In Defense of the Ribbon

In Defense of the RIBBON

In the past year, I have made the switch to AutoCAD’s ribbon interface. I would show up to class and changed my workspace to the classic interface with the lovely toolbars. I would look at my fellow students and see them using the ribbon and wonder how they were able to function. Until I heard that there were rumors that Autodesk would eventually get rid of the “Classic” workspace and I thought to myself, ‘Autodesk isn’t doing this to make things harder, they do these things to make drafting easier, (and to copy whatever Microsoft does…) so I should at least try it.’

After about 3 days I was moving around the ribbon fairly easily and really enjoying it. I even found that people’s arguments against the ribbon were unfounded.

What I found is that the beloved toolbars in classic are indeed the panels in the ribbon. And these panels are logically organized by a tab. These panels in the ribbon even have more options than the toolbars have. These panels even have display options that the toolbars don’t even have. If you don’t know what a button is in the toolbar, you have to hover over the button to see that name of it. However, in the ribbon, you can have it just show the buttons (like the toolbar) or show the buttons and text. Try that with the classic toolbars…

Draw Toolbar & Panel compared:
above. Draw Toolbar has 20 buttons.

Draw Panel has 36 buttons. 16 of which are not available in the toolbar.

Notice that the draw panel is on the “Home tab” or “Home Ribbon” You may hear people use “tab” and “ribbon” interchangeably. The draw panel is the section on the ribbon dedicated to drawing tools/buttons. Whenever you see an arrow next to the name of a panel it means that there are more tools available. Simply click anywhere on the lower portion where the name of the panel and arrow reside and the panel will expand.

Notice that the buttons look the same as they do in the toolbar. But the buttons found in the panel have more options.

If you click on these arrows, more options will appear.











Some of these options are available in the classic setup but only if you see the options in the command line when starting the command or you know how to call the function in the middle of the command. There is 1 circle command that I know of that does not work in the classic setup at all (unless you use a lisp routine). And that is the circle with the “TTT” or “tangent, tangent, tangent” option. It will work with the Ribbon but not with Classic.

With these dropdown buttons, the last option that you use will be seen next to the dropdown arrow when the list collapses or when you are down with the command.

If you like creating your own toolbars, you will love crea

ting your own panels and ribbons/tabs. You can create custom panels and ribbons in the CUI. You can show the buttons at different sizes and even have text appear next to the button so that you don’t have to hover over the button to find out what it is.

In this Blog post, I am not going to show how to create a new ribbon or panel (I will save that for its own post) but I will show you how to alter buttons in the panel to have a text label show next to the button.

Type CUI in the command line. Or click the “Manage” tab and in the “customization” panel, click the User Interface button. As seen below


This will bring up the “Customize User Interface” dialog box as seen below.
To show text next to buttons, follow these 3 steps
I changed the Spline and hatch buttons to show text next to the button, because I tend to forget what buttons they are.

While in the CUI:
Follow these 3 steps

In area 1

Click navigate to the draw panel by following the picture below







In area 2 (preview panel)

Click on the button as it appears in the panel.
This will open the properties for that button in area 3

In area 3

Click the “Button style” dropdown list and choose an option. The option I chose was “Small with text”
Click “Apply” & “OK”

Now your buttons will show text and you don’t have to guess or hover over the buttons.

Overall, I think that the ribbon is a great feature. Even though I like to use the command line and use aliases a lot. The ribbon helps from looking down at the keyboard and the panels which ARE the toolbars are logically arranged and fairly easy to find. After all, if you’re using toolbars and you want to use the “Data Extraction” button it isn’t very logical or intuitive to find. You have to know that the button is in the “Modify 2” toolbar whereas in the “Insert” tab/ribbon, it is in the “Linking & Extraction” panel.

These ribbon is used is AutoCAD Architecture and in Revit, both of which have no option for a “classic” setup that has toolbars. So if you are planning on using any of these programs, you will be forced to use a ribbon. Since Microsoft Office switched to ribbons with Office 2007, and both Revit & AutoCAD Architecture use the ribbon, and AutoCAD’s default is now the ribbon, just try it for a week with an open mind. You will find it to be intuitive and provide more options.




About AutoCAD Tips

This blog serves as a knowledge base for myself (and anyone else) so that I can reference tips & tricks that I have learned and also refer others to it as well. I hope that this blog helps you learn at least one tip to make your drafting/design experience better.
This entry was posted in BASICS, Customization, Settling In, TIPS. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to In Defense of the Ribbon

  1. Oscar says:

    If you want to use toolbars in any Autocad based program (no Revit) you can recovery them introducing that in the command line:

    _.-TOOLBAR ACAD.Standard _Top 0,0

    Also there are many tools to turn your office in a classic interface.

    For me, the best way to increase productivity is to learn all those commands you use more and modify toolbars to show only them that you need (exclusively!!) and can’t learn, you can do that also with the ribbon. Isn´t good to work all day looking for a command in a toolbar or palette.

    For those who stay all day working with autocad (or similar) there are some special (sometimes called “gaming”) keyboards and mouse that you can use modifying it to your preferences.

    (sorry for bad English, not my mother language)

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