Super Tooltips and Collapsing The Ribbon

While we are talking about the new user interface, I thought I would mention another feature the user interface team has added that I think will prove to be very helpful to a lot of users.  The basic idea is to take tooltips, which are useful little devices, and add some additional capabilities.  Let’s briefly walk through a few examples.

When you hover over a command in the ribbon in Excel 2007, you will see the name of the feature and they keyboard shortcut (if one exists) (note, we have not been completely thorough about this in the past, but we plan to fix that this version).  In addition, you will see a short description of what the feature is for and, when it makes sense, when you might want to use it.  Here are a few examples (sorry, printscreen does not capture my mouse pointer, so you will have to pretend it is there).

Text To Columns

Merge and Centre

The idea is to give the user an idea as to what the feature is without requiring them to look it up in help or on the web.  Help on that feature is also readily available with the press of a button.

Another thing the user interface team has done is added image support to tooltips.  This gives us the ability to use images to help communicate what a feature can be used for.

Trace Precedents

It also gives us the ability to show the user previews of dialogs they could launch as they mouse around the UI.

Format Cells

I can hear several of you asking “can I turn this off”?  The answer is yes, you can turn this off and revert back to tooltips a la Office 2003.

One other thing I wanted to show today was the fact that you can collapse the ribbon simply by clicking twice on a tab (there is also a keyboard shortcut).   This can be useful when you want to maximize your “grid area” either because you don’t need to interact with the application’s commands, or because you are accessing them through the keyboard.

Thin Ribbon