The introduction of ‘ribbon’ has been the most obvious change in Microsoft Office.
While there are benefits with the new format, mainly in giving better access to the less used functions of Word, the new environment can be a little overwhelming. Many of the options are more accessible but often at the expense of the straightforward functionality – for example the ‘Save as’ command is ‘hidden’ behind the Microsoft Office button (top left of ribbon).
Our response to this has been to create a client tab which incorporates all their frequently used commands as well as the buttons to work with the templates we have developed.
All the VBA code used to create templates in previous versions of Word (2000, XP and 2003) can be used in Word 2007 / Word 2010 templates. The only thing that needs to be replaced is the toolbar with its equivalent in the ribbon.
However this is now more complex and demanding. Up to Office 2003 the toolbar could be created with a drag and drop facility built within Word. Customisation of the ribbon in 2007 2010 is far more complex and involves using XML and understanding the underlying schema. Although Word 2010 contains a ribbon editor this cannot be used to modify the ribbon in a Word template.
We typically develop a client tab in the ribbon (see below). It brings together all the client’s specific functions and commands, together with their preferred set of standard commands such as Save and Print. That way they have all their important commands available in one tab, rather than spread around a number of different areas.
All our previously created Word templates will work in Word 2007 / Word 2010. Due to the new ribbon the customised toolbars are no longer automatically displayed when a new document is created or opened.
Opening a 2003 template in Word 2007 / 2010 will not immediately display the toolbar that would normally be opened.
However the customised toolbars for the templates are now available via the Add-Ins tab in the 2007 / 2010 ribbon. Although this is perfectly usable it is fairly tedious.
This is how the toolbar would look in the 2007 / 2010 ribbon Add-Ins tab.
The development of the macros / code behind the templates can be done in either VBA or Microsoft’s Visual Studio, VSTO. To date we have generally continued to use VBA to develop templates in Office 2007 / 2010. This is because the clients with earlier versions of our templates found them robust and easy to maintain and support. It made no sense them to incur the additional cost of rewriting the existing code as well as creating the new tab in the ribbon.
There is a very good 600 page book which we would recommend reviewing if you want to get further into the development of Office 2007. It explains everything you need to know about customising the Office 2007 ribbon:
RibbonX Customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon
Author: Robert Martin, Ken Puls, Teresa Hennig.
NB – to date all ribbon customisations created in Word 2007 have been fully functional in Word 2010.