set of physical pages. Without that sense of them being tangible units, people don’t think of them as actionable (which is generally true of text-only tree controls). We further adorn the tabs/buttons with additional information at times, such as when another coauthor is present, the region contains a search match, or new content has been merged. That stuff could be done without the borders around the headings in the pane, but it works much better when they’re there.
As you observe and point out, there is no doubt we’re giving up quite a bit in terms of vertical real-estate with this design, but it was a conscious choice that hopefully most users will appreciate. Your scenario is a great example of when this new design will force you to scroll the map when you wouldn’t have had to in the past. I like to think the new functionality makes that worth it.
Does the Navigation pane show the subdocuments in a Master document (sort of like OpenOffice)? Do Master documents work now?
PeteB - The navigation pane does not show the subdocuments themselves, but will show headings that come from subdocuments.
in ms word 2007 i m unable to find master pane
The navigation pane is really a step forward for editing long documents. While this is a good news to Word users, this is not a very-good news to me, because I'm developing a Word add-in called 'Writing Outliner' for writers which overcoming the pain of editing long document (such as a book) is one of its major goals ;) However, writers need more features than this navigation pane, so there is still many things Writing Outliner can do to make it an all-in-one writing tool, e.g editing each heading as a standalone document and combine them when need to publish, full text search through multiple documents, showing documents as index cards on a corkboard, a true outliner (as compared to the navigation pane introduced here) for managing the documents in the writing project and managing document properties (tags, status, synopsis, hyperlinks, etc), and so on.
Does anyone know how I can either (a) assign a new keystroke to Navigation Pane so that I can re-assign Ctrl+F to "find," (b) disable the Navigation Pan altogether? If a new keystroke has been assigned in Word 2010 to "find," what is it?