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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

316 comments

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  • zokocx commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree with this, as a student I learn all icons what are , and in some near future I need to learn them again, no chance.
    And btw. , old one are much much better... this new one puts ridiculius eye strain !

  • Goda Attila commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This UI like to the good old Sinclair ZX-81 Basic. Very hard to read if your eye is not perfect.

  • Gabest . commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It's not about taste anymore. There are many people who literally cannot look at it for long without getting eye strain and headache.

  • Azat Sattarov commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    IMHO the current UI is awesome, it's just a matter of habit.
    I think Visual studio team should integrate some kind of theme manager/selector, more advanced than the current one so that users could choose the suitable theme for themselves.

  • feedback commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    please change the theme like visual studio 2010 ! Black and white it is very very confusing

  • Mark Bauer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    A step backwards.. please give us some color. Let us at least create our own themes.

  • Anders Gardebring commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Menu options in all caps, colors gone for the majority of icons, icons that completely break well established graphics that we have learned to know over many years, yeah, basicly this UI is horrendous!

  • chris commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I meant to say phones in general looked like garbage until the iPhone (and similar) came along.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    VS 2012 colorization looks like a middle schooler's attempt at UI design. everything runs together. It is sick. Can somebody make a plug-in or something to add color???

    I see MS developers going...you know monochrome should make a comeback. Let's take a design that works, throw it to the dogs and start with gray. And then all the developers at MS said, yes, good idea.

    Gag...the UI is disgusting.

  • Squirrel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It is unusable. It might (arguably) considered "pretty", but it's so unproductive it's untrue, everything blurs together in both light and dark themes!

  • george h commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This UI is horrible!!!!! i cant stand it! im going to boycott this f***ing release until they bring back a "classic" ui.

    someone needs to get fired over this design.

  • tfsmaster commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I especially am disconcerted about changing the commenting/uncommenting icons which I have been using in nearly every single IDE (not just Microsoft IDEs) I have ever used for years and years. The new icons for commenting/uncommenting just do not make sense to me. I cannot even figure out what they are supposed to be or mean based on their icons alone. The lack of color makes the icon pictures even more indistinguishable and more difficult to comprehend.

  • deejbee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't mind so much about the design of the icons changing. I like the new mono style but it's changes the layout of all my icons which is really annoying.

  • Ami Schreiber commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree about about retaining the icons from the previous version of the IDE, but disagree that each version of the icons have gotten worse with each new VS release. The older ones were fugly. Every icon set that followed got better and better -until now.

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