Do I have to use the Ribbon?

In the 2010 version of Civil 3D the interface has been dramatically redone to incorporate the ribbon. As with most changes like this some people love it while others do not and want to know if they can use the old system. The short answer is yes, you can setup Civil 3D 2010 to look like previous versions… to a certain extent. But first let’s talk a little about ribbons so you can make an informed decision about using them.


For those of you that have not seen it yet the graphic above is the ribbon interface from Civil 3D 2010. The ribbon consists of many different tabs, and each tab consists of multiple panels, separated by vertical lines. Each panel contains many related tools, some of which have fly-out menus with options.

For example, in the following graphic Modify is the tab, Design is the panel and Intersection is one of the toolsMany panels show additional tools when you expand them, by clicking on the panel’s title bar; a down-arrow on a title bar below indicates that the Design panel is expandable.


Another aspect of ribbon is that it can be context sensitive. When you select certain objects, such as images, alignments, or profiles, a new tab is displayed with tools specific to that object. This temporary, additional tab is colored green, to indicate that it is context sensitive.

As stated earlier you can bring back the old pull down menus and turn off the ribbon if you really want to. First to turn on the pull down menus enter MENUBAR at the command line and set the value to 1. Then to turn off the ribbon enter RIBBONCLOSE at the command line. If you decide to tour the ribbon back on enter RIBBON at the command line to restore it.
Before you start typing to turn off the ribbon give it a try. Most people find that after using it for a few hours that they actually like the ribbon. As discussed above it is context sensitive so by selecting an object you will be shown the most common commands used with it. Furthermore, and probably most importantly, some of the new Civil 3D commands, including the intersection commands, are not in the pull down menus. They are only found in the ribbon. Other commands, like the View/Edit Corridor Section command must have the ribbon turned on to function. In this case if you try to run the command with the ribbon turned off you will get an error message instructing you to turn on the ribbon if you want to use this command.
In conclusion, you can turn off the ribbon and bring back your pull down menus using the commands above or by editing your workspace through the CUI command. However, the ribbon is the direction that Autodesk is going with the interface and it may be more trouble for you than it is worth to fight it. Besides, if you try it you may like it after all. If you are struggling to find your way around in the new ribbon interface there is information within the help system, also, all of out 2010 books have been updated specifically to utilize the ribbon and to help you learn and gain a comfort level with it.

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