Monthly Poll 201709_10

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Should TM1 Tools have a ribbon?

Don't care because I'm on Excel 2003 or earlier.
No votes
Yes; I'm on 2007
No votes
No; I'm on 2007
Yes; I'm on 2010
No; I'm on 2010
No votes
Yes; I'm on 2013 or higher
No; I'm on 2013 or higher
Total votes: 21

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Alan Kirk
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Monthly Poll 201709_10

Post by Alan Kirk » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:30 pm

We haven't had a poll for a while so I thought I'd indulge myself to answer a question that I've been flip-flopping on.

A new version of the TM1Tools add-in is in the pipeline. Maybe not as fast as many would like, but I'm not getting paid for this, so... It will include 64 bit support plus a few new features. The latter point is the more important one (for the purposes of this poll) since it means that there will be about 15 to 20 commands, up from the current dozen plus the options button.

The question is whether to leave the interface as it is so that it just shows up as legacy buttons on the AddIns tab, or whether it's time to create a ribbon tab for it. The process for the latter is slightly uglier than the current legacy process, where the menus can be coded entirely within VBA. For practical purposes you can't do that with a ribbon. (Well, you can, but the complexity doesn't bear thinking about so it's easier to just create the XML code separately.) So the question is, would you like to see TM1 Tools with a ribbon or not? The way I've phrased the question also serves as poll on the versions of Excel in use for the sake of curiosity. (There is a slight difference in the way you have to do it for the abomination which was 2007 vs later versions, so I particularly want to see how many are stuck with that steaming pile of organic by-product.)

One of the main reasons I've been reluctant to is because of the problems that exist with the TM1 ribbon. Trust me when I tell you that you do NOT want to try stepping through code in debug mode while that thing is active, and of course most of us have probably experienced the "buttons with no name" phenomenon. (Though I suspect that that has something to do with the TM1 ribbon being dynamic and redrawing itself according to context; I would have no intention of doing that.)

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Re: Monthly Poll 201709_10

Post by paulsimon » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:45 am

Hi Alan

I have a similar set of TM1 Utilities. These work via old style menus from the Add Ins Menu. I did look at creating a ribbon but as you say Microsoft have made it far harder than it should be, and also far harder to package up.

At the site where I work we have 5 developers and we have actually taken a joint decision to disable the TM1 Ribbon, and access both TM1 and the utilities via the Add Ins Menu. This is because of continual frustration with the TM1 Ribbon malfunctioning. I am sure we have all seen it happen where the big icons become small icons with no text and you have to hit enter 30 times to acknowledge all the messages that come up while your TM1 Ribbon shrinks down to nothing usable, and the only way back is to restart Excel and then re-open all your sheets and reconnect back to TM1, and losing all the views etc that you had opened.

Maybe the next challenge will be to get a set of utilities that work with PAFE?


Paul Simon

Wim Gielis
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Re: Monthly Poll 201709_10

Post by Wim Gielis » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:41 pm

Well, for me the reverse in fact, although I hate it when the icons shrink and all misery you wrote about, Paul.

If I were the one who decides, I would not make a ribbon for Excel 2007. That's 10 years old now and a bad Excel version.

Related thoughts:

I have my own ribbon for (mainly) Excel tools but it includes TM1 stuff as well.
No Office 64 bits support, it's for personal use mainly and my coworkers. So the addin is not tested to a great extent ;-)
If a run-time error comes up when I am at the customer, I make a note and correct it later on.
I just keep on working and do my tasks manually where otherwise I would have used my addin.

What I find interesting in my addin is a couple of things, it might help someone else give ideas too:
- the space (screen real estate) in the ribbon is 'limited', so therefore I create menu's in my menu. Like the TM1 menu shown in the picture. But more than that, a number of options allow the use of Shift and/or Ctrl click when clicking the option. That way, the functionality changes.
Have a look at the option of Autofit in the lower left corner. If you click on it, the columns in the selection will be autofitted.
If you Shift-click on it, you go to the dialog where you can enter the column width yourself (no autofit in that case).
If you Ctrl-click on it, you can autofit the row heights of the rows in the selection.
This way, we can avoid userforms / Inputboxes / MsgBoxes / ... since time is money :-)
- a number of the options are a complete rewrite/makeover of an existing Excel dialog. Like QuickPaste is in fact Copy > Paste Special but the choices are not mutually exclusive ;-) I can for instance copy/paste the formulas, column widths and bold/italic/underlined in 1 screen.
- "Files" has options to close and save the active file (at once), or save to the desktop, get the full path and file name (for copy/paste elsewhere), "close and delete the active file", close all but the active file, and so on.

To sum up, I like the ribbon and I would not want to go back to the old addins menu. I appreciate XML must be generated and 'nice' icons must be provided to make the tool look good, but it's definitely much better than what we had in Excel 2003. I would never want to go back to that version, it looks very ugly. With callbacks the ribbon is much more flexible than what we had to work with in the past.
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Best regards,

Wim Gielis

Excel Most Valuable Professional, 2011-2014 ==> 105 TM1 articles and a lot of custom code
Newest blog article: Looping over input files

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