Today I found a brilliant tool for learning the new ribbon interface by sheer chance. I was visiting the official Office site and noticed an ad for a social game that would help you master the ribbon; Ribbon Hero.
What is it?
In Microsoft Office Labs own words;
Ribbon Hero is a game for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel 2007 and 2010, designed to help you boost your Office skills and knowledge. Play games (aka “challenges”), score points, and compete with your friends while improving your productivity with Office. As a concept test, this add-in is not supported, but is an opportunity for you to try out an idea we are working on and let us know what you think. For additional challenges and the opportunity to earn more points, download Office 2010 Beta.
Microsoft Office Labs have made some videos on the product that can be found on their product page. I recommend giving them a look. (Tried to embed one of them here – no success…)
How does it work?
I downloaded the game, which is an add-in (COM) for Word, PowerPoint and Excel (2007 and 2010) and installed it. Using it adds some time to opening each application but not too much. After installing it there is an added button in the top right corner of the Home tab in the Ribbon of all three applications.
You can connect the game with Facebook and thus compete with your friends and co-workers that also have installed the game.
In use you will see that as you utilize different ribbon tools in your writing and editing your points in the Ribbon Hero button accumulate. You will get more points for more difficult tasks than you would for lets say changing selected text into bold. All fine and dandy, but the tool really gets interesting when you click on the Ribbon Hero button and enter the so-called challenge mode. In Word you are greeted by this screen;
Here you can see your Word achievements, and where you have gotten them, as well as play new challenges in order to get more points. This part of the game is also the most interesting to me as it is here that you can actually learn new things. So lets go ahead and play the challenge shown in the screenshot above;
The task at hand is written in bold red letters, and there is a before and after screenshot underneath showing what it is you should try to achieve. In case you have no clue how to do this you can hit the Hint! button in the right pane and be presented with the solution – if you do this you will of course get fewer points than you would have if you achieved it all on your own. The faster you do things also gains you more points. To me – the whole points thing is not that interesting – what I like is the way I am led through a process where I can learn something new on how Word, Excel and PowerPoint works.
In the task above I selected all the text and hit the Clear formatting button on the Home tab which gave me the following feedback;
Although it has only been available for a couple of months, and are still in the development face, I have no problem in recommending Ribbon Hero for everyone using either Office 2007 or Office 2010. Go grab your copy here. And to you guys at Office Labs; I want this for my Outlook 2010 as well!