MATLAB Answers

Jan Simon

Experiences with release 2012b

Asked by Jan Simon
on 13 Sep 2012
Latest activity Edited by John Kelly
on 12 Feb 2015

Did you try 2012b already? What do you like, what has still potential for further improvements, what makes working with Matlab harder than with earlier releases?

How large is the overlap between the new features and the list of wished changes: Answers: what-is-missing-from-matlab?


Jan Simon
on 17 Sep 2012

I'd prefer some hopefully positive feedback about the new Simulink features in this thread as counter part to the negative opinions about the ribbons and the new style of the documentation.

EDITOR NOTE: In the interest of putting comments in the right place (answers to the question where they can be voted on) I moved some of the comments (positive and negative) into the answers section, just like I do for other questions.

Jan Simon
on 10 Jul 2013

@Wesley: Please post this as an answer, not as a comment. While I can reconsider all of your impressions and emotions, I do not agree with the last sentencs: I have an old incredibly stable QNX, which boots from a floppy disk. Here the obvious bottleneck is the hardware, to be exact the floppy disk support and stability.

I have not heard of any other Matlab release which cause so much detest.


No products are associated with this question.

42 Answers

Answer by Malcolm Lidierth
on 15 Sep 2012
 Accepted answer

Why has the menu system survived for so long in so many software packages? Because it is a triumph of design and function. File->Open, Edit->Paste were ubiquitous. When I downloaded a trial of a software package I had not used before, I knew immediately how to get started.

Ribbons are a retrograde step. They leave both new and "veteran" users of software struggling to find the right button. They are triumphs of style over substance.


on 12 Jun 2013

But really, thank you!

on 4 Sep 2013

From seeing the word "apps" I start having a wish to switch back to Comodore. Maybe I'm biased but seeing all these user friendly interface additions makes me feel less serious about the contents. Right now I'm unsuccessfully trying to customize the color scheme (can't find it.. I will hopefully in few more minutes..).

on 10 Oct 2013

I felt likewise, working with MS Word. But I found Matlab toolstrip fine.

Answer by Yair Altman
on 13 Sep 2012

I must say that I expected more from ML8 than a Desktop facelift. Yes, I know it's anything but "simple", and I am aware of the few incremented upgrades (a few of which I like, particularly the static Java classpath/librarypath thingy that I wrote about in my latest post). Still, I would have liked a major version upgrade to include major changes to the figure window and GUI controls (anyone mention HG2?), upgraded JIT engine, better memory management and monitoring tools, improved start-up speed, and better use of modern multi-core and GPU capabilities. Please don't try to sell me stories that the small set of incremental improvements are worthy of a major release.

When MTW last added a major engine upgrade (JIT), they called the new release 6.5, not even a full major version mind you. Calling this new version 8.0 is perhaps only a marketing ploy, but I think many ardent Matlabers, who eagerly await a serious upgrade for many years now, might even be offended. I for one was disappointed.

I know it's not the same engineering skill-set and I understand the business tradeoffs and the different TTM for engine upgrades vs. facelift upgrades. Still, I thought I'd share my personal 0.02.


@Image Analyst I get about 20000 hits for "matlab hg2". The first few links provide the answer.

Jan Simon
on 14 Sep 2012

@IA: I suggest to read Yair's blog from start to end. It's a treasure.

HG2 refers to handle graphics 2 I suspect. In development hell for some time.

Answer by Michelle Hirsch
on 19 Sep 2012

(cross-posting a comment I just submitted on Loren's blog)

Hey everybody – it’s Scott here. I’m the head of the MATLAB product management team, responsible for steering the overall direction for MATLAB. Many of you know me from my more active days on the file exchange, blogs, or personally from my years of traveling to meet with MATLAB users around the US and the world. (I also happen to be the dorky looking guy in the What’s new in MATLAB video, with a voice not nearly as charming as the legendary Scottish voice of MATLAB …)

I wanted to let you know that we are listening. We really appreciate all of your feedback, and particularly the passion that all of you bring to MATLAB.

I believe that we all have the same goals – we want MATLAB to be great, to continue to be adopted by more and more users around the world, everyone from experienced programmers to engineers who are limping by analyzing data with spreadsheets.

To this end, we have a large development team working on many different fronts. We are working on graphics, performance, language, libraries, GUI building, etc. Each of these moves forward on its own timeline, with capabilities released as soon as they are ready. It just so happens that our updates to the desktop and help system happened to be ready at 12b, while much of the work in other areas is still in progress.

I’ve seen some comments here and elsewhere on expectations for “version 8.” We decided to rev the version number to 8, mainly because we were tired of 7.1x … It doesn’t mean that you have to wait 8 more years for a “9″ to see some of the other features you are hoping for. You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been de-emphasizing version numbers of the past several years as we’ve switched to releasing features as they are ready every 6 months instead of bundling up all big changes into a single major release. We are continuing with this approach.

I really hope that you will give the new release a real try before dismissing it. It’s been said before, but we tested this release a ton with users, including ones with lots of experience who use MATLAB very heavily. Keep in mind that the new version had to pass the muster of our own development organization, which is likely one of the largest groups of professional software developers using MATLAB in the world. There are a lot of features (which we will cover in subsequent blogs) that we put in specifically to ensure that power users could continue to have highly productive workflows in the MATLAB desktop.

We look forward to hearing your continued feedback, particularly from those of you who can find the time to invest energy in really trying out the new release. As you learn your way around, let us know what’s working (“hey, I never knew you could jump the debugger to the current line”) and what’s not (“I really want to be able to separate the items in my quick access toolbar”).

Thanks again. As always, I’m happy to communicate via the community, or privately if you prefer. My email address is listed on my File Exchange page.


Jan Simon
on 1 Oct 2012

@Thomas Hoffend: I'm using a simple tool, which allows spatial navigation with the mouse programmatically without using the toolbar. I find this even more intuitive. There are some similar tools in the FEX.

That is great Jan, but I should not have to search, find, download, and install a new tool and retrain my brain/muscle memory to learn to work with it.

The point is that I, and probably many other long-time users, have an established work flow that functions very well for us. Some past additions to Matlab worked within established work flow patterns and enhanced productivity. Core cells would be one example.

I am rarely inspired or annoyed enough to make comments concerning a software product. This update messes with my workflow significantly and offers nothing in return. I have decided to go back to using a previous version until The Mathworks sorts this out. If The Mathworks really is listening to this thread, then there should be some intense "firefighting" meetings going on right now.

Just updated to 2013a from 2012a and I agree with @Thomas Hoffend about the figure toolbar. I make heavy use of it and prefer to dock my figures in a lower panel on the screen. Moving the figure toolstrip to the main ribbon from the figure window is absolutely maddening to me. Instead of a tiny mouse movement from the plot to change the figure tool and back, I now have to move the mouse all the way across the screen and back. Came here to find the option to dock the figure toolstrip on the figure window, leaving sorely disappointed with the UI redesign.

Ditto that complaint for the debug tools which have been removed from the editor window. Seriously interferes with my UI efficiency. Thumbs down, way way down.

Answer by Oleg Komarov
on 13 Sep 2012
Edited by Oleg Komarov
on 13 Sep 2012

I already let TMW know but I'll be posting here as well:

  • I miss the previous edit configurations window. Now I have to create separate m-files (which I did not want to do) and call them instead of keeping my testing suite hidden in the configurations for the specific function (script).

Thinking whether to feedback this as well:

I personally DO NOT like the ribbon, it takes way too much space. Nowadays wide screens are the standard format and giving so much space to a ribbon is inefficient. Hiding the ribbon on the other hand forces me to remember all the shortcuts by heart. One single line toolbar was perfect. Maybe I am just averse to significant changes.


@Thomas, you say "a large installed and long-time user base should never be made unless absolutely necessary" like it is a certainty, yet every software package that I can think of that has anything beyond a CLI has made these changes. According to your philosophy MATLAB should never have "abandoned" the CLI. I can think of lots of software that has done exactly what you say shouldn't happen. At the desktop environment level both FOSS (KDE and Gnome) and proprietary (Windows and Mac) have undergone huge "unnecessary" changes. All have meet with initial user complaints, which tend to die down eventually. Internet browsers have also see changes (e.g., tab browsing) as well as office applications (OpenOffice and MS Office).

Jan Simon
on 3 Oct 2012

@Daniel: Evolution does not have a direction. Here software packages do not differ from biological species. A new GUI philosophy will survive, it is fitter than others - and this does not necessarily mean better. Even the perfectly adjusted saber-tooth tiger became extinct.

The CLI still exists in 2012b. I get the analogy though. Some code changes are useful upgrades and some are hindrances. Core cells were an incredible productivity enhancer for me. The context-sensitive editor also has helped quite a bit. I happen to think that the 2012b interface is a hindrance. I also suspect that the transition was never requested by users. However there are many other enhancements that have been requested.

In regards to various other software packages, I am reminded of the old cliche' "if everyone jumps off a cliff does that mean you should too?" Not that it matters, but there are plenty of specialized professional computational software packages that do not use a toolstrip and that probably do not have the development funds to waste going in that direction.

The fact that this trendy interface appeared in Matlab suggests to me that TMW has become too large and lost its connection with its real customers. I read Scott's words below "the new version had to pass the muster of our own development organization, which is likely one of the largest groups of professional software developers using MATLAB in the world". That pretty much sums it up.

Answer by Ian
on 14 Sep 2012
Edited by Ian
on 14 Sep 2012

As usual, a lot of disappointment. I'm sure the UI refactoring is useful to some people, but the ribbon is a conceptual reassignment of function locations, which at best offers greater discoverability for new users, and at worst a disorienting experience for those used to a menu paradigm (in which case, keyboard shortcuts are your friend). As an OS X user, the ribbon adds nothing of value. Nevertheless overall this really is a minor change (do people really twiddle with the UI for most of the time in Matlab, are they really saving substantial time clicking through ribbon tabs than a menu?). Matlab has a number of core features used daily that are in desperate need of updating:

  1. Graphics are still rendered without anti-aliasing and robust alpha opacity support with the default renderer. We have a hodge-podge of 3 different renderers each with a set of drawbacks (i.e. opacity support in OpenGL causes vector export to fail!!!). Where is the modern graphics support, something like a native PDF or SVG engine, per item opacity and full anti-aliasing without compromises? Pixellated klunky graphing is embarrassing for a suite for which visualisation is a core component...
  2. Guide is a bug ridden, slow and hugely limited mess. The UI toolkit is already very limited in Matlab, but then Matlab wraps that in a really dated, slow UI editor. It falls over when dealing with anything more than simplistic UIs (try multiple selecting groups of components and arrow-key positioning them; or try changing tab order, and watch Matlab brought to its knees). Give us a modern UI toolkit (it is already mostly there under the surface, see undocumented matlab), and build a UI editor that doesn't suck. Why does TMW hide things like HG2 for years!?!?
  3. Editor is still very basic. I'd realy like to see better/smarter completions for things like class properties, and a structure browser for methods/subfunctions. Something like "Go to anything..." (fuzzy find any file/function/class/method anywhere in the path) in Sublime Text 2 would be awesome.
  4. More robust parallelization; The parallel computing toolbox is very useful, but it would be really helpful to have some of that core functionality within Matlab itself, these should be language features, not added extras.
  5. Better platform integration: On OS X we still are waiting for clipboard support for vector graphics (OS X had PDF built-in, this is not difficult), and even simple Applescript abilities would allow very powerful integration with other apps (like Excel for example). I'm sure gnome/kde would benefit from similar changes too. TMW seems to only really support Windows platform specific features and technologies, and the other platforms are second-class citizens (but we don't get financial discounts for reduced functionality)...
  6. EDIT: Serialisation for Matlab objects, very important when communicating among several Matlab instances.

So another 6 month wait and we can only dream we will get a release that is more than tweaks to the UI.


I thought PDF could not handle transparency? Or is that a limit only for Postscript?

on 17 Sep 2012

Walter, PDF handles transparency just fine, I use Adobe Illustrator that exports to PDF with per-item opacity perfectly preserved. I don't really mind what vector format Mathworks supports (SVG is another great candidate), but I'd just like a robust handle graphics renderer that can handle opacity, anti-aliases properly and can export to vectors when relelvant (and can cope with copy/paste). This has been techically possible for years now.


Apologies for promoting my own code but:

a forthcoming "alpha" release of Project Waterloo (free and open-source) provides a pure Java 2D graphics library together with a MATLAB-like API e.g. scatter, line etc. It supports anti-aliased graphics and text, transparency (at single color, plot and graph level) and is fully serializable to XML. In MATLAB, Waterloo graphics and MATLAB graphics can be mixed in a single figure (snapshot below form R2012b on a Mac: top-left/bottom-right=MATLAB, top-right/bottom-left=Waterloo). Copy/paste has yet to be implemented (the code is being developed still) but output to SVG and PDF are supported.

The new version will be posted to SourceForge early October (see

Answer by Eric
on 13 Sep 2012

My biggest gripe with the ribbon interface is the enormous amount of screen space it wastes. But the ability to hide it and put my favorite buttons in the quick access toolbar and the ability to put the quick access toolbar and current folder toolbar on the same line helps considerably. I do miss the "Execute entire file" button since it doesn't force you to change the current directory the way the Run button does.

Also, it would be nice if the Mathworks would admit this is a ribbon and use the Ctrl+F1 keyboard shortcut to allow hiding it. If you're going to copy Office's interface, you might as well copy their keyboard shortcuts as well.

A bigger concern for me is that this is where the Mathworks is choosing to apply its resources. They are clearly more concerned about bringing in new users than adding functionality.

This reminds me a lot of what happened to Mathcad when it was bought by PTC. PTC's first full release of Mathcad, Mathcad Prime, actually had reduced functionality compared to Mathcad 15. Many of my documents from Mathcad 14 actually would not work with Mathcad Prime because of this. Mathcad Prime introduced the ribbon interface as well. Maybe Mathcad Prime 2.0 has restored all of the functionality that had previously been lost, but I wouldn't know as I no longer use the program.

That's not to say this is necessarily a bad decision by the Mathworks. They're just optimizing to a different metric. Maybe alienating a few advanced users and allowing the functionality to stagnate is worth it if you can bring in a significant number of new users.



Matt Tearle used to have the little Mathworks logo beside his name, as did the other Mathworkers.

@Eric -

Dave G and I noticed the evaluate all question on Loren's blog. Not sure if you saw the answer there. But instead of doing ctrl-a; F9 which ends up copying everything to the command window, you can also evalute an entire file using the documented editor api that was released about a year ago. You can put it then behind a shortcut button as a make-shift replacement for the missing button -

Code here -

activeEditor = matlab.desktop.editor.getActive ;
eval(activeEditor.Text) ;

This might help a bit.

on 14 Sep 2012


Thanks for this - I'll try it out. If I can get that button back I think I can use 2012b in the same way as I did 2012a.


Answer by Yair Altman
on 27 Sep 2012

Not less importantly than the documentation layout, many online doc pages have changed URLs, and the old URLs no longer work. I see this as a serious regression problem. I strongly urge MathWorks to redirect all the previous URLs to the new ones (server side redirect - http "301 Permanently Moved") so that old links, of which there are tons across the net, are not broken. I fail to see how this has gotten past the QA phase.


Huh, so it is. I did not notice it there on the product page.

I do not expect an important documentation index such as that to be found on a sales product page and not (at least that I could see) on the Documentation page for the toolbox.

Please put back the ability to search in other releases right from every document page! It is a nuisance to have to head up to the top of the documentation to find the link to get to the archives list to search from there.

Better yet would be to have every page able to search for its equivalent in previous releases.

Thanks for the feedback, Walter. I will share your input with our development leads.

Answer by Alex
on 14 Sep 2012

I agree with the majority here that the Ribbon is a very disappoint UI change.

At the very best the UI wastes screen real estate, at worst it requires more clicks without adding functionality.

Why are the icons trip height taking up more valuable room in the vertical direction while half the strip is gray empty space in the horizontal direction?

Previously, the icons for various actions were in the window they pertained to (i.e. step, step into, continue, etc. were in the editor window), now one must to go to the top of the screen, click a tab, then click the button.

Poorly conceived. Time would have been better spent on real enhancements to the language.


Alex: the OpenEXR discussion should really be a new question since it's not related to the 12b release.

Have you seen:

on 19 Sep 2012


I agree this should be a new topic. It sort of organically grew out of the 2012b discussion. Also, I'm familiar with the tool your provided the link for, however, it does have some pretty signifincant limitations. Mathworks support for DPX and EXR would be much preferred because it's documented, tested, and confirmed to work well.


I can answer your question as to why there is empty grey area at the right of some of the tabs (mostly the Home tab). Part of the reason is that we have to design for a wide variety of screen sizes and resolutions and part of the reason is to allow for future additions to a given tab.

Answer by Star Strider
on 16 Sep 2012

In addition to the Shortcut porting problem IA noted, I find ‘Help’ to be significantly less helpful than in previous releases. (I use Help often because of all the complexities in the various functions and function changes between versions.) In addition to Kevin's comments about Help for the Editor having disappeared, the toolbox ‘tree’ in the left panel of Help that I always found so useful no longer exists. That makes browsing — and discovering new ways to do things — more difficult.

It is also more difficult to actually read the Help entries. The various topic titles within each Help entry seem to be the same size and font as their descriptions, making it a challenge to find the various topics. The titles blend in with the descriptions.

Please bring back the 2012a version of Help!


@Jan: "Release Notes", right under the "R2012b" in the middle.

Jan Simon
on 17 Sep 2012

Thanks, Sean. The lines starting with a bold > are links. They are neither underlined not is there a hover efect, at least in my Firefox. But I image that there is a help for reading the doc, which tells me, that these are links. What a bad idea. Fortunately I've found the "expand all" link, which is displayed in blue such that the clickability is intuitively clear.

Then I find the yellow sign with the exclamation mark in the release notes, which is obviously important. Such important, that it is ok to guess what it should mean. They look fancy and as experienced user of the docs I do can guess their meaning. But usability and guessability are not the same. Nice animations of the expanding are not a helpful replacement of clarity.

After I find out how to use the release notes I hit:

 Conversion of Error and Warning Message Identifiers
 For R2012b, error and warning message identifiers have changed in MATLAB.

Fine, nice to know. I've opened the link to the solution 1-ERAFNC and found a link to a PDF(!), which contains the old and new keys. Collecting a list of strings in a PDF is a very bad idea, because it efficiently impedes an automatic search in the user-defined code. Frustrated I gave up again.

So, Sean, I admit that all required information are there, but they are not trivial to find and to use.

Star Strider
on 17 Sep 2012

@ Jan Simon — I originally meant ‘Help’ — the Help browser that comes up with the ‘View product documentation (F1)’ — but I just discovered that in 2012b, ‘doc’ brings up the Help browser as well. (I rarely use ‘doc’, preferring the 2012a and previous versions Search option in the Help browser.)

Answer by Doug Hull
on 19 Sep 2012

EDITOR NOTE: In the interest of putting these comments in the right place (answers to the question where they can be voted on) I am moving the comments (positive and negative) into the answers section, just like I do for other questions.


This new release is HORRIBLE.... All MatLab textbooks are now broken...Is there a way to use the old workspace ???

At the monent I am having to backup a release so we can use it...

BAD and a horrible roll-out

Also because of this horrible new interface I am cancelling orders for 5 new systems.....


David, your comment suggests to me that Mathworks has written the changes to the interface in stone and is not willing to consider admitting it made a mistake and revert to a previous interface. The correct thing to do would be to examine your VOC's (if you have any) and decision matrix again and let us know what they say about changing the interface to Matlab in such a dramatic way. Any input data that came from within Mathworks from anyone is not valid VOC data. If you have no valid VOC data then I really would suggest that you revert.

I think specifics have been given before but here are some:

1) The toolstrip is a waste of screen real estate in a multi-functional computational and visualization environment.

2) Multiple mouse clicks are required to achieve common tasks where one was required before.

3) Hiding the toolstrip is not a viable option because required context-dependent tools are there and opening it requires an additional mouse click. In addition, if (like me) you dock your figure windows for visualizing whatever you are doing at the top (left in my case) of your screen, popping up the toolstrip will partially cover the figure that you want to rotate, zoom, etc. Suppose I want to rotate a figure. First I have to activate the figure window toolstrip context by clicking in the window. Then I have to open the toolstrip for "figure". Then I have to click on the widget for "rotate". Then I have to click back on the figure. Hopefully I don't move down and click accidentally on the portion of the figure that is now covered by the toolstrip (so I have to move the mouse further == bad ergonomics). Then I can use the rotate tool. Next suppose that I want to zoom in on a spot... wash, rinse, repeat.

4) The toolstrip is bad ergonomically for a hybrid shortcut/mouse user such as me (see number 3 above).

5) A single toolbar for favorite actions like the ones I mentioned above is not sufficient.

6) The new help system does not function nearly as conveniently as previously, where it was very easy to open to a section of a "textbook" and browse or search.

7) The new help system is broken - I get multiple types of errors from either Matlab directly or from Visual Studio (asking if I wish to debug a web page).

8) The new interface suggests that Mathworks and Matlab is going in the direction of enabling users to build cute little apps for mobile devices and not serious high performance computation/visualization tools. To me this is the most upsetting of all really.

9) Matlab is still pretty slow in many regards and could use development dollars for computation instead of flashy new interfaces (you get a "two-fer" in terms of angering long-term users) and could use some additional functionality at the core in terms of basic functions and conveniences (not in toolboxes) and parallelism (again not in special a toolbox). I still go to Intel Parallel Studio or to a commercial code that is multi-threaded for the really intensive stuff.

From a customer service point of view, whether a comment is "bashing" does not matter (I realize the word came from Jan and not you). What does matter is that a licensee is upset enough that he has cancelled five orders and told you here in this public forum. I conjecture that for every person that tells you that in public, there are several more that are doing the same thing silently. This is nothing short of a disaster for Mathworks.

There are people here with whom I work and who work very similarly to me (on different projects) with Python and SciPy/NumPy or Mathematica instead of Matlab. I am a facile Python programmer and I license Tecplot which is an excellent visualization package that has a Python interface. I use Matlab for the convenience and the maintenance all in one spot. I have not cancelled my maintenance agreement yet, but I am considering doing so.

Update: The help-related issue seems to have gone away. It was persistent after a reboot, but I am not having the issue anymore. That is weird.

Also as luck would have it, I took delivery of a new HP 8560w EliteBook last week. I tried a fresh install of 2012b on that I experienced no bugs related to help.

The earlier comment by Thomas Hoffend pretty much summed the problems from my point of view. In general, the ribbon (or toolstrip) is the most HORRIBLE 'feature' in this new version. It wastes tons of space and also removed the ability to add/remove things from the toolbar.

It was really disappointing to see that even Matlab/Mathworks got caught up in the stupid cool/cute looking GUI revamp, while compromising the usability. There were some minor good things, like help search on top right, but in general it was a very disappointing update.

I am going back to R2012a and will stick to it as long as possible.

Answer by sfreeman
on 4 Oct 2012

To add perhaps a few further views on the R2012b discussion:

1. Well I am also not in favor of ribbons, however when I invest some time in getting my shortcuts on the fastlaunch bar, it does not bother me to much (like MS Office - do a ribbon which suits you and fine).

2. When you adapt ribbons, please do not only copy - go further!

a) allow users to choose icon sizes, fontsize etc. in the ribbons

b) allow users to define ribbons height - not only minimizing/maximizing

c) do not only allow shortcuts but also to allow individual icons (if you now think of apps - please see below)

3. Completely packaged apps are nice, however there is quite some use for preference files or user individual application extensions. (e. g. I use a "macro" system for one of my internal company applications, which allow users to add active buttons by placing a m-file in a certain folder) Afaik this is not possible with apps.

4. Biggest issure in my eyes is however the new help:

It started already years ago with the omission of the index tab - MATLAB and all its toolboxes are a large coding environment with an exceptional function envelope. However you can only make use of it, if you have the idea, that the function in question exists. While searching the help via the index, it was always a good occation to learn about so far unknown functions. No index, no chance to step over completely different functions.

Another opportunity to learn more MATLAB "vocabulary" was the content browser. "was" - with the new help system. With the new "table of contents" open topics do not stay open when I go to one item, the performance is lausy and even cross-browsing of different tollboxes is not possible.

After years of training new colleagues with MATLAB, where the first sentence was "MATLAB has the best help system ever!", this has now come to an end. Sad days...

________ /me sticks with the R2009a help...

  1 Comment

Jan Simon
on 4 Oct 2012

Matlab is very powerful. While reading the Getting Started chapters is a good point to start from, getting an experienced Matlab programmer needs much more. The (formerly?) excellent help of Matlab has been fundamental for learning sophisticated details. The "See also" lines in the help texts are very helpful also (and they are still there, I hope). Inspecting the M-files reveals more details. Finally the newsgroup and forum are important also.

Therefore your impression, that the new help style is less productive, is very important. I could imagine that it was the goal of the designers to reduce the chance to get less related information, when you search in the docs. But as you say, sfreeman, sometimes (or always) totally unrelated information will be useful because it spreads the knowledge of the language. Imagine that someone tries to teach a child to talk only by answering its questions perfectly.

So it could be helpful for learning to drive the help in a more sloppy or fuzzy fashion, like:

You've look for parenthesis, but do you know the 'parent' property already?

Answer by Dan K
on 5 Oct 2012

  1. When I dock a figure, it makes the figure toolbar virtually useless, since it becomes a tab on ribbon. For me there are a few specific issues with this. One I dock my figures on the right hand side of my screen (which means that the zoom, pan, etc controls are all on the far side of the screen from my figures) And, I often want access to both those tools and the editor tab of the ribbon at the same time! There should be an option to doc the figure toolbar in the figure window. I know this seems minor to some, but IT IS SERIOUSLY IMPACTING MY ABILITY TO GET MY WORK DONE! (Sorry, I'm done shouting now).
  2. Has space become so precious that there's no longer room for the undock icons in the environment tabs?
  3. The new help system stinks (I know others have said it and I've voted for every one of those posts too.) I mean, seriously: a pop up contents directory tree (and it's slow to boot)!
  4. I'm not vision impaired! I don't need my icons to be nearly 10% of the vertical space on my monitor! I actually have a use for that space.
  5. I don't know if anybody else has this problem but the report buttons on the current folder toolbar don't work (although the reports accessed from the drop down menu do).


(5) Define "not work"? Does something come up? Etc...

Dan K
on 5 Oct 2012

Nothing... not a twitch... nada. I have submitted a bug report on this one.

Yeah, I am able to reproduce that when the current folder toolbar is below the toolstrip. If I right-click on one of the icons and "move toolbar inside current folder panel" then life is good.

Interestingly life is good as long as it's there. When I move it back to under the toolstrip it works until I click something else. Then it quits working again.

Answer by Daniel Shub
on 14 Sep 2012

I will preface my answer with I haven't tried 2012b yet, but I have read the release notes and some reviews. The disappointment in the major version release not including much new functionality and "only" a major interface overhaul, makes me want to express why I "buy" MATLAB. I should point out that technically I have never paid for MATLAB out of my own pocket, but I have paid for it from my grants and advocated my university to buy a TAH license.

I "buy" software maintenance for MATLAB because of the IDE. I believe the MATLAB IDE is miles ahead of any IDE, especially of any FOSS IDEs, for Python and Octave (languages that I think are comparable to MATLAB). The MATLAB IDE is so good, that I rarely use Emacs anymore when writing MATLAB code (which is not the case for any other language that I write in). The last feature addition to the MATLAB language that I have really benefited from is the overhaul to OO system that occurred 5+ years ago and before that it was the ability to use JAVA (my guess is the MEX interface was also huge, but MEX was already/always there by the time I needed it). I can imagine the move to HG2, when and if it happens, might be of similar importance. I would happily pay for they upgrades. The improvements to the JIT, memory management, multi-core processing and the additional functions are nice, but none would make me upgrade. The IDE seems to be continuously getting better and every release in the 7.x series seemed to make the IDE just a little bit slicker.

So while I wish TMW would improve the MATLAB language (or ideally make it open source), I appreciate there efforts to improve the IDE. I can only hope that the ribbon is not a step back.


Jan Simon
on 14 Sep 2012

While it has been trivial to enable "dbstop if all error" in the "Debug" menu of Matlab 6.5, I still do not understand the Matlab 7+ multi-level debug menu anymore. Therefore I started to use the command window only to set the debug levels.

I never used shortcuts and the start-menu only to activate a new version of my help files. I miss the possibility to insert my own entries in the context menu of the command window. As workaraound I've inserted some code in "edit.m" which opens the Windows Explorer, if the inputs is a folder, such that I can hit the "Open" menu for a selected folder name. But a dedicated menu entry would be better.

Matlab 5.3 had user-defined commands, which could by activated in the editor. These commands could insert text at the cursor position and access the contents of the current selection. After this power has been lost in 6.5 I stopped looking for newer equivalent solutions. Now we have the undocumented FEX: EditorMacro.

Matlab does not offer a neat method to manage working with different projects, see Answers: Path management. The raw interface to the source control systems is lean. E.g. when a project is developped by 5 programmers it is not trivial to highlight the changes applied yesterday by programmer C.

I have found a nice monospaced font, which is displayed with a high contrast and sharp in R2009a. Unfortunately R2011b scales the font by some percent and I assume some font smoothing is applied, such that the characters look slobbery.

I like Matlab's IDE and I see some points where improvements are possible. Ribbons do not belong to these points.

I'm very curious to experiment with Apps. Are they compatible with ealier Matlab versions?

@Jan, they are new for 12b and not backward compatible :( to my knowledge.

Ryan G
on 1 Oct 2012

Often there are options to download the GUI instead of the app in the file exchange.

Answer by Image Analyst
on 15 Sep 2012

I can't figure out how to get my shortcuts transferred over. I did right click and tell it to display the shortcut ribbon, but my shortcuts from R2011b are not there. I tried the trick I gave in about copying over the shortcuts.xml file from C:\Users\ImageAnalyst\AppData\Roaming\MathWorks\MATLAB\R2012a to C:\Users\ImageAnalyst\AppData\Roaming\MathWorks\MATLAB\R2012b, but it didn't work this time. I have 6 or 7 shortcuts and I'd rather not recreate them by copying and pasting. Any ideas?


Here's the way to do it for R2012b:

Evidently the new shortcuts XML file MUST be called shortcuts_2.xml, NOT shortcuts.xml like it used to be called..

  1. Type prefsdir on the command line, then in Windows Explorer (or similar for your other operating system), go to that folder.
  2. Copy your shortcuts.xml file from your old MATLAB version "prefsdir" folder to the new "prefsdir" folder.
  3. Rename the existing, new shortcuts_2.xml to shortcuts_2_original.xml.
  4. Rename your shortcuts.xml to shortcuts_2.xml.
  5. Restart MATLAB R2012b and all your old short cuts will be there.
Star Strider
on 16 Sep 2012

@Jan Simon: Thank you! I will!

I originally meant ‘Help’ — the Help browser that comes up with the ‘View product documentation (F1)’ — but I just discovered that in 2012b, ‘doc’ brings up the Help browser as well. (I rarely use ‘doc’, preferring the 2012a and previous versions Search option in the Help browser.)

@Image Analyst: Thank you for updating that discovery.

Jan Simon
on 18 Sep 2012

@Star Strider: I use "help" for the text, which appears after "help plot", and "doc" accordingly.

Answer by Yuri K
on 25 Sep 2012
Edited by Yuri K
on 25 Sep 2012

It took me a while to figure out how to do "Paste to Workspace" in the new version. No menu, no good help about it.

I could do it with


and finally found that Ctrl-V is just focus dependent.

Another twist was when I tried to paste a column of strings with IDs, like 'ID6', 'ID15', 'ID23' etc. (copied to clipboard from an Excel file), to get a cell array. To my surprise I got the output as a cell array of doubles with ID prefix cut away. There is no option to eliminate such behavior. A good example of over-smart system, isn't it?

I know I can code to read the file with xlsread to control it better. But sometime you need a quick and dirty way just to get data in. Worked perfectly fine in older versions. (Well, I've updated from 2011a.)

I'll be happy to learn if I miss something obvious.


Answer by Todd Welti
on 8 Oct 2012
Edited by Todd Welti
on 9 Oct 2012

I have been using the Office ribbons for several years. I remember hearing when they came out that "It sucks at first, but you'll get used to it, and learn to like it". Five years later and I still hate it. i won't repeat all the points made in previous posts here but I have a question. Do software engineers ever do an analysis of how many clicks are required to complete a given action (with and wothout ribbon)? It just seems to me that with the Office ribbon, I'm generally finding myself making one or two more clicks (and more mouse movement around the screen) for each task than I did before. That might not sound like much but it is a real annoyance when you are trying to go fast. I personally dont like the idea of being a software tester for Mathworks to "see if it is better". I'll be sticking with the old version or possibly switching to a Matlab clone rather than use the ribbon

Quite honestly folks, I feel a bit insulted that Mathworks thinks I need a pretty icon to help me find a menu command. I can read, plus I know where they are (were). It just adds visual distraction, which there is enough already.

I would love to see Mathworks listen to their customer base, and ASK them if they want an Office ribbon. How about a poll, guys???


Jan Simon
on 9 Oct 2012

@Todd: We have to take into account, that Matlab is not Microsoft Office. While I agree, that the MS-ribbons still steal my time, it is important to test, how TMW has implemented this GUI method. Did you test R2012b personally?

As far as I understood, TMW did ask a certain number of test users and the decision for ribbons is based on exhaustive tests and comparisons.

I would like to "hear" (read) a statement directly from TMW that verifies that. Exhaustive tests on employees of TMW do not count :D

Answer by Clay Fulcher
on 7 Dec 2012

I am going to return to R2012a. I have told people for years that Matlab is the best software invented by man, and that the Help system in Matlab was one of the best features of the code. I have to eat my words, because the new system stinks. Sorry, but that's the way I see it.


My team reported a couple of difficulties too and it seems they are addressed with R2013a. Check out the now availabe PreRelease!

Ryan G
on 7 Dec 2012

You have to remember the brand new system will be enhanced over time. Look back at the help system from releases long ago. I was stuck on 7a for a long time and the difference between that system and later releases was dramatic.

I agree with Andreas, check out the new release, make comments and enhancement requests and expect improvements in future releases.

Answer by Matt Tearle
on 13 Sep 2012

I've had quite a while to play with it. There was a little reorientation time, but I really like it now. I admit that I have a nice big screen at work, so the real estate issue Oleg mentioned isn't a problem for me.

I like the default location -- at the top -- of the filenames in the Editor (when you have multiple files open). I don't like the default location of the Quick Access Toolbar; I moved it to "Below Toolstrip", and that makes me happier.

There are still a few actions that I'm getting used to. Saving a file, for some reason, still messes with me! I guess I just got so used to the save button at the top of the Editor.

OK, I'll say it: I like Apps. Having a way to share GUIs with a single file and run with a single click is nice. Even nicer is that you don't have to monkey with paths or changing directory.

But the biggest plus for me is the new Import Tool. I may forget how to use textscan. And I won't be sad. I'll use those neurons for something more fun, like memorizing the entire Peruvian tax code.


Is it possible to add vertical separators in the Quick Access Toolbar?

Not at this time, but we're aware of it and I'll add your vote to it.

Answer by Eric
on 13 Sep 2012

I've done my share of complaining, so here are a few things I do like:

1. The new "Go to" dialog is great. I used to use the "Show functions" button with class definition files. I never noticed before that with a script file you could hit Ctrl+G and get a list of cell titles. Of course somebody who knows to hit Ctrl+G to bring up the list of cell titles will now be disappointed that the new Ctrl+G dialog box only brings up an option for line numbers. I'm not sure why that dialog box needed to change. TMW giveth and TMW taketh away, I guess.

2. I can see using Apps if it works well. I've got a couple exceptionally-large, general purpose GUIs that I distribute. Currently I compile them for distribution. Creating Apps seems like a good distribution method as well. I'll have to test this out and make sure I can also distribute the ancillary files easily and without changing my code. I'm concerned that the directory structure I assume for compiled files will not be maintained with Apps.

3. I generally don't use the canned GUIs from the toolboxes, but perhaps I'm more likely to now after seeing them all in one place in the Apps toolstrip.

4. I generally don't use the Publish tool, either. I have my own class definition files for generating reports in Word and PowerPoint. However, I'm perhaps more inclined to use the Publish functionality with the ribbon. Since I didn't use Publish much, I wasn't aware of the markup options.



(2) It should be. You can check this by creating an App and then navigating to it in: '< userpath>/Apps'

(3:4) Excellent! This was one of the big motivations for the redesign!

on 13 Sep 2012

I tested converting one of my large GUIs to an App. It was quite easy and I can definitely see this as a method of distributing tools (access to Matlab is not a significant constraint where I work). I was actually surprised by how quickly this process went - I thought it might take forever looking for dependencies. It found 72 files with no trouble at all.

In the spirit of being a whiny jerk, though, I do have two disappointments:

1. The App development tool creates PRJ files that are apparently different than what the Matlab Compiler creates. I was not able to use my deploytool PRJ file to create an app. It would be very slick if the app-creation tool could utilize a Matlab Compiler PRJ file. I can envision utilizing both methods for deploying tools.

2. I didn't see any option for creating my own icon for the App. You can supply a screenshot, but not an icon that is displayed in the toolstrip. I looked in the documentation as well. It seems all user-created apps are forced to have the same, nondescript icon. Hopefully I'm missing something. Icons really aren't useful if they're all identical.

I can see the Apps feature becoming quite popular. I expect Matlab's capabilities for handling them to grow. Off the top of my head I could see that a need to create custom groups of Apps might one day be necessary. Right now it seems all non-TMW apps are clustered into "My Apps". That's fine if you only have a few apps, but if you've got dozens that's problematic (especially if they all have the same icon).


Matt Tearle
on 13 Sep 2012

I know the issues with icons and grouping have already been reported, and are being worked on. I can even name at least one of the people who reported them... :)

Answer by Sean de Wolski
on 14 Sep 2012

My favorite two new features that I really love



Now accepts multiple arguments. I can't say how many times I've typed:

doc something somethingelse

And gotten the: Error using doc Too many input arguments.

Only to have to go back and fill in docsearch.


Typo corrections:

doic fmincon

Undefined function 'doic' for input arguments of type 'char'.

Did you mean:
>> doc fmincon

Why yes! I did! Thank you. It did take some getting used to though as my instinct is to press the up arrow ruining all of typo correction's hard work.


Jan Simon
on 14 Sep 2012

Does doc something somethingelse look for all pages which contain both terms, or one of the terms or the sequence 'something somethingelse'?

Actually you're right, it only seems to search for the last word:

doc pass extra
doc pass extra parameters

At least it pull up a help browser rather than erroring though...

Jan Simon
on 14 Sep 2012

I've written a small function, which allows to search programmatically in the help section, all comments or code for strings. Logical operations are possible like: look for "page" but not for "pages". The search can be applied to a file, list of files, list of folders, user-defined folders or all folders in the PATH.

The Search GUI of the editor has some similar feature, but doing it programmatically has some advantages. E.g. I can search in a large program for all fields of a certain struct - under the assumption that all concerned functions use the same name for the struct.

It would be nice to expand this tool to search in the docs, but the XML-encoding and the pure size of the docs will make this tedious and too slow to be usable.

I'll make this an enhancement request: docsearch with multiple terms, logical operators and finding similar words.

Answer by Malcolm Lidierth
on 15 Sep 2012
Edited by Malcolm Lidierth
on 15 Sep 2012

For those that want it, here's a quick way to add custom functions to the tool strip using a JToolbar. Improvements welcome (and probably needed)



then add buttons using

customToolbar.add(mylabel, callback)
customToolbar.add(mylabel, callback, tooltip)
customToolbar.add(pathtoMyIcon, callback)
customToolbar.add(pathtoMyIcon, callback, tooltip)


classdef customToolbar
      properties (Constant)
          function setup() 
              panel.add(customToolbar.toolbar, java.awt.BorderLayout.NORTH);      com.mathworks.mde.desk.MLDesktop.getInstance.getMainFrame().getToolstrip().addActionsPanel(customToolbar.toolbar);   
          function button=add(imageFile, callback, toolTip)
              if isempty(dir(imageFile))
              set(button, 'MouseClickedCallback', callback);
              if nargin==4


Malcolm: not sure what you're saying. There is a Shortcuts tab on the ribbon, and there is the ability to add new shortcuts, just like there was before. I just don't know how to get the all transferred over from the prior version since the method we used before doesn't work anymore.


Yep - I see now. I guess the menus were using the focus system. But the does not help.

I see a way to load a file in Preferences but that presumably replaces rather than adds them. I'd suggest a Q on the undocumented matlab site linked above - Yair has been blogging about the contents of prefdir recently.

I figured it out. Apparently it MUST be called shortcuts_2.xml. I deleted the shortcuts.xml file in the new R2012b "prefsdir" folder, then copied my shortcuts.xml file from my old MATLAB version "prefsdir" folder to the new "prefsdir" folder and renamed it shortcuts_2.xml. Then I restarted MATLAB R2012b and all my old short cuts were there. I'll go back and update my answer in the other thread to list this new process.

Answer by Jan Simon
on 18 Sep 2012
Edited by Jan Simon
on 19 Sep 2012

It seems like the ribbons do not satisfy the participants of this forum. I remember that the MS-Office users did not like them also in 2007. Some users in my institute still install software to simulate the old-style menu bar.

While all others discuss about another version 8 which uses tiles, Matlab users have to struggle with the old ribbons. Therefore I dream of a Matlab 2013b, which comes with tiles instead of the old fashioned command window. This would improve the usability on iPhones and Android tablets substantially.

Fortunately we have at least "Apps". We could open a Matlab store to sell our FEX submissions for some cent.

Hint: ;-)

[EDITED, minor typo]


Jan Simon
on 3 Oct 2012

Yes, Thomas. I meant Windows, the famous operating system, when I talked about "another version 8", see And while Matlab switches from menu to ribbons, Microsoft goes the next step already. And now I'm in fear that TMW will follow again, such that I have to touch on a tile to start the plot command. But I admit, that this fear is not very serious.

Never say never...

Jan Simon
on 4 Oct 2012

@Oleg: I did not use the n**** word.

We could use a transparent figure (Fex: WindowAPI) and some buttons to emulate tiles. Then we get a software and design patent for this in USA and set the license fees to 1 billion dollars, such that nobody can and will use this ever.

Answer by Honglei Chen
on 19 Sep 2012

The two features I like the most in the new interface

1. From Editor tab, Run and Time button.

2. The entire Publish tab, I no longer need to remember all the markups


Answer by Dan K
on 9 Oct 2012
Edited by Dan K
on 9 Oct 2012

I am going to suggest an informal poll to be conducted here. Ultimately TMW will make its decisions based upon how it impacts revenue. That being said, I'm going to suggest we start laying out the potential impact on revenue for TMW that R2012b represents. Here are my questions (with my answers):

How long have you been a Matlab user? 8 years

How many licenses of Matlab (and how many toolboxes) are you responsible for? 5 (4)

Are you a software maintenance subscriber? Yes

Does R2012b make you: A-certain to renew your maintenance; B- more likely to renew your maintenance; C- no impact at all; D- less likely to renew; E-Certain not to renew? My answer: D

Does R2012b change the likelihood that you will recommend Matlab to new users? A- more likely to recommend; B- No change; C- Less likely to recommend? My answer: C

If you can answer it: How much revenue would loss of your business represent for TMW? My answer: ~$2500/year

If as many people are upset as this discussion is indicating, we need to express it in the terms which are actually motivating to TMW: $ I look forward to and appreciate anybody who is willing to respond.

Thanks, Dan


6 years, yes SMS, no impact on renew, no impact on recommend, $US500-ish impact

I license Matlab, Image Processing, Signal Processing, Optimization, and PDE Toolboxes. I think the annual renewal fee is around $1000 / year, but IT handles it. I have been using the product on and off since summer of 1988 when a guy at Kodak (I was a summer intern and a grad student) said "hey look at this cool thing that lets you interface directly from the command line with routines like linpack and eispack" or something like that. Cleve Moler was in residence at the IMA at UMN when I was a NSF/3M postdoc there ~1991 (I was there 2 academic years 90-92), working (I think) on the sparse matrix routines for Matlab. I think my current corporate license goes back through the mid 90's.

I also find myself recommending (or not) the product line about once per year. I had a person in another group in our lab ask me about it about a week ago - one last time before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger. I told him that as a long time "power user" I am extremely unhappy with what TMW did with with 2012b and that he should take another look and consider buying into the corporate license pool for a competing product instead. He and other members of his group are potential new users. I told him that the new help system hurts ones ability to learn the program. However I also told him that for a newcomer, the ribbon system will probably not frustrate him like it has frustrated me. He was also looking at a setup similar to mine minus the PDE toolbox - so it is a sizable chunk of change.

on 20 Oct 2012

I have used MATLAB and SIMULINK for 21 years. I own (pay maintenance for,,,) commercial licenses and pay TMW USD 6,000 per year for maintenance.

I am an advocate for the product.

BUT... this is the FIRST time I am so very disgusted with 2012b, I am seriously considering not paying the maintenance fee.

The ribbon, despite its use by Microsoft, is a terrible direction.

I cannot read the documentation, my eyes are not good enough and the fint size cannot be increased, unlike 2012a.

The documentation is useless for me, I use the 2012a doc in any case.

Python, SciLab and many other products allow to increase font size simply by ctrl-click and scrolling the mouse roller. But Not MATLAB.

I am very frustrated and hope TMW will permit an option to use the former layout.

I communicated all my concerns to the development team during the pre-release and also following. But to no avail.


Answer by K E
on 10 Oct 2012
Edited by K E
on 11 Oct 2012

At first glance, the Simulink changes are nice, especially being able to comment out blocks (Matlab users - can you believe this was formerly not possible?) And I like the tabbed systems. For me, that is worth updating.


Answer by Thomas Hoffend
on 29 Nov 2012

Has there been any sort of response from TWM concerning revamping the ribbon interface and going back to something more usable, or are we stuck with this horrible thing until the next trendy "feature" in GUI / interface design supersedes it? I was contacted by a leader for the Matlab help system and agreed to test out any new features that came along. I am willing to help make the product better and/or fix that which is broken.

To answer some peoples' questions concerning GUI design and efficiency, there are definitely people who study and perform research regarding the human-computer interface (HCI). We have several here in our company and have had various focus groups and information gathering groups on the subject in our research labs, and in particular in my own lab. I have participated in these groups hence my familiarity with the subject. Mobile HCI is a hot topic and the annual ACM conference is one of the most exclusive technical conferences in existence in terms of fraction of submitted research papers that are rejected. The subject is fascinating to me as it blends technology with physiology and psychology.

I am not aware if there is any research at all regarding ribbon interfaces in the hands of expert or long-time users versus new users. The interface is all about grouping similar functions and simplifying the front end rather than enhancing efficiency and productivity. Unfortunately for TMW, they have made the mistake of adopting such an interface for a product that is supposed to enhance efficiency and productivity.

I think it might be misconstrued that I am anti-TMW or anti-Matlab which is definitely not true. I have been using Matlab with great success for over 2 decades now and would like to see it become better and not worse. My responses have been more due to the fact that I am very much into the product and feel disappointed and upset about the changes.


Answer by nanren888
on 7 Dec 2012

My votes:

*Ribbon: hid it. (ugly & used WAY TOO MUCH space, even with my widescreen in portrait) Added the buttons I want to the bar-thingy, runs into the GIANT TABS.

*Printing: broken - annoying (Web will not print, edit prints in stupid ways to other paper sizes)

*Printing - cut from editor, paste into MsWord keeps highlighting - Good as a plan B, thanks.

*^C still doesn't work reliably & does not always restore to a workable point.

*Keyboard ALT.... sequences missing - ANNOYING !!! - forced to use the ribbon

*APS? - plots? They are of no use to me. I am long in the tooth. Waste of space for me. Let me chop them out.

*Ribbon in command window = ribbon in editor???? I never dock anything. Editing & cell execution from the editor. Makes NO sense in my world to have each have the same menu, when so much space is wasted by HUGE ribbon icons & so little space is available for smaller useful icons.

*Java - java errors on the command window are still easy to come by.

*Path - migration of user path from previous versions - still missing

*Path - tools need improving. Failing to save to the default system pathdef is a messy way of getting each user to sort out a way round it.

*Path - add subfolder incompatible with default publish html directory being below the code source. I am really sick of removing html directories from the path.

*Home ... click on other things is workable - after hiding the ribbon, but a menu without the space wasted by Plots & APS would well, work even better.

*Newer documentation: I found it ok.

User: a long time (I remember matlab on DOS)

Licenses: 12 or so - 1/2 of one small group of about 20-odd licences maintenance: yes

R2012b: E more interested to look for alternatives

R2012b: B- No change - same discussion of merits & demerits + Plus comments about all recent changes appear to be making the barrier to entry lower - not so focused on serving the incumbent community

Maintenance on 12 - 20 licences


Answer by Eric Keller
on 8 Dec 2012

I think the new help browser shows potential, but the data that used to be there doesn't seem to be there. If it is, it's not organized the same, and it's not organized in a way that exposes the information. I have been reduced to downloading the pdf manual a couple of times. I thought those manuals were an anachronism, but not in 2012b. Have a couple open on my desktop right now


Answer by Maxwell
on 13 Dec 2012

The user interface, specifically the ribbon, is a huge step backwards for the Mathworks. I do not understand why you chose to make the user interface more complicated. The menu bar user interface paradigm that has been part of every successful windowing system is useful because common tasks can be performed the same way across applications. With your ribbon system, it has become incredibly annoying to figure out how to perform very common tasks. For instance, how does one revert to the saved version of a file? Clicking on 'open' reveals no such option, and there is none under save either. I find myself clicking around through your multiple panes, struggling to find buttons that did not need to be moved. At the very least you ought to make it possible to disable the ribbon and I think that you ought to reconsider this terrible design decision.


Answer by Eric H.
on 14 Feb 2013
Edited by Eric H.
on 14 Feb 2013

While there are some things about the new Matlab 2012B interface that I do like, there are also some very odd and frustrating aspects to it.

From the main Matlab window I have found no way to open an existing GUI .fig file for editing without going to the "New" pulldown menu - which makes no sense.

The location of the "undo", "redo", and other commands in the upper right hand corner makes no sense to me.

There is no way to access the Breakpoints commands (clear all, etc) from the main Matlab window.


@Sean Yes you can add it manually (option 3) - but from what I can see you cannot add it the same as other items (either option 1 or 2).

I was highlighting that some items you cannot add using the handy right click method (was wondering why...)

@Robert: I don't see why not? Can you paste a screenshot, or ask a new question about it? I can right-click on any of the options and it's right there (i.e. 1,2).

Answer by Eric H.
on 15 Feb 2013
Edited by Eric H.
on 15 Feb 2013

My understanding is that the original post was asking for feedback about the new interface on the 2012B release. I noticed some problems with 2012B - at least I thought they were problems early on - but delayed posting on this thread till I had more experience with the new release. I wonder if I should have bothered.

1) I see what your saying about opening from the current folder. I don't ever work with the current folder window open so I couldn't see what you were talking about. Thanks for the pictures. In my layout the only way to edit a preexisting GUI *.fig file was from the "new" pull down.

2) I now see what you are saying about adding a GUIDE tool to QAT but IMHO you've removed key functionality from the default layout.

3) I just pulled up 2012A on another machine. In the main Matlab window there is a "debug" pull down that lets you have access to the breakpoint commands. You don't need to go to the editor window to access these commands.

Now I just noticed that if I add breakpoints to QAT from the editor window it automatically shows up in the QAT of the main window also. All of this requires a great deal of fiddling - all of which is very counterintuitive. Previously I noticed that if I move the QAT in the main window it does NOT move it in the editor window


Answer by Jacob Shea
on 13 Mar 2013

I'm late to the kvetching party, as I've only just installed 2013a last night. But I am compelled to echo many of the criticisms made in this thread (particularly the comments of Thomas Hoffend).

The ribbon UI style in general takes a lot of criticism, but ultimately I don't really care whether things are in drop-down menus or icon toolstrips. Unfamiliarity is fleeting; I can adapt. And in many cases (save, open, etc), sure, I'd rather click an icon than click through drop-down menus. But here is what I do care about in a MATLAB UI:

(1) Efficiency of screen real estate

I dock everything into one window (command history, current folder, command line, editor, figure -- all in separate tiles). That is by far the most effective layout for me. So space is at a premium, even on a large monitor. It is utterly unacceptable for the toolstrip to take up 1/10 of the screen. I see suggestions from MathWorks folks that it can be hidden, but hiding the toolstrip merely doubles my clicks and mouse strokes. That sounds like nitpicking unless, like me, you spend entire days/weeks/months clicking and mousing in MATLAB.

At minimum there should be an option for small tool icons, spread horizontally; I don't need the Open icon to take up 3 times more space than the Print icon. I don't need a group label telling me that New/Open/Save are "File" commands. A disk icon means "Save" in every piece of software, I don't need it to be labeled, use hover-text if you must. The toolstrip should be customizable. I have never once, in 15 years of heavy use, used New>Variable; I certainly don't need a dedicated icon for it now. You've basically locked the toolstrip into 'novice mode'. How could you not foresee experienced users being irritated by that?

(2) Efficiency of navigation

During my typical usage of MATLAB, I am alternately coding and using the debug tools in the Editor tile or generating plots and using the figure tools in the Figure tile. In doing so, there are prolonged repetitions of mouse movements between the tile and its accompanying toolbar. Relocating all toolbars away from their respective tiles results in a significant and incredibly frustrating delay. Similarly, a customizable toolbar (Quick Access) is a fine idea -- unless it's permanently anchored to the upper right corner. At minimum, the toolstrips should be dockable to their associated tiles. Each being customizable would be gravy.

Window controls (max,min,dock) are now relegated to drop down arrow icons. The tiny individual icons of the prior design took up the same real estate that the new drop down icon now inhabits. Clicks and mouse strokes to use these controls have simply been doubled.

(3) Consistency

For many many releases now, everything in the UI has been dockable and tileable and resizable however the user wishes. This continues to be a great strength of the MATLAB UI. Your implementation of the new ribbon toolstrip is completely inconsistent with that approach. It cannot be moved, it cannot be resized, it cannot be docked to the appropriate tile. The only flexibility of the new toolstrip design is the Quick Access toolstrip, which itself cannot be moved, resized, or docked.

Similarly, the benefit of an icon toolstrip -- identifiability and accessibility in a single click -- is not reflected in other UI changes. The individual sub-window controls (formerly very reminiscent of an icon toolstrip) have been relegated to drop-down menus beneath a nondescript down triangle. So, you got rid of drop-down menus in favor of icon toolstrips in one place, but replaced an existing icon toolstrip with a new drop-down menu in another place. What?


I will be reverting to 2012a, which is vastly more effective for the way I use MATLAB. Ironically, I was auto-emailed a "MathWorks Software Maintenance Service Renewal Quote" shortly after installing 2013a. Seeing that I will be rolling back to 2012a, it makes my maintenance renewal decision an easy (and cheap) one.


Answer by Laurens
on 2 Jun 2013

Please add me as another datapoint for the dissatisfaction with the move to the "Ribbon UI". I have previously studied UI during my computer science degree.

Having been an MS Office user for a few years, I still find Ribbon interfaces neither intuitive nor productive. Research has shown that often only complete beginners get much benefit from the ribbon interface.

Not Intuitive: icons are rarely good indications of actions. What should "create a new variable" look like as an icon? Even the new file icon is a large '+', which to me suggests "Add", rather than new. Words in menus are pretty good at describing the action

Not Productive: The Ribbon takes up a lot of space with its aforementioned deficient icons. Being able to minimize the ribbon with a control at top right, then have to re-open the ribbon and move all the way to the top left to access most of the commands is inefficient as well, compared to the pull-down menu of old.


You can also minimize it by double clicking the tabs.

Jan Simon
on 4 Jun 2013

@Sean: And to be complete, TMW can also give us back the compact and useful interface. Here "can" should mean "could" and "has the power to".

on 18 Jul 2013

@Sean - reiterating what Jan said, yes it's possible. I can also plot things in Excel. The point is that for many users I suspect that the ribbon is a huge step backwards.

Even for the editor we get weird icons that try to illustrate "Smart Indent" compared to the old menu that just said "Smart Indent" - I can read faster than I can decode the 2013a UI artist's interpretation of a "Smart Indent".

Everyone I speak to that uses Matlab on a frequent basis at university (I only use it occasionally) has refused to upgrade due to the nonsensical UI change.

Answer by Wesley Ooms
on 10 Jul 2013
Edited by John Kelly
on 12 Feb 2015

It sucks. I'm frustrated. I hate the ribbon. I cannot find anything in the documentation. The simulink scope y axis is unreadable i cannot see if it is 3 or 8, leave alone plus or minus. i cannot acces any system call. we are treated like babies that may not acces any hardware. any file i wrote is ten times slower than it was while the computer is faster. is that because the dumb?' if i write down all frustrations i collect during one week of working i would be able to write a book that no one reads because either you are not interested or you allready knew this situation. Software sucks in general.


Answer by bethel o
on 10 Jul 2013

Users of Matlab are mostly programmers who don't give a damn about GUI, they just want to bash in codes as fast as possible.

So TMW should get their priority right, don't copy MS as they have slightly different audience, time spent on building glossy gui and ribbons would be useful in implementing cool features! e.g more matlab function in matlab function block of simulink.

I personally have a fear of ribbons and therefore stuck with 12a


Jan Simon
on 10 Jul 2013

@bethel o: I assume that TMW has a better survey about the nature of the needs of the users. But there is the possibility that their survey was biased by any strange effect, perhaps they used the list of Win8 beta testers for the corresponding poll.

I personally suffer for so many years from the limited power of Matlab's GUIs, but this concerns uitable, uitree, uitab and the very restricted access to the events, but I never had any problems with the old programming IDE and I do not like to be forced to change this with the ribbons.

@Jan Simon

OK, the survey has to be biased then. It is probably filled by Labview and Excel users.

Improvements in visualization tools like uitable etc are certainly good but spending too much time on the IDE to look like MS-word is certainly not.

What's next, buttons that run matlab functions to replace command window? LOL, I am well happy with 12a as it solves all my problems in LIFE using functional GUI that entourages coding! yeah!

Answer by per isakson
on 26 Jul 2013
Edited by per isakson
on 26 Jul 2013

I'm hit by the ribbon, i.e. Matlab Toolstrip. I updated the other week because of a fixed bug. (R2012a was uninstalled.) Now, I need help to add code to the green triangle, RUN.

  • How do I find the documentation on the main Matlab Toolstrip? Is there any? I've only found some fragments, e.g shortcuts, ... . Nothing on the green triangle.
  • RUN (green triangle) used to have an edit-box (right-click-edit-something) where I could write some code, sample indata and comments. Does that edit-box still exist? If so, how do I find it? The [Run: type code to run] doesn't count!

  1 Comment

  • Documentation is available through the "Help Button" on the Home tab. I personally just recommend using the edit field in the upper right corner.
  • The Run Configurations button is the down arrow on the green play button in th editor tab:

Answer by Antonio Napoli
on 21 Aug 2013

The toolstrip is very ugly and unuseful.


Answer by Jerry
on 10 Oct 2013

Is there any way to get rid of the ribbon and go back to the menu bar in R2013a/b?


Answer by Bryan
on 13 Feb 2014

Two things I have been waiting years for for:

(1) Ability to "Find and replace" within a selection of text (note, not the entire .m file, just within the selected lines). I am copying pasting to Word to do this. Every serious editor (e.g. Notepad ++) has this function.

(2) Ability to set the interval of the minor ticks on a plot.

Ribbons are of no use to me, they just take up screen space. I don't hate them, but I have no use for them and would like the ability to disable them and choose menus instead. Until then, I will be using 2012a.


Answer by Neil
on 19 Sep 2012

Experiences so far

  • Does 2012b have cell mode execution buttons?
  • I for the life of me can't figure out how to "save-as", am I missing something or did TMW not include this
  • New help is not as user-friendly as previous version


You can add 'Run' or 'Run and Advance' to your one and only toolbar at the top of the interface. However the convenient core cell command buttons that were at the top of the editor pane are gone.

So much headache could have been avoided by waiting a release generation, not doing a toolstrip, and adding the ability to edit, move, tile, etc. toolbars in the various window panes instead.

on 11 Oct 2012

I prefer keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Run ---> Ctrl+Enter or F5
  2. Run & Advance ---> Ctrl+Shift+Enter
  3. Advance ---> Ctrl+Down
on 6 Feb 2013

It may be nicer to give 'section' navigation its own navigation button rather than making it not so obvious that it is a part of the 'Go To' navigation which can only show either functions or sections but not both simultaneously. Maybe give the 'Go To' an option to show both with different font or font color for functions versus sections. A nice little micro icon may be nice to discern the two, an Fx symbol for functions and a booklet or LEGO piece like icon for sections.

Answer by Ryan G
on 26 Sep 2012

I primarily use MATLAB as a gateway to Simulink so I may not have the dedication to workflows heavy MATLAB only users may have. As such, I personally like the toolstrip because it helps me find functions and capabilities I'm not to familiar with like certain controls guis, classes and the profiler (run and time in the Editor tab).

From this perspective I find the toolstrip better than the previous UI. In fact, after reading through these discussions, I realized there is only 1 main tab for base MATLAB (Home) and 1 main tab for the editor (Editor). The others, apps/plots in MATLAB and Publish/View in the editor, are either new or were rarely used by me.


Answer by Andrew Janke
on 21 Mar 2014

Here's one more vote for getting rid of the ribbon/toolstrip and going back to regular menus done with standard system UI widgets, at least as an option. As a "power user", menus work better for me, and the toolstrip has issues with Retina/Hi-DPI displays.


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