Do not eliminate the CLASSIC view of MSDN
Microsoft is apparently about to eliminate the classic view of MSDN in favor of the poor low-contrast, pale, washed out 'lightweight' view. When you visit MSDN now you will see the following if you are viewing the CLASSIC view:
"This view of the MSDN and TechNet Libraries will be replaced soon with the Lightweight view. Try it now by clicking the Lightweight link above."
This is more of the same from Microsoft in reducing the developer experience to a shred of what it once was, and makes using MSDN as unpleasant as the grey theme of VS2012.
The new MSDN style brings the readable layout back.
Michal Novák commented
Maybe you will find this user script handy: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/167562 . It adjusts layout of the MSDN Library to be more like old Classic view.
One more item for the 'cascade effect'. Developers are like any other customer in that the ones at the bottom follow the ones at the top, and the ones at the top recommend the tools and environments that others use. When someone asks a peer for advice, and that person praises the tools they use and steers others in the same direction, what direction and what tools will those be? In photography, Canon users beget Canon users, and Nikon users beget Nikon users. Same thing in software, but if Canon ****** off their professional photographer customers in droves, Nikon would laugh all the way to the bank.
What do you suppose happens if Microsoft ****** off their developers in droves? Are they big enough to apply the 'busload' principle*?
*Busload Principle (usually with employees, but here explained with developers): Q: What happens if you have a busload of developers, and the bus goes over a cliff and they all die? A: Go get another bus load of developers.
I am bothered by the question of what we can actually /do/ about this? Microsoft (and Google, and Apple and...) just don't seem to care about listening to anyone (especially paying customers) except their Marketing departments.
As I think more and more about this, it seems to me that the only way to change this is 'too late'. The effects of the 'flat UI' stupidity and other marketing nonsense that seems to have rotted its way into engineering in many software shops won't be felt where C-level executives can notice (see: bottom line) until long after the damage is done. The gut wrenching irony is that it is this long term that is out of scope for the myopia that seems to dispose the decision makers to defer to the Marketing department in the first place, and let them dictate to the company.
The 'damage', in this case, will be lost revenue from former customers (developers) who move to the now-more-appealing-than-ever environments over time. In Microsoft's case, or any IDE/Compiler vendor for that matter, there is a cascade effect that is even more amplified by the tight coupling of development tools and operating system produced by the same vendor. The cascade effect I am referring to comes as developers move away from Microsoft products and, in so doing, mover /their/ customers away over time.
To Microsoft: There's only so much talking we'll do until we are convinced it does no good. That's phase 1 of your self destruct sequence. Phase 2 = Cascade Effect. Once phase 2 is fully commenced, the sequence is committed and immutable.
.."Microsoft? Hey! Uhh.. yes. Wake up, please. I was talking about <poke> yes.. err.. I was talking about your impending demise. You didn't get any of that, did you? No.. Ah.. Marketing says what? Oh. Tell them the same for us, please. Cheers, and pleasant dreams!"
Interestingly, the MSDN Magazine style has reverted back to the readable one that keeps the browser window width instead of older horrible one that displayed ridiculously thin column of text only. Can we get this back for MSDN online ?
Great, MSDN is finally hardly readable (scroll here, scroll there, less visible information). What else is Microsoft going to destroy ?
Wilfried Boos commented
I disagree. The new view is much more readable and much cleaner than the classic view. I actualy prefer the new view over the classic view
at least give us a choice?
This finally happened and they has eliminated the Classic Theme.
Sherry Barber commented
I agree. We don't need a different (not better) hammer. The hammer is the tool we use to do our jobs. We don't want to have to learn how to use a different tool, in addition to having to learn and keep up with rapidly changing technologies. Classic view is our hammer. Please return the classic view.
I completely agree:
I always use classic view - and I prefer to have the choice.
I don't mind waiting for the topic tree to load, because it's so useful.
Please don't remove the classic view!
Seems Microsoft has added a 'Related Resources' section to the lightweight view. I find this unhelpful and more a distraction than anything else. What do you think?
Gerald Heinig commented
Lightweight view was a disaster for me: it caused *hours* of frustrating searches for a previous page that I needed, but couldn't find, due to the impossibility of finding my place in the navigation tree. I was hugely relieved when I stumbled on classic view by accident (via Wikipedia).
MSDN was always a great way of discovering new information just by browsing around. Lightweight view eliminates that and thus removes 80% of the usefulness of MSDN.
Please, do *not* remove classic view!
Mohan Taneja commented
I absolutely agree with this. Classic view is really helpful while navigating from one topic to another and gives a bigger picture of where you are in the library.
Why does Microsoft want to remove this view? MS can keep the Lightweight as defult however we do want to have Classic available please.
Cindy Meister commented
You do have to ask yourself what kind of people actually USE Help at Microsoft in order to learn products and research new technologies. The quality and completeness of Help for the Office applications (both end-user and developer) has been steadily deteriorating over the past ten years. It now appears Help across the board is going to be reduced to bland mediocrity dictated by marketing and only of use to the casual user/developer. This is certain to result in increased traffic in the forums when people aren't able to locate the answers on their own any more. But will Microsoft hire enough knowledgeable and literate "contingent staff" to cover increased demand?
I'm baffled by the decision to remove the classic view--lightweight's navigation is inferior to classic's (you can only see the children of the current topic you're viewing, not the sibling topics at the same level, whereas you can see *everything* in classic). It drives me crazy that I have to go up a level (and do a full page refresh) if I want to explore topics at the same navigation level that I'm currently reading.
I suspect a manager in the MSDN team decided that lightweight is prettier and more modern, and decided to eliminate classic without ever having tried to use the product.
Yet another political decision done in the name of "improving the brand" and "consistency" at the expense of usability.
Several parts of MSDN have already been steadily getting destroyed by this design trend (eg forum list that has no delimitation whatsoever, a total mess). It's too bad this is going away as well; will have to rely on local doc & a viewer to get a proper treeview back.
I also agree that the Classic view is the most readable and ergonomic (variable-width) style. There is no need to remove it.
Microsoft seems to be **** bent in making their product unusable from Windows 8 through to VS2012 and now MSDN - despite the virtual universal dislike of the flat Metro looks they carry degrading their products - unbelievable!