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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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  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The whole Metro interface is ugly as ****. Keep it where it is supposed to be - in the metro crapplications that tablets and phones will use. Visual Studio is a desktop application, it won't even have a Metro version like IE. Keep the desktop look that VS2010 has. You can add the dark theme, that much I agree.

  • Robert commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is the right direction to go in. Look at the Adobe products. Content should be more important than chrome/ui in tools that create content. MS is doing the right thing here by realizing that designers AND developers both use Visual Studio and designers really care about what their tools look like. Providing an option is a good idea for those that do not care for the new interface, but the new interface should be the default.

  • Bruno commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Just keep VS2010 UI for those of us who can't stand living in a flat lifeless world of Windows 2.0

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I happen to like how the new monochromatic icons look, and I happen to want more real bugs to get fixed between now and RTM, so please don't spend time and money bringing colors back.

  • Glyn Press commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    One more vote for the dark-theme-is-nice-but don't throw-the-colour-away party. As thenonhacker points out, the Office 15 UI has gone metro but still uses colour well and has colour icons. Visual Studio, by the very nature of the work it is designed for, can be a daunting and complex UI especially for new developers. Colour (in moderation) is a great navigation and grouping aid. I like old black and white films, but not black and white UI!

  • mrdev commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I like having a dark theme, but toolbar icons should have color.

    Also, where are the icons on the docked window tabs like solution explorer. With multiple tabs, the text won't fit so see "..." following text which is silly. This is just the stupid Metro idea.

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