Microsoft Ribbon for WPF RTW!

Yesterday, we announced the July release of the Microsoft Ribbon for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). You can download the installer for this release here.

WPF ribbon sample application, RibbonWindowWord

This is great news for Windows developers looking to build rich, fluent user experiences. From the MSDN documentation:

The ribbon is a command bar that organizes the features of an application into a series of tabs at the top of the application window. The ribbon user interface (UI) increases discoverability of features and functions, enables quicker learning of the application, and makes users feel more in control of their experience with the application. The ribbon replaces the traditional menu bar and toolbars.

In short, this control library gives you the ability to incorporate a ribbon user experience in your applications today.

A Quick Background About the Ribbon User Experience

The ribbon was first introduced in Microsoft Office 2007 as a replacement to its traditional menu-driven design. At that time, customers were telling us that it was becoming difficult to navigate through the expanding features and commands that had been added over the years. This resulted in a non-optimal user experience as users had trouble finding what they were looking for. Even worse, the “cacophony” of options made it difficult for users to discover new functionality. Today, the ribbon has provided users of applications like Microsoft Word 2010 with a contextual and task-oriented user experience, allowing them to focus more on their work and less on the application itself (AKA, a big-time win for user productivity).

Microsoft Ribbon for WPF

For Windows developers, the ribbon provides a rich experience that you can incorporate quickly and easily for your WPF applications. What’s particularly cool about the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF is that it’s a control library that’s built 100% in pure WPF goodness.

File → New Project...

After downloading and installing the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF, you’ll find the WPF Ribbon Application project template listed for both Visual C# and Visual Basic:

New project templates for WPF Ribbon Application for both Visual C# and Visual Basic

This project template provides you with a very simple example to help get you started:

MainWindow example showing the Ribbon, RibbonTab, RibbonGroup and RibbonButton controls

For a deeper examination of the XAML and control library that’s used to build this application, I strongly recommend that you read Pete Brown’s excellent summary of this release in a post entitled,Announcing: Microsoft Ribbon for WPF RTW. Pete also provides an important point (with emphasis added):

The new ribbon control is compatible with WPF 3.5sp1 and WPF 4. This is a 100% WPF implementation, not a wrapper around native code. That means you get all the great WPF styling capabilities for the new control.

This fact cannot be underscored enough. A true WPF implementation means that you can incorporate styling and rely on assumed WPF functionality (i.e. RibbonButton support the ICommand interface – wahoo!). Having built my fair share of WPF applications in the past – in some cases, wrestling with control interop and styling issues – I love this news.

So, what are you waiting for? Download Microsoft Ribbon for WPF today and start incorporating it into your applications!

Related Links

PS: If you building applications with Windows Forms, check out Windows Ribbon for WinForms project on CodePlex.

UPDATE: The WPF team has posted a great overview of the Microsoft Ribbon for WPF here along with a series of blog posts hereherehereherehere, and here.