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Hi guys,
I feel like the conversation has shifted to styles vs. direct formatting,
which really isn't the crux of the sidebar problem. (BTW, the Properties
pane of the sidebar is very likely to feature styles in the future.)

Here are the relevant parts of Microsoft's task pane blog post [1] that
point out what problems there are with the UI element:
"The downsides of the Task Panes were many. Number one, given that all the
menus and toolbars still had to be present, it did take up a lot of space,
as you'll see if you reflect back on my now infamous "Mythbusters"
Worse, because it didn't actually replace any of the existing UI metaphors,
it created yet another
users to look under. Now, in addition to short menus, long menus,
hierarchical menus, visible toolbars, and the toolbar list, a user had to
look through the Task Pane stack as well for features. It just added
complexity to the product.

Probably my biggest misgiving about Task Panes is that they encourage bad
interaction design. Every PM wanted to design their feature as a Task Pane
because they could have a brand new, clean rectangle to put their feature
in. This makes their job easier and your experience, as a person using the
software, worse. Every feature would whack away the Task Pane of the
previous feature (because only one could be up at once.) Some of the Task
Panes were quasi-wizards with multiple pages, some of them were really
dialog boxes, some of them were just a menu of two commands with a bunch of
explanatory text around them. No one really thought about the experience of
how to reconcile all of the Task Panes--how to find related functionality
in the old UI system, how to use two features at once, and the fact that
ever single feature required its own huge rectangle. In just two releases,
ending with Office 2003, we already stretched the limit of Task Panes as a
manageable UI paradigm."

2014-02-07 9:33 GMT+01:00 Daniel Hulse <>:

"An abomination."


Using direct formatting as a reason to dislike the sidebar is ridiculous.
The sidebar can be changed, if need be. If anything, having a sidebar fits
using styles much better than a toolbar does. Let me explain: In the
toolbar, you pull styles in a list that gets in the way of the document,
which may end up covering the exact thing you are trying to format. In a
sidebar, this element would cover other controls that you aren't using at
the moment, which is fine.

Don't misunderstand me, I use styles--they are very useful and definitely
the "right" way to do things. But we shouldn't push people into using them
until editing, using, and managing styles is at least as intuitive as
formatting is now.
"> I don't like menus."
I didn't say that. I said the opposite of that.


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