In the early 80s, along with the initial advent of the PC revolution, IBM decided to try standardizing rules for the user interface of (at the time DOS-based) PC applications. This specification was called Common User Access (CUA) and Microsoft championed it for many years in DOS programs and in all early versions of Windows, to the point that it has become a natural way of interacting with most programs. You know that the Copy and Paste commands will be under an Edit menu and you have to look under File for saving or loading a document, so there is one less thing you have to learn for every new program.
Even if there were many additions to CUA, including toolbars, shortcut menus, command bars, and more, its core structure held for about 20 years. Microsoft broke away from this rule for the first time in Office 2007 (and partially in Windows Vista) with the definition of a new user interface paradigm, called Fluent User Interface. This interface is generally known as the Ribbon Interface from its core visual element.
I don't want to delve into the debate here as to whether this was really a good move or not (I do have a few doubts), but only focus on the fact that this user interface and its set of stringent rules is not trivial to implement without some ready-to-use visual components. Delphi 2009 has such a set of visual controls, which are the subject of the current chapter. They were developed for CodeGear by Jeremy North131.
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