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

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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  • brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Maciej Jakub Bańkowski

    I agree with you unfortunately Microsoft is a company that has stopped listening and now appears to be run by marketing people who have absolutely no idea what is right for their users or their business.

    What they have done to the Windows business is well open to a shareholder law suite against the senior management of Microsoft for total and utter incompetence. They had a chance to save the day when the initial reviews of the beta came in - yet they chose to ignore leaving the desk top users lost in a sea of sheer and utter touch mania.

    Same with VS 2013 - refused to listen, ok they tweaked a little but that's all.
    Arrogance is now what Microsoft excels in rather than brilliant products. Just hope their new head is more competent than the last - which does beg the question did he jump or was he pushed....

  • Maciej Jakub Bańkowski commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I cling on to VS 2010 and Windows 7 precisely because of the look & feel of the UI.

    I recently installed, was forced to do it really, VS 2013 on Windows 8.1 - I could not find many of the things I use in development, like 'Do I have Management Studio installed? Where is it? How do I search the filesystem? How do I start the SQL Server service? WHY IS VS MENU ALL IN CAPS?

    Thankfully the project was cancelled and I could get back to VS2010+Win7. I really miss and want the new & cool features of .NET 4.5 and VS2013 but I want to be productive more.

    Fix the UI and usability, please.

  • Mike commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    i love VS2008 since then its gone to ****, i keep holding on to 2008 thinking they will see the error of their ways but each new version is worse and worse.
    2008 was the first useful version of .net before that it was not worth upgrading from vs6

  • martin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    As VS ide is now WPF how about allowing the user to override the styles? Then we can do what we want with it. Mine would be a green screen with fixed width fonts and a main window frame that looks like an IBM dumb terminal. Then we can all spend half our lives criticising each others ide styles. Success.

    Or I could just learn/setup the keyboard shortcuts for the features I use and then get on with writing some code and ignore what the icons looks like.

    Which one would lead to a more productive programmer?

  • Me commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The best part of Visual Studio is that ever-so-lovely "Uninstall.EXE" app that comes with the package.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Alex Edelstein - Thanks to you and your 1991 team members for the good work.

    @Microsoft - Why do you even keep this issue open? It's like an anxiety closet where everyone vents off their frustration until they're fighting with one another... or is that the goal?

    Build 2014 has been a huge disappointment. A mickey mouse Start Menu proposal with Metro Tiles, no Aero and no changes to the flat, dull and lifeless color schemes. Actually someone was singing the praises of the great Ribbon interface... whatever.

    And now we get Metro applications that run in... Windows !?!? with icons to close the Windows...

    Vote with your pocket books folks because this - is going nowhere.

  • Alex Edelstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I'm baffled at the general trend towards flat graphics. The amount of information loss is enormous. I remember designing icons as part of the original Microsoft Exchange team in 1991, and we sought for realism and clarity, not dumb pseudo modernism. That attitude would serve Microsoft well today.

  • Martian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Please get back old good color icons, now it is practically unusefull. Why do you ignore all voices? Is it still not enough?

  • [Deleted User] commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I've been using VS2013 for more than a month and I still find it a really bad experience!! I desperately want to get away from this.

    Is there was an alternative to Visual Studio for C#?? I don't want to re-skill just because the IDE is dreadful.


  • Keith Hill commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I love the UI as it stands in VS 2013 and especially when compared to VS 2010. If the all caps menu bothers you that much, disable it with this registry setting:

    DWORD: SuppressUppercaseConversion
    Value: 1

  • John Hennesey commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    All the haters aside, the UI for vs 2013 is really hard to get used to. So is windows 8.1. And the upper case... I'm sure it all looks good on a tablet, but who programs on a tablet? Common sense needs to take over, please. :)

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't know why Microsoft don't listen to us, we are the ones who are using the system 16 hour everyday. This metro is **** for developers. I installed windows 7 and visual studio 2010 back

  • Christophe Keller commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The icons in VS 2012 are just too hard to understand and don't make sense, just give us the choice to use the efficient icon set of VS 2010.


  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Flat solid icons make more sense when you are looking at a small number of icons, for example, when you are trying to determine which image represents the women's or men's bathroom. It makes a lot less sense when you are scanning many icons and are trying to find one, a lack of color makes it all that much harder. I don't buy the argument that the color distracts the coder from what is important: the code. Rubish. When I am looking at the code I can't even see the tool bar and vice versa. Furtehr more, when you are dealing with a 16 x 16 bit space, gradient shades are extremely helpful in creating an image that is meaningful and recognizable. That's why the new icons don't just look bland and hard to locate, they also look like **** for the most part or at best inferior to the 2010 couterpart most of the time. Don;t just add more color. Icons need gradient shades too so they don't look like ****, else you'll get the 2013 interface.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Although I have found that I like the new user interface because it is a lot less distracting with fewer colors, the all-caps menu does get on my nerves; not because it looks bad, but because it is really distracting. I can't keep my eyes off of it because it just looks so out of place.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Everything you do with a computer generally begins with your eyes so I would say Yes, we are spending all of our time staring at the interface. I agree VS2013 is better looking than VS2012 but how does VS2012 rate when compared to VS2010? We all have an opinion and that's a good thing really.

    It's beginning to sound more and more like there's going to be some major changes to Windows based on consumer feedback towards Windows 8/8.1 It is my sincere wish MS gets it right in this next go-around. If there's going to be a desktop version optimized for mouse and keyboard then it's a good time to put the visual back into Visual Studio. Personally, I would like to see the desktop restored to something as visually good as Windows 7 and along with this, re-skin Visual Studio to be compatible with all of the visual features. In my opinion, we lost a lot of visual ground with Windows 8 and Metro.

    Lets move forward from this point. I think there's a good argument to be made to re-style if the rumors are true. And if I was Microsoft - I would share my plans going forward more freely. If your development community tells you it doesn't look too good - it probably doesn't look too good.

    One developer doesn't know everything but as a group we certainly have something to offer.

  • Florian S. commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I think VS 2013 solved a lot of it. IMHO, the IDE as of today looks much more modern and less cluttered than in the past (and I've used VS since the .NET versions). And I don't really get the big issue some people have with capitalized menu headers... I mean, hello? Are you working with the IDE or are you spending your time staring at the menu headers? I don't even notice what they look like exactly anymore because I just click and select the stuff because I know where to find it. And people who misinterpret a design decision to make them all upper case with "now they are screaming at me!" perhaps spent too much time in mind-dumbing chat rooms...

    No offense - if I'd to decide over it, I'd just put a checkbox in Settings "Use capitalized menu headers". That'd be it. Problem solved. ;)

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