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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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  • Carlos commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    An icon is a graphic representation of an action or a command. Constantly changing the icon/image really defeats the purpose. Just imagine what would happen the government in its infinite wisdom decided to change all the stop signs on the road to blue squares instead of red octagons? Or if they changed the stop lights from Red, Yellow, Green to Azure, Lavender, and Chartreuse? While no one is going to die because Microsoft changed it's visual studio icons...it is nonetheless annoying as ****. Do you really want to annoy your customers?

  • Another Ignored Customer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Even after 2 months of use, I still can't get used to this. When I opened up VS2010 I felt relief! I'm not going back to 2012 or 2013RC, I just can't.

    This is probably, by far, the most complained about issue. LISTEN TO US! We've voted on here just like you ask us to.

    Stop being so f'kin arrogant and accusing us, your loyal customers, of being wrong!

    Please compromise, leave these new pathetic icons with those on Win8 developing metro apps - and return the standard, recognizable icons to the remaining 98% of us!

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Another case of designed according to impeccable theory, bites a*se in practice.

  • Kevin Finck commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It's one thing to decide to simply be the ugliest UI on the planet. Well, nicely done on that. But to take it to the point where it actually has an impact on productivity is insane. It's ****** to read, ****** to see and find things (such as bookmarks), and more difficult to use (try turning Whole Word flag in Find on and off). It's riddled with items that used to work well, and now are confusing, or just a major pain. Why???! Mind blowing. Simply mind blowing.

  • brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Michele Like everything that doesn't have a mathematical proof there will always be different views (and even then!).

    Other developer's I know share the same view. Same applies to Windows 8, doesn't mean its bad, just a very strong indication that there is something very wrong with it.

  • Michele commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @brian I don't agree with this explanation: the save button is still resembling a floppy disk, it is only white and not blue. it's not like changing a commonly used stereotype as in your example. just a different style for the same symbol. "very badly designed" that's just very personal point of view. I like the new UI better than previous VS releases and I know many people who think the same. And I think it's not about "a company thinking that they knew better than the users" but more about a company who changes some old design from time to time and users who don't really like to adapt to changes. If it was like you said we should all be stuck with console applications and nothing visual, since it was a style commonly used and that most of people felt comfortable with. Anyways I think I have the right as a VS customer/user to disagree with this proposal as it would represent a step back in my opinion. And everyone should stop saying "you don't get the point" just because I don't agree. I got your point, I thought about it, I respect it, and I don't agree. It's that simple

  • brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Michele - thinking you are missing the point, the previous icons were well designed and familiar, why change something that is not broken for something that has to be relearned and worse - very badly designed from a users perspective.

    Imagine the problem if road signs were changed at the whim of a designer (sic) to something people don't instantly recognise, that is what Microsoft has done.

    Lets face it the modern/Metro design design is more akin to 'New Coke'

    i.e. A miserable failure due to a company thinking that they knew better than the users.

  • Michele commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Totally disagree with this idea. New UI is clean and functional for me. And I like it very much. We don't need bright colors. We are writing code not painting, Flat icons are more similar and aligned to ModernUI used in current MS software, and any programmer who is not able to find a save button because it;s not colored or it does not have 3d effect he/she is the one who should go back to school or find a different job. Also uppercase... this is not a forum or a social network, its a **** development environment, so all considerations about "screaming" uppercase make no sense at all. In addition, you might want to consider that you are free to express an idea and propose a change, but offending people and act like you're the only genius who has to teach others how to do their work is totally childish and unprofessional. i really hope nobody at MS will take care of this proposal and focus on features by ignoring silly requests about colors and fonts in the UI.

  • Jeff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't like its look now, but saying "make it look good" is too subjective. I've always been a "Substance-over-Style" person, but in this case the Style causes interference with being able to use the Substance. When I can't even tell if this is the active window, it's a problem. This is especially bad with so many of us using multiple monitors.

    This is an enterprise application. No one is going to try to write anything serious from a tablet, so why are we subjected to a tablet-based interface??

    I should not be required to use a registry hack, a DLL hack, and several plugins and tweaks just to use this program, though the very fact that these are out there should SCREAM to Microsoft that they did something wrong.

  • James Stewart commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    To whoever decided on the B&W icons... why is the Windows 8 start screen so childishly multi-coloured? - should it not be monochrome for the exact same reasons as the VS 2012 icons are the 'trendy' black and white? Why do you watch a coloured TV screen? Why is colour everywhere good - except on VS icons? What do YOU think is the point of colour in a GUI? - do you think colour is useless? And anyway, who cares about here-today-gone-tomorrow UI trends in the design of a *tool* like Visual Studio? Does the colour and appearance of the _tools_ have to match some ephemeral fashion elsewhere? And finally, what exactly was so bad and wrong about the coloured icons in all previous versions of VS? Who complained about them?

  • James Stewart commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    To whoever decided on the B&W icons... why is the Windows 8 start screen so childishly multi-coloured? - should it not be monochrome for the exact same reasons as the VS 2012 icons are the 'trendy' black and white? Why do you watch a coloured TV screen? Why is colour everywhere good - except on VS icons? And anyway, who cares about here-today-gone-tomorrow UI trends in the design of a *tool* like Visual Studio? Does the colour and appearance of the _tools_ have to match some ephemeral fashion elsewhere? And finally, what exactly was so bad and wrong about the coloured icons in all previous versions of VS? Who complained about them? Who, given a choice, prefers the new ones?

  • GUI commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Andy, what does iOS / Windows Phone have to do with Visual Studio, which is a desktop program? ...

    The point here is that the Metro look makes no sense being forced into a developer tool with utter disregard for usability and integration with the OS look.

    "not objectively bad"? This is not a matter of taste - there are all kinds of usability studies showing the brain identifies colored 3D icons more easily than grey blobs; that mixed case is easier to parse than upper case by using the general shape of the word rather than having to read its individual letters. Besides, disrespecting the user's choice of OS look *is* objectively bad.

  • Andy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    So what does our brave truth-teller have to say now that Apple has revealed the new look of iOS 7, which gets rid of the traditional Apple color gradients and skeuomorphism in favor of a plain, very flat, and almost WP7-ish Metro look? Personally I find it hilarious to read Microsoft's old WP7 talking points being newly reborn in Apple UI guidelines and Apple fanboy parroting -- but it is certainly a strong validation of Microsoft's Metro push.

    The new look isn't necessarily something I would have chosen (everyone has an opinion), but it's not objectively bad, just different.

  • Alex D commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I like the new VS 2012 interface. Icon have style and I'm indifferent to upper case menus. Is there something wrong with me?..

  • R Joshi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Yes, i also do believe that typographic interfaces are well suited for touch based app, where more importance should be given to 'CONTENT' rather than 'CHROME'. thus, WP easily wins overs iOS.

    However, when it comes to non touch enterprise LOB app, we need / generally have many cockpit like toolbar, button etc, thus importance is, how quickly & easily we can operate, Thus, here importance is not only on 'CONTENT' but also on the 'CHROME' too, thus here OS X wins over Windows Desktop mode. where in Xcode 5 we have many visual or photo-realistic icons & at times wherever required, skeuomorphic interfaces.

    Thus, please give importance for 'CHROME' also, for non touch ENTERPRISE ONLY apps like Visual Studio, Office, Expression Studio etc.

  • Richard commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    UNBELIEVABLE, what in hells name are they doing, its like taking a carpenters hammer and making it like a toy. This tool is our income, stop messing with something that aint broke. After trying to use this cr*p UI I too have gone back to 2010. I simply cannot find my way around this interface what I joke. I have been using VS for nearly 18 yrs now and this takes the cake. Surely someone gets sacked for this?

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    For the love of good, let us decide if we ant to use a dull, horrible, bland UI or use a UI that makes using Visual Studio a pleasure to use.

  • Marc commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree, the new flat minimalistic GUIs throw usability principles out of the window. The human eye picks up on color, contrast and real-world shapes and textures. The VS 2008 GUI was perfect.

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