EiffelRibbon Design Tool

  1. Overview
  2. Usage
    1. Size definitions and scaling policies
      1. Size definitions
      2. Scaling policy


The EiffelRibbon design tool allows you to design a ribbon graphically, then generate the ribbon markup file and the Eiffel classes necessary to implement your design.

EiffelRibbon design tool

Figure 1: An EiffelRibbon project open in the EiffelRibbon design tool.

The interface of the design tool mimics that of EiffelBuild. That is, the interface contains three panes that have counterparts in EiffelBuild:

  1. Type selector: A list of all the elements available for use in a ribbon.
  2. Layout constructor: A structured view of the organization of the elements used in a particular ribbon design.
  3. Object editor: The properties of the ribbon element which is currently selected in the Layout constructor.

So, if you've used EiffelBuild, the EiffelRibbon design tool should seem quite familiar to you.


The typical usage of the design tool is much like the typical usage of EiffelBuild.

  • Create a new project ( File -> New Project... ) and choose a location for your EiffelRibbon project.
  • Configure the ribbon by adding elements, name the elements, and choose icons for buttons.
  • Save the project.
  • Generate the code.
  • Use EiffelStudio to compile the generated code.

Size definitions and scaling policies

An important aspect of Microsoft's ribbon technology is called adaptive layout. When the ribbon is resized by a user at runtime, the adaptive layout makes corresponding changes to the size, format, organization and scale of the ribbon controls within each group based on size definition templates and scaling policies associated with the group. Size definitions are patterns for the use of a certain number of ribbon controls such as buttons. For a particular group of controls in an instance of ribbon, you can associate a size definition which will control the layout of the controls. At runtime, when the window hosting the ribbon is resized, a scaling policy, also associated with the group, will control how the controls in the group are reorganized in response to the resizing. When a group is selected in the EiffelRibbon tool, the group's size definition and scaling policy can be selected.

Note: Not all size definitions support all scaling policy choices. So it is important to know which scaling policies are supported by a size definition that you wish to associate with a group before you set the scaling policy for the group.

Size definitions

The ribbon framework provides a significant number of size definition templates (simply called size definitions), as shown in Figure 2 below. Size definitions are usually assigned names based on the number and type of controls included in the group. For example, the size definition "ThreeButtonsAndOneCheckBox" is a size definition for three buttons plus one checkbox.

Figure 2. Choosing a size definition for a ribbon control group.

In addition to using the size definitions provided, it is possible to create your own custom size definitions. You do this with the Size Definition Editor. At the lower left of Figure 1 above you can see the tab representing the Size Definition Editor. When you expand the tab, the editor becomes visible, as in Figure 3, below.

Size Definition Editor

Figure 3. EiffelRibbon tool with the Size Definition Editor pinned open.

Use the Size Definition Editor to create custom size definitions for your ribbon designs. The Add button button will add a new button placeholder to a custom size definition. A selected button placeholder can be altered to show or hide its label and use its small or large size.

Button placeholders

Figure 4. Three button placeholders in a custom size definition (highlighted in red rectangle); one is large, and two are small. The text is visible in all cases. (This is the arrangement used for the "medium" configuration (highlighted in green rectangle) for the ThreeButtonCustom size definition used in the scaling policy figures in the next section. Screenshots of specifying arrangements used for "large" "small" configurations for ThreeButtonCustom are not shown.)

Once a custom size definition has been designed, it can be named, saved, and used in a ribbon design.

Name field and Save button

Figure 5. The Size Definition Editor naming field and Save button.

When you generate code which uses a custom size definition, the EiffelRibbon Design Tool generates the (XML) representation for your size definition and then invoke the Microsoft Ribbon Framework's User Interface Command Compiler (UICC.exe) to validate the generated size definition code. This process can result in certain types of errors.

User Interface Command Compiler errors will appear in the Output pane of the EiffelRibbon Design Tool.

Scaling policy

The notion of adaptive layout includes the ability to specify preferred sizes for elements of a group and a scaling policy that can influence how the group reacts to resizing. More detail on size definition and scaling policy is available in Microsoft's ribbon documentation.

The EiffelRibbon tool allows you to specify ideal sizes and scale policy for a groups elements through the Ideal sizes radio buttons and the Scale checkboxes, as shown in Figure 6 below.

Scaling policy elements: "Ideal sizes" and "Scale"

Figure 6. A group definition showing it's size definition and the scaling policy elements "Ideal sizes" and "Scale".

In Figure 6, none of the Scale checkboxes is checked. This means that no scaling policy is in effect for the group group_context_popups. So in a running application, a window with this ribbon might be rendered as shown in Figure 7:

Figure 7. A ribbon with no scaling policy, but with enough room to display all groups.

If the user resized the window to a narrower form, the buttons in the group_context_popups group would become occluded because scaling is not in effect. This is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. After resizing, some buttons of the group are no longer visible.

If all of the Scale checkboxes that are supported by the size definition are checked in the EiffelRibbon tool for the group group_context_popups as shown in Figure 9, then scaling is enabled.

Scale checkboxes enable scaling policy.

Figure 9. All supported scales are enabled for group_context_popups.

In the running application again, the initial rendering looks the same as in Figure 7 (its Large configuration). But if the window is resized to a narrower form with scaling policy enabled, it will go through the various configurations supported by the size definition: Medium, Small, then Popup. The different configurations for this particular ribbon and size definition are shown in Figures 10 through 12.

Medium configuration

Figure 10. Scaling policy at medium configuration (see Figure 4 above).

Small configuration

Figure 11. Scaling policy at small configuration.

Popup configuration

Figure 12. Scaling policy at popup configuration.