Redesigning the Office 2010 Ribbon

Commands on this new File menu have also been reordered to make more sense to users, so that “Save”, for example, becomes the first command rather than “Info”, and the highlighting of which command is selected is better connected to the information panel on the right of the command. You can also drag a number of the Most Recently Used (MRU) list files directly onto the File menu for easy access.

Redesigning the Office 2010 Ribbon

Excel 2010 improvements

Excel 2007 brought with it a whole new graphics engine that had brighter colours, better effects and greater flexibility than any previous version, but unfortunately, the new-style charts were significantly slower to render.

When you have large numbers of points to plot, Excel 2007 can be five or ten times slower than Excel 2003. Microsoft has now put significant effort into improving the rendering speed of data points and text on charts, so that Excel 2010 charts not only draw at about the same speed as in Excel 2003, but workbooks containing charts also load 15-40% faster and save 30-70% faster than in Excel 2007.

Many unnecessary re-rendering operations have been eliminated when working with charts, which gives a much smoother experience when scrolling through a document or selecting elements in a chart.

Conditional formatting Data Bars, Colour Fills and IconSets were some of the better new features in Excel 2007, but being so easy to use they were also too easy to misuse or misconfigure and could become misleading.

Indeed, some of the default settings for Data Bars give distinctly misleading impressions. Data Bars are coloured bars displayed in the background of a cell that are proportional in length to the number contained in that cell. By default the minimum bar length was 10% of the width of the cell and appeared behind the lowest value in the range, while the maximum size was 90% of the cell width and appeared behind the highest value.

Many unnecessary re-rendering operations have been eliminated when working with charts, which gives a much smoother experience

This was meant to highlight the differences between values in the range, but it also made it impossible to judge how big a value was just by looking at the bar length.

Excel 2010 changes these default settings so that the minimum value is now zero, or the lowest negative value in the range, and occupies 0% of the width while the maximum value occupies the whole cell width – the bars are now proportional to the values, rather than the difference between the values, which is probably more useful in most circumstances.

You can still change the formatting of the bars to replicate the previous default functionality in cases where it’s appropriate. Another default setting made the bar a graduated fill, fading to white at the right-hand end, which made it difficult to judge which of two roughly similar values was smaller and which larger.

Excel 2010 lets you choose a solid fill, or put a border on the data bar to make its right-hand end more obvious. You can also have data bars that show a mix of positive and negative values in different colours, extending outwards from a central zero, which is far more useful than the way Excel 2007 showed the same data.

Icon Sets put coloured flags, arrows, blocks and similar images into cells depending on the values in the range, but Excel 2007 only had a limited number of such icon sets available. Excel 2010 lets you mix-and-match icons from different sets, or even just choose one or two icons for specific conditions. The improved user interface for Icon Set conditional formatting makes it far easier to pick and edit the formatting options.

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