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Bring Back Full-Color Icons to Visual Studio 2012

The mostly black & gray glyphs used in Visual Studio 2012 are very difficult to distinguish between. Familiar icons that we have known and used for years are now gone, and it takes (wastes!) a ton of time trying to find the right icon/command/object. Please bring back the tried-and-true, full-color icons that clearly represent each command/object and are easily identifiable.

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Thanks to everyone who voted and commented on this issue. Visual Studio 2013 has added color in several broad reaching icon categories. We classified the icons we focused on into three sets: icons which represent common actions, icons which indicate code hierarchy, and icons that provide some kind of notification. By utilizing a systematic and broadly applicable approach to color use we are better able to effectively convey critical meaning or affiliation through color, to attract attention through color, and to improve scan-ability through color. This approach translates into color being applied to ~80% of standard toolbar and debug toolbar icons, ~75% of code hierarchy icons, and 100% of active notifications.

Based upon the design goals outlined above and design decisions reflected in the existing scheme for each of the core icon sets we will continue to apply and extend our approach to icon colorization as we move forward. 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


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  • Andrew Young commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Let's be honest—there has been a lot of hate and very little love for the icons in the Visual Studio user interface since version 2012. Now with the upcoming version of Visual Studio, it looks like those same lifeless glyphs are getting yet another fresh coat of solid-color paint. If the goal here is to please the opposition, I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the poor fellow who is spending thousands of hours re-pixelling the icons, but his efforts will be largely in vain. All 4,258 of us still standing here just want the Visual Studio 2010 icons back, whether they match the "modern" UI or not, and no amount of retouching the new glyphs is going to satisfy us. Ever. Sorry.

    But we also understand that Microsoft wants to provide a look in Visual Studio consistent with its vision for modern apps. And you can't justify the resources to maintain two completely different sets of icons. Fair enough. So let's compromise and make the icons configurable—including the icons used in the Solution Explorer, Object Browser, and IntelliSense—and then we can all stop name-calling, and you can get back to making the best IDE in the world better, and we can get back to making the best apps in the world better. Everyone wins.

  • brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    There is no doubt that those icons offered in the survey(if you choose the correct options) are a lot better than the flat monotone of previous. A pity they didn't bring back full 3d icons - but hey at least there will be some color to help in quick recognition of options.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Well as I have just completed the recent survey to extract my views about potentially upgrading the icons back to colour, I though I may as well update this blog from my previous entry; and it seems that I am not alone. The proposed colour updates are in my view childish and lack any decent graphics design or for that matter 3D imagination.

    I have resisted the challenge of developing ON a tablet or mobile phone where power and resources are low; and strangely if anyone was concerned about my desktop, then I can assure you that four quad core processors, 64MB of Ram and 2 solid state terabyte drives is quite capable of handling a VS IDE with full-colour 3D icons.

    It was a major design flaw in the first place, badly conceived and probably envisaged by some student out of college with a flare for Gothic architecture and Death Metal. Mind you I do like a bit of DM on occasions myself.

    I serious do not see what the problem is. Just bring back the full-colour 3D icons, and then may be my productivity will improve so that I am not rummaging around the VS IDE or distracted interpreting or trying to find the right icons to use.

    Can I suggest a new graphics design team engaged and listening to its Developer audience. Not so hard is it?

    Cheers people.

  • Melih commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    You are not able to create useful icons for 4 years. VS2010's icons are the best. Please revert all icons or give us to change all icons using theme support.

  • Daz Kuffs commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    whilst you may have added some colour to the toolbars, in Vs2015, the toolbox is pretty much unchanged and finding the correct control now requires reading the text of every one as the icons are no longer useful for identification.

    Because of your stance on this, other companies such as DevExpress are following you and making their own icons just as indistinguishable.

    Please can we have the option to get FULL colour icons back.

  • Rick Zakharov commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    How is this closed?!?! VS 2015 has the same awful icons.

    Please, Microsoft, it makes my eyes hurt trying to see the difference in tiny, same-colored, black on grey icons on my 27-inch monitor. I lose so much of my valuable time hunting for the right icon!!!

    Please, do hire a UX expert!

  • A very angry and disappointed Visual Studio user commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    WTF MSFT? really? do you have UX designers working or you just hired some kinder garten students to design? Especially the SQL Server Data Tools Integration Services UI is a load of *********. give us back the icon colors from Visaual Studio 2010 BIDS into this ****** VS 2013 SSDT.. this is bunch of bull.. just makes me incredibly counter-productive with this icon color scheme.

  • Dean commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree completely. I'm less productive with the overall washed-out and less contrast look of VS 2012 and newer, and the flat icons....than I was with VS 2010.

  • yevgeny commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    i just have aproblem with the disabled task colour, cant see the difference

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    My boss made us upgrade from SQL Server 2012 (Using VS 2010) to SQL Server 2014 a few days ago. After seeing the new Visual Studio interface, I immediately begged him to let us revert back to SQL Server 2012.

    Who in their right mind would EVER think removing colors and visual depth from the interface was a good idea? The white wash and all black icons not only make it very difficult to use, it has also given me a headache as its now just one visual blur.

    VS 2010 was perfect as is. Just because you want to make more money and sell newer versions, doesn't mean you need to devolve the interface. 2014 looks like a beta version from the early 2000's.

    Not everything has to been streamlined. If you want to want to streamline your interfaces, you should at least provide the ability to visually choose a "classic mode" where a user can elect to see the interface as if it were VS 2010.

  • Mark DeFrayne commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree with Mike. I've been coding PC's for over 30 years. This is the first time I have seen Microsoft go backwards with Development Interface. This is TERRIBLE! Your answer was very poor! The "just get used to attitude" is a good reason to start shorting Microsoft stock. The company has lost it's way.

  • Mike commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Really Luc??
    we could all work much better if MS was not messing with everything all the time. VS2008 looked great, all since look like **** and are hard to use.

  • Luc van Vugt commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Can we stop complaining and just get to work. I have been using this for 2 years now and yes, it was a change form VS 2010 to VS 2012, but like every change we humans tend to have problems, and yes, I have overcome them ages ago.

  • Sheraz commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    VS 2012 TFS is so non user friendly that it looks like I am not using source control at all with the new color scheme. That person is stupid who got this implemented and the manager or team who approved it is even more stupid.

  • Radu Sragar commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Mircosoft, you are so f@#%ing stupid!! Instead of spending time and resources on fixing the many [already-known] bugs in your products, you go and do something stupid like removing all colors from icons. How exactly does this make for a better product?!

    I think it is clear from the feedback left here as well as in other forums that the changes you've made to Visual Studio in regard to colors are broadly disliked. I think the reason most people dislike this change is the following: there was NOTHING wrong with the way things looked.

    In any trade, trades people organize their tools. Often using color to more easily identify the tools. You have robbed us of this facility for more apparent good reason. The LEAST you could do is give us the possibility to change the skin back to the classic design.


  • Sean D'Rose commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    visual studio 2013, still has a lack of color and classic icons, please bring them back.

    Office work is dreary enough without having to look at an even more droll IDE

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