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Add some color to Visual Studio 2012

Usability studies have shown that both shape and color help to distinguis visual elements in a UI. The upcoming/current beta release of Visual Studio 2011 has removed color from the toolbars and from icons in e.g. the Solution Explorer.

Please make this optional so those of us that want a more accessible and user friendly IDE can have their cake and eat it too.

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Michiel shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

Updated Status: 7/2/2013

Thanks to everyone who voted and commented on this issue. Visual Studio 2013 has increased color and contrast use within the user interface while continuing to focus on giving the content you are creating and editing visual prominence. We’ve utilized the feedback you gave us to help refine our approach to color and contrast within three main areas: 1) we added color to icons and reduced line weights to improve icon scan-ability and to better communicate icon meaning and categorization; 2) we added line work and raised contrast levels to increase visual separation between screen regions; 3) we included a built-in “Blue” theme option at product first launch to better support user choice.

In keeping with these three areas we have made many changes to the Visual Studio 2013 built-in themes. In high utilization and icon intensive areas of the product, such as common toolbar actions and code hierarchy elements, we refined the color and/or line weight of over 1,000 commonly used icons resulting in color being applied to ~80% of standard and debug toolbar icons, ~75% of code hierarchy icons, and 100% of active notifications. In both the Light and Dark themes we increased contrast levels and introduced more border line work to better highlight the edges of content areas such as input fields, tool window borders, active selection states, etc. We also introduced the ability to choose the theme that best meets your preferences and work environment needs as a part of the product first launch experience.

Many of the changes we’ve made are subtle in nature but broad reaching in their application. As Visual Studio 2013 Preview has now shipped, we’re closing this item to give your votes back for you to use on emerging topics. We encourage you to try out the changes we’ve made and then share additional feedback you might have.

Visual Studio UX Team

Hi folks,

Take a look at the VS 2012 Color Theme Editor – it is an option for creating and editing your own Visual Studio themes.


Doug Turnure – Visual Studio PM


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  • ThomasX commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Why is this marked as completed? Are you trying to save face at the expense of your customers?

  • Hans Pfaff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I believe indeed Microsoft reacts very sloppy on the many complaints about the ugly colors and bad contrast in VS2012.
    I myself think that the VS2012 GUI is a nightmare. It is a danger for your eyes (extreme stress). It is slavery to work with it. You destroy your eyes working with it I myself have serious difficulties working with it. I could improve my situation considerably by loading and installing a registry file from the internet. This registry file introduces smoother color gradients in almost all controls and makes the working much better. (I am alos using dark editor background colors: good for the eyes).
    But I don't want to be forced to search for hours through the internet to find someone (if I am lucky) who had the same issues and invested hours to solve a problem that Microsoft even refuses to accept. Microsoft should listen to its customers who spend a lot of money on their products.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    'Completed'? Dear god why don't you cretins at Microsoft ever actually LISTEN to your users!!!

  • brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Doug VS PM
    Have been trying VS2013 - and it isn't much better, the icons are still difficult to see? Just don't get why you can't bring back the icons everyone is familiar and happy with - Is it that difficult to get it right?

    Bottom line looks like something an engineer with no design skills has but together for a quick test program to test code - I'm I right?

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I'd like to add that, while I still feel that are issues that need to be addressed (such as menu item capitalization), I'm encouraged by the VS team's apparent willingness to incorporate user feedback.


  • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    MS, please distinguish what is for end customers ("metro") and for skilled engineers (VS).

    Shaw's Principle: Build A System That Even A Fool Can Use, And Only A Fool Will Want To Use It.

  • Jorge Pedraza commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Dear Visual Studio Team.

    You must understand the situation. We are requesting the VS 2010 user interface or better for the next version of Visual Studio.

    Visual Studio should not be part of a strategy Microsoft (Style Metro and more).

  • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    >The suggestion was for VS2012 that we are using now, NOT for future versions
    Don't be ridiculous. When changes are made, it always become "future version".

  • Tudor Turcu commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The suggestion was for VS2012 that we are using now, NOT for future versions that we might use or not after a few years, so the request was NOT completed.. :(

  • factormystic commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    "Please add color to VS 2012." "We added color to VS 2013, item complete!" ...well no, not if VS 2012 doesn't also get this update.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Are the menus NO LONGER SCREAMING AT ME without requiring a registry hack? Is the washed out, dirty water grey now a real black? Sigh. I had such high hopes after 2010 came out. It appears that VS releases suffer from a similar predicament as Star Trek films: every Nth one is destined to be less than satisfactory.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Visual Studio 2013 - Better.

    I like the color scheme of the common action icons. The color usage is conservative but much more effective than the black and white.

    The border line work - better. I think it's important to have it there. I would include the color of the border lines in the color editor.

    Solution Explorer looks better. The icons at the top of the window need color. Maybe follow the common action coloring?

    I would still like to see support for Aero in the main window border. The dialog boxes all support it, why not the main window?


  • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Need an option to load user-defined icons. With such speed of "fixes", this seems the only way to restore normal icons in a reasonable timeframe.

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