Thursday, October 21, 2010

Office for Mac Isn't an Improvement -

The Mac suite now includes the Ribbon, a horizontal toolbar that’s built into Office for Windows. What I don’t get is this: Last time I checked, computer screens were all wider than they are tall. The last thing you’d want to do is to eat up that limited *vertical* screen space with interface clutter like the Ribbon. Don’t we really want those controls off to the *side,* like as with the Formatting Palette in the previous Mac Office?

You can collapse the Ribbon, sure—but what a pain to have to keep doing that! When collapsed, you still see the names of the tabs (one each for Layout, Tables, Review and so on) — but, maddeningly, you can’t click a tab to open it. You have to manually open the ribbon and *then* click the tab you want.

In Word, I do all my writing in Draft view — a scrolling, endless page. (Why bother with having to scroll past big empty white margins and phony page breaks when you’re editing on the screen?) But in Word 2011, the spacing of characters in Draft view is so broken, it’s almost unbearable to use. Letters literally crash into each other; it’s very ugly.

Macros are back, which is great. Finally, I thought, I can automate the series of search-and-replace operations that are necessary to prepare my weekly column for use in plain-text e-mail (turning curly quotes into straight ones, for example).

But the new Find/Replace panel in Word is broken, too. You can’t tab from the Find box to the Replace box — you have to click the mouse in each box. And even then, the Macro recorder simply doesn’t record search/replace operations.