MolView currently uses a classic style, single level dropdown menu to provide access to all tools (except for the sketcher tools) There are two important drawbacks to this menu style:
- Not very scalable: although it is possible to extend the menu bar with some conditional menu’s (menu’s which are only visible in certain situations) I don’t think the current menu offers much extra space. Of course you can add more toolbars but I always find stacked toolbars quite annoying.
- Less useful on touch devices: in my experience the current MolView menu is usable but not very practical on touch devices.
I believe a ribbon might be the solution. A ribbon is basically a number of tabs containing various tools including buttons, dropdown menu’s, number entries and even so called galleries (Argh! A Microsoft invention). Ribbons would fit perfectly in the add-on oriented architecture of MolView 3 since they are very scalable. All you have to do to get an empty panel for tools is adding a new tab! I guess it will also be useful on touch devices since it does not disappear each time you click an item like a classic menu does.
To get an idea of what a ribbon would look like, I created a simple mockup (shown below) The mockup contains three main tool buttons and three tabs. Since the ribbon offers a lot of space the toolbars around the sketcher would no longer be required leaving more space for the actual sketcher!