You Say CustomUI Editor, I Say TextPad

 

I have written before about hand-crafting XML so as to
customise an Office 2007 ribbon at XML
Is Such A Pain
and Autogen’ed
Ribbon Code

 

As I have mentioned before, the CustomUI editor is far from
perfect. It does allow adding of  image
files and to validate the XML, but the editing experience is absolutely awful.

 

My favourite editor is TextPad,
and one of the useful features of TextPad is the facility to incorporate syntax
files that are file type dependent, for instance a Visual Basic syntax file for
.bas and .vbs file types. The syntax files can highlight elements of your files
which assist in  entering script as well
as making the script more readable.

 

Although I rarely use the CustomUI editor when I am developing
Excel ribbons these days as I autogen everything, my autogen doesn’t yet handle
Word or Access ribbons. As I still don’t want to use the CustomUI editor, I
built myself a CustomUI syntax file for use with TextPad. I can now edit my XML
in TextPad, and copy and paste into the CustomUI editor when it is ready. I
find this much more productive.

 

It is still necessary to setup TextPad with a document class
for these files, setup the keyword colours and so on, but if you think it could
be useful, you can get it a copy via the RSS feed, or download it here.

13 thoughts on “You Say CustomUI Editor, I Say TextPad

  1. I use Excel to Edit XML…
    You can copy paste it in to the Custom UI editor directly…. and it works well

    However there are 3 compelling features in the Custom UI editor

    a) The Validate Button
    b) Insert -Icons
    c) generate call backs

  2. @Sam,

    Agree on the first two, but generate callbacks is hardly a big deal, once you knoe them they are trivial.

    @Daniel,

    It only generates Excel ribbons, but it can be part of the solution. I just prefer an editor to a GUI.

  3. >>prefer an editor to a GUI.
    I just lost all respect for you Bob 😉

    I guess the real thing I’m taking away from this post is just how much effort it is to work with the ribbon. Did they expose it to VBA yet?
    I’ve not really done any work with 2007, so I’ve not had to get messy with this stuff yet, but I guess it’s coming. Can you take the code from a VSTO project and dump it for use with a VBA one?
    Good post agian Bob, keep it up!

  4. >>prefer an editor to a GUI.
    I just lost all respect for you Bob 😉

    I guess the real thing I’m taking away from this post is just how much effort it is to work with the ribbon. Did they expose it to VBA yet?
    I’ve not really done any work with 2007, so I’ve not had to get messy with this stuff yet, but I guess it’s coming. Can you take the code from a VSTO project and dump it for use with a VBA one?
    Good post agian Bob, keep it up!

  5. Ross,

    They certainly haven’t made it easy, but it is not too hard. It’s just thyat editor is not the finished article, and so we need some dedicated sould to produce a real tool.

    You have always been able to manipulate the ribbon with  VBA, and you can ad to dynamic menus from VBA, but you cannot create your own a ribbon directly from VBA. It can be done, I do it in my Ribbon Autogen and Andy Pope does it in his Ribbon Designer, but it has to be done on a closed workbook as it means cracking open the zip file.

    In Excel the ribbon is easy for me because of my Autogen, I just haven’t ramped it up to Word yet (and probably never will).

  6. Bob,

    Among the 3(Excel,Word and Access) the Access Ribbon is the most painful.

    Have you found a way to create a Custom Tab in Access which is there for you irrespective of the database you open…

    In Excel this is straight forward… Just make the File in to an XLA and load it……In Access there seems to be no easy solution…

  7. Bob et al,

    It’s good to see that You promote a tool like TextPad for working with XML files.

    In my case I try to use .NET for it but when I have no access to it I use NotePad++. Actually, we can use tools like this one for regular VBA/VB/VB.NET coding as well.

    If MSFT want native Office developers to leverage the Ribbon UI then it’s very remarkable that they provide such a poor tool as Custom UI. Personally I’m ******
    ** with how MSFT handle native developers.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  8. I couldn’t agree more Dennis. I am sure that it because MS only see .Net developers as ‘real’ developers, so don’t worry about the rest.

    When I just want to cut a fair amount of code bottom-up, I must admit I use TextPad for that too, it just gets easier to amend code in the VBIDE.

  9. I still have to marvel at how easy it is to modify the Excel 2003 & prior toolbar UI and wonder why it’s a practical impossibility to have the same functionality in later versions. It’s not like MSFT lacks (or should lack) the programming talent to store UI object properties in XML rather than binary portions of .XLB files.

    It just seems so much more likely that MSFT JUST DOESN’T WANT MERE USERS MODIFYING THEIR PRECIOUS RIBBON UI. Once one allows for that possibility, the lack of reasonable tools provided by MSFT make perfect sense.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for MSFT to ‘fix’ this. From their perspective nothing’s broken or missing.

  10. FWIW, I’ve been using TextPad for years. I used to use MultiEdit, but I spent as much time customizing it as doing real work with it. Nonprogrammable but reasonably featured editors are the best!

  11. @Harlan,
    “MSFT JUST DOESN’T WANT MERE USERS MODIFYING THEIR PRECIOUS RIBBON UI”

    But they do…in 2010 you can do resonable amount of customisation pretty quickly…by right click customise..

    In 2007 they wanted to include customization capabilities to the Ribbon but the marketing folks were in a hurry to get the product out…

    Just create a list of all commadbars in 2007 and one of the commadbars is called as a “Ribbon Adapter”….

    Was probably ment to customise the ribbon but got squashed…

  12. Office 2007 and Windows Vista were both botched jobs, obviously rushed to market, and thereby confirming the wisdom of ALWAYS waiting for SP1 before upgrading any MSFT software product.

    I haven’t seen Office 2010 because I refuse to get a Passport ID, which seems to be required to be able to download the public beta. I’ve seen some write-ups of ribbon customization in Office 2010, which is nice, but the UI still @#$%&.

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