There’s no getting around it. The user interface and ribbon introduced as part of the MapInfo Pro 64-bit release can take some getting used to.
If you’re a seasoned user of MapInfo, you would have built habits around working efficiently with the 32-bit toolbar and menu interface of the classic MapInfo and you can’t change those habits overnight.
However, we want to share with you some tips for getting the ribbon working for you, because when combined with the other user interface improvements in the 64-bit MapInfo it does provide a much improved user experience.
So here are our top tips for getting the ribbon working for you.
The beauty of the 64-bit ribbon interface is that it can be customised to fit your processes in a way that was not readily achievable in the classic MapInfo. Where the classic MapInfo had toolbars and menus which could not be modified easily, the ribbon interface allows anyone to change or build new ribbon tabs, add groups to the tabs and even rename the existing ribbon tabs or groups.
The trick to deciding what to change or build is to think about the existing workflows that you have built up overtime while using the classic MapInfo.
For example, a common workflow for me would be to open a dataset and view the contents in a map view and then open the corresponding tabular or browser view of the dataset to understand the attributes associated with what I was viewing on the map.
When I opened a file in the map view in the 64-bit MapInfo the “Map” ribbon tab would become active as this is the type of window that was currently active. However, in the default “Map” ribbon there is no “new browser” tool and I would need to switch to the table ribbon tab to access that tool.
To remove the need to switch ribbon tabs I simply added a “new browser” tab group and tool to the Map ribbon tab by customising the ribbon.
The Map Ribbon Tab customised to include the New Browser tool.
Of course this is only one example but once you understand that the default ribbon is just a starting point then you’ll quickly get it customised to the way that works best for you.
Work the Quick Action Toolbar
While the ribbon is context sensitive and will change depending on what window and layer you are using at the time, the Quick Access toolbar (QAT) is always visible at the very top of the application and it provides quick access to the commands that you use most often.
The best tools to include in the QAT are those that you would use to not matter which ribbon tab was currently active such as Close All, Save Table and Open Workspace tools.
The QAT. Always visible and useful for those tools used most often.
Become a keyboard power-user
The Command Editor tool allows you to customise existing keyboard shortcuts and create new ones. This is a great tool for those Power Users out there who have memories like elephants and who prefer their keyboards to their mice.
Once you have installed the maintenance release the Command Editor tool is available from the Tool Manager on the Home tab.
The new Command Editor Tool. Perfect for keyboard power-users.
Don’t forget the mini-toolbar
One of the great additions to the 64-bit MapInfo is the mini-toolbar in the map window. This is a quick way to access some of the most commonly used functionality that used to only be available from the toolbars.
Check out our previous blog post on the many benefits of the mini-toolbar.
Make it stop
The default setting for the ribbon is that it will automatically switch to the appropriate ribbon tab when a document window is activated. Open or activate a map, bowser or layout window and the ribbon will change to the associated Map, Table and Layout ribbon tab.
If for some reason this mode of switching ribbon tabs is not working for you, the ribbon tab switching can be set to two different modes – Last Tab and None – via the Application system options preference in the backstage area. Our advice would be to try this only if you really need to as the ribbon and other user interface functions have been optimised to work in automatic switching mode.
Take control – make it yours
The key takeaway here is that rather than accept the user interface as is, take a moment to think about your workflows and processes and then change MapInfo Pro 64-bit to fit and work for you.
Sure, the ribbon is different but when you understand that you have the control to change it and combine this with the other improvements to the user interface you will really start getting productive.
If you want to try the latest version (16) of 64-bit MapInfo Pro, download the trial version below.