Access 2007 Beta 2 Misconception #2 - Ribbons morph completely depending on context

Another misconception that I read is regarding the new Ribbon interface: some people apparently are expecting the tabs on the ribbon to change completly as the context changes.

This is very untrue: each of the tabs in the ribbon are pretty much fixed (I'm sure that there is the odd exception somewhere, but this is by-and-large true). Whatever menus, drop downs or buttons you see on it will not appear/disappear as you use the app.

What will happen is:

(1) Buttons/drop downs/menus will be enabled/disabled based on context (for example, the font size dropdown when you select an image control in form design in Access). Nothing new here, this already happened somewhat with traditional command bars.

(2) Contextual tabs will appear/disappear depending on context. What this means is that an entire tab will appear in some context (e.g. Form Design tab when in form design) or disappear. However, all other tabs will remain as they are - no controls will be hidden or shown.

An additional source of confusion is between the Ribbons and the mini-bars (aka floaties). Mini-bars are On-Object UI (OOUI) that appear near the mouse cursor when you hover over some special items in the app - such as attachment or rich text memo fields. Mini-Bars are completly independent of the Ribbon and are not dynamic as well - controls will not appear/disappear on it. Additionally, controls in the mini-bar generally are duplicated in the Ribbon: this is meant as a quick access OOUI.

In sum, do not confuse the Ribbon with the Windows 2000-style menus that will show/hide items "smartly". The ribbon is pretty much static at the chunk and control level, with contextual tabs being shown/hidden depending on context, but never the "main" tabs (such as the Home tab).