Dipping Into the Well

Yesterday I talked about the command well which exposes all of the features in the Office 2007 programs.

Today, a few tips and tricks for using the new command well.

First, check out this picture of Word's command well to give you some grounding in the details I'm going to be talking about (you can click it to enlarge it to full size.)

Word's Command Well (Click to Enlarge)

Command Modifiers
To the right of many commands are little icons which tell you more about each item and what form it will take when it is added to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Command Modifiers in the Command Well

There are four kinds of command modifiers:

  • Dropdown: Indicates that the control is one which drops a menu, gallery, or other control.
  • Split Button: A control that has a main part to execute an action directly, and a secondary part that acts like a dropdown.
  • Edit Control: Any control you can type into: an edit box, spinner, or combo box.
  • Ribbon Group: This command represents an entire group of Ribbon functionality which you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar as a single icon.

Any command you see without a command modifier is a simple button which executes an action directly.

Command modifiers are useful for differentiating several commands that have the same or similar names but do different things.

For instance, there are three commands named Font: one which represents the Font group on the Home tab, one for the individual command which launches the Font dialog box, and a combo box for typing the name of the font (the normal font picker on the Home tab.)

Tooltip Help
When you hover over a command name, a tooltip appears which contains useful information about the command.

The first part of the tooltip tells you the full path to the location of the command in the user interface, in the form:

Contextual Tab Set | Tab | Group | Command Name

The second part of the tooltip, in parenthesis, indicates the exact name of the command used to refer to the command to reference it programatically, such as in a RibbonX solution.

Modify Macro Buttons
You can add macros you create or record to the Quick Access Toolbar to give you one-click access to them.

In order to help you tell them apart, you can click the Modify button in the command well to launch the Modify Button dialog box in order to choose a custom icon and name for the button which runs your macro.

We've increased the number of icons significantly from earlier builds of Office 2007 so that there are many more to choose from (and, hopefully, a more useful selection.)

RibbonX-based solutions can, as always, repurpose any icon in Office.

Other Features
A few people mentioned yesterday in comments ideas for additional command well features, such as search capabilities. Good ideas, indeed.

We did consider adding even more features to the command well (including search functionality), but ultimately we decided to spend more resources on the core UI.

As much as I wish it wasn't the case, our team has finite development resources, so prioritizing where to spend our time is a constant challenge.

The command well serves an important, but secondary purpose--in fact, we hope that most people will never see it or use it. For that reason, it made sense to spend more of our resources making other parts of the UI model more robust vs. adding additional features to the command well for 2007.

Undoubtably we'll look at opportunities to continue building on this area in future versions.