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We have a fairly large application that has moved from the menu/toolbar motif to the ribbon motif. One piece still bothers me: We used to have a search bar in the toolbar/menu area packed at the far right, and it was always available. It served as a search bar like in the browsers. With the ribbon I am not sure of what to do with it.

If we put it on the Home tab it

  • won't pack far right w/o a gallery (we don't use galleries)
  • won't always be available.

If we put it in the Quick Action Toolbar it

  • won't pack far right
  • takes up a lot of QAT space, and interacts poorly with the context menus because of it's width.

If we put it below the ribbon there is nothing else for it to share horizontal space with.

Are there any other approaches I should be considering to allow for an always available search bar with a ribbon application?

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Does it have to be on the ribbon? –  Leonardo Herrera Nov 23 '10 at 17:51
    
It doesn't have to be on the ribbon. But I am interested in seeing actual approaches "in the wild" –  shemnon Apr 19 '11 at 21:53

4 Answers 4

Can you put it above the ribbon at the tab level?

alt text

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Can that be done with the WPF ribbon? –  whatsisname Mar 21 '11 at 19:01
    
Is this a photoshopped image or an actual screenshot? –  shemnon Apr 19 '11 at 21:53
    
@shemnon Photoshopped in this case, but there is an actual control supporting a similar layout (see other answers). –  dbkk Apr 22 '11 at 0:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Looks like Micrsoft is putting it below the ribbon bar, as seen in the screenshot for Windows 8 file explorer described in the msdn blog.

Windows 8 file explorer

They also have some other components included with the search bar, sich as the forward/back buttons and the location control.

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Just noting that the QAT can be placed above or below the Ribbon as well. –  Michael Lai Jul 3 '13 at 2:22

I don't know which vendors component set you're using - but the Developer Express WPF Ribbon does support the suggestion made by dbkk of putting it at the same level as the ribbon tabs.

Here's an example from DevExpress' online documentation:

Developer Express Example

Image taken from http://documentation.devexpress.com/#WPF/CustomDocument8178

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I would put a search bar on the Home tab and optionally put a button on the Quick Action Toolbar. This button activates the search bar.

Thinking about how a search bar is used, it is not that obvious what it provides other than what a simple button for the Find command provides. To activate the search bar, a user has to click it or press the keyboard shortcut for it. Either way, a bar itself does not have to be always shown on the screen.

I think that the only thing that a search bar provides is the indication that users can search. This is useful for new users.

You state that your application is “fairly large,” from which I assume that users are expected to use it repeatedly and soon they get familiar with its basic functionality. In this case, we should not spend screen real estate for new users too much.

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