Customization Blog series: Customizing the Ribbon - Blog 1 of 4

Introduction to the Ribbon Interface

The MicroStation ribbon interface typically follows the Microsoft Office ribbon with some enhancements. The following image shows the different components of a ribbon.

The size of the ribbon components automatically adjusts as you resize the product window. This adjustment also happens when you view the application on different screen sizes. You can also customize the ribbon, about which we will learn more in further blogs.

Let us first have a look at each of the ribbon components.

File Tab (Backstage View)

The blue tab labeled File on the extreme left opens the backstage view. This tab is independent of the Workflow that you select. The backstage view contains primarily the tools that were previously available in the File, Workspace, and Help menus.

Ribbon Workflows

The ribbon tabs are organized per workflows. Each workflow has a set of tabs and tools within them. The default workflows are Drawing, Modeling (3D model only), Visualization (3D model only), and Task Navigation. Each workflow contains tools pertaining to a common work environment, like the Modeling workflow primarily contains 3D modeling tools for solids, surface, and mesh modeling. Similarly, the Visualization workflow contains relevant tools for animation, rendering, and similar work. The Task Navigation workflow is provided to import and display old tasks and workflows created in previous versions of MicroStation.

Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

The Quick Access Toolbar or QAT, is available at the top of the application window and displays few frequently used tools such as Save, Save Settings, etc. These tools are available at all times, irrespective of which Workflow is selected.


Tabs contain multiple ribbon groups, which in turn contain tools and buttons. A workflow contains a fixed set of tabs.

Contextual Tabs

Contextual tabs are tabs that are displayed only when you select a particular element type. For example, a contextual tab for a table is displayed when you select a table.

Ribbon Groups

A ribbon group is a labeled set of closely related tools or buttons.

Dialog Launcher

A dialog launcher is a button at the bottom of some ribbon groups, which opens a dialog related to the ribbon group. For example, a dialog launcher in the Snaps ribbon group will open the AccuSnap Settings dialog.

Buttons, Split Buttons, Drop-Down Buttons

The ribbon contains buttons or tools. The buttons can be placed single or grouped together as split buttons or drop-down buttons. The split buttons and drop-down buttons contain a default tool icon and a down arrow. Clicking the down arrow lists all the tools in that split button or drop-down button. The only subtle difference between a split button and a drop-down button is that when you click the icon on the split button, it activates the default tool, whereas, when you click the icon on the drop-down button, it expands the drop-down button.

In-Ribbon Galleries

In-ribbon galleries give you a beautiful graphical representation of tools or options. The Materials library is a good example of the same.

Group Pop-up Menus

You can show/hide buttons in a ribbon group. Right-clicking on a ribbon group opens a pop-up menu which lists all the buttons in the ribbon group. You can check or un-check the buttons from here.

Ribbon Search

With so many tools, it is sometimes difficult to remember where a particular tool lies. The ribbon search option provides a simple solution for this. Just type-in partial or full name of the tool or dialog and you will get a list of relevant tools and dialogs. Clicking on a result will even start the tool or dialog. The search scans across workflows.

The shortcut to go to the Search utility is <F4>. The search utility also has some advanced features such as listing the Most Recently Used and Show Details.

Miscellaneous buttons

Right next to the Search utility, there are following buttons. Again, these are common to all workflows.

Sign In

Starts the CONNECTION Client. If you are already signed in, a small sign-in glyph displays.


Starts the CONNECT Advisor. CONNECT Advisor is a one-stop-shop for all your content requirements. It scans data from various sources such as Bentley Communities, Bentley LEARNserver, YouTube channels, Product Help , etc. and gives relevant results.

Minimize Ribbon

Clicking this button will minimize the ribbon. Even in minimized state, you can click on a tab to view its tools.


Opens the MicroStation help.

In the next blog we will learn how to create the custom ribbon components such as Workflow, tabs, groups, buttons etc. 

translated German Wiki Article: